Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 13: Begin Where You Are; Begin Again

Originally uploaded by *helmen
As you may have noticed, this 100 Days of Discipline hasn't exactly turned out to be 100 CONSECUTIVE days of discipline.

What I've learned--and yes, this is a learning, strengthening, stretching process for me, too--is that the average muddling human being--can't adapt to a new habit every day. Even the average muddling human being in training to become her own master.

Some of these practices have been easy for me. Timed writing, for instance, is second nature, as is maintaining a notebook, and writing something--however short or insignificant--is as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth.

Going to bed early, on the other hand, is swimming upstream for me. It goes against both deeply ingrained habits, and natural proclivities. But there are three reasons I haven't given up:

1. I've learned that I'm more productive in the morning whereas the late night hours tend to be given over to various forms of relaxing, ie, PLAY TIME (which is probably why I love them so much! )

2. Though I fail a lot at the goal, I succeed sometimes, too--and that's the aim. In other words, progress not perfection.

3. When you swim upstream, you get stronger. In fact, there's no other way to do it.

So wherever you are, begin. And if you've begun before and find yourself stalled, begin again.

Enter the current, and swim for your life. The water is exhilarating! To review:

1. Set a bedtime and stick to it. (Mine is 10 p.m.)

2. Dress for work.

3. "Nulla dies sine linea." Write something, even if it's only one line, every day.

4. Be at your desk and writing within 30 minutes of arising.

5. Control the internet beast! (The hardest challenge of all for me.)

6. Look over your work and prepare your workspace (both internal and external) the night before.

7. Set a timer and write with abandon for one hour (or more.)

8. Deliberately write for 15 minutes (or MORE!) when conditions are less than perfect. "Guerilla writing," as Danielle Younge Ullman called it.)

9. Maintain a notebook.

10. Set productivity goals

11. Expand your ability to focus

12. Keep "One Point."

I'll add a critical fourteenth discipline tomorrow.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'd fallen off of the writing wagon. Thanks for the gentle boost back on board.

    I'm trying to apply the idea of Kaizen--ie gradual improvement--to all aspects of my life. Perfectionism is my biggest handicap, as a writer, and everywhere else too, come to think of it...

    (had to delete and repost this because I noticed an error--see what I mean?)

  3. Ah, Patry, the wisdom in " if you've begun before and find yourself stalled, begin again." Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is especially important for someone who is rewriting (yet again) a novel I've thought was finished many times before. But now I know to just "begin again."

  4. mercedes: Gently nudging myself as well. Glad to see you here again. Kaizen is something I need to work on, too.

    Judy:And thank YOU for making me feel less alone. It sounds like we're in a very similar place. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes!

  5. Still loving these posts whether they're every day or not! Like you, Patry, I've got some elements mastered, others not so much. Love the Kaizen--very helpful way of thinking for a writer.

    I am nearly, nearly done my new draft of my new book and this is helping me with that final push.

  6. Dear Patry, bless you! I will begin again. Starting next week, when the semester ends. I promise :)

    ~ sheryl monks

  7. Danielle: I'm so excited for you! Let me know when you cross the finish line so I can drink champagne in your honor.

    sheryl! So glad to see you here. We'll all begin again together on Monday!

  8. When you began this blog, my intention was to follow you through the 100 days, but like your writing of the blog isn't consecutive, turns out my reading of it isn't either.

    My "One Point" for today is "progress not perfection."

  9. Hi Patry! Nice new bog, I like it, it's great to see you blogging again! I just added you to my blog list at Upstate Girl!!


  10. Thank you for the advice. As an undergraduate student, I've learned how important it is to stay disciplined in my writing practices. I too find myself being the most productive in the mornings, and dramatically unproductive in the mid to late afternoon-- I avoid doing anything at these times to be honest. Something that also has helped me write and stay focused in general is a pot of green tea--decaf if possible. It helps set the mood for me. Also, when I feel stuck or annoyed by writing at home, changing the scenery always has helped me. The "guerrilla" style is something I've never tried; although, it does seem interesting. I typically find myself distracted when conversations are going. I can't help but listen even when I'm not trying to! But, I would be interested in how such an environment would change my writing. Thanks again for the advice!