Saturday, August 22, 2009

Decisions, Discipline, Drive (The 3-D's)

I used to love Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, they had all the best flavors when I was young. I’d stare at the choices, my breath clouding the glass protecting the treasured treats. I’d vacillate between the creamy chocolate with peanut butter chunks, or brilliant orange, red, and green sherbet, but I’d always settle on my favorite-chocolate chip mint. It was an easy decision.Of course, as I grew older the simple choices of which ice cream I’d like evolved into more complex ones, like what area should I study in (that took me some time to figure out), and whom should I marry? (it was one of the better decisions I’ve made)

This week I had another difficult decision to make. I was offered a position in another department. Great? It was bittersweet.If I took this new job, I would have to go full time. I currently work three days a week (but not just 8 hours, I can work 12 or more hours on those days). I would lose two days to write, but I’d have a more set schedule (8-5, no weekends, no holidays, and NO CALL!!! Woohoo!-sorry if you’ve ever been on call you know what I mean).

It was hard to make the decision, to lose those two days. I thought about it, I wrote lists detailing the pros and cons, I looked at other options, and consulted friends (I owe a few people some chocolate for listening to me and they know who they are). I agonized, because I wanted to be able to write full time.

I decided to take the job, because I am very unhappy in my current position, I need to pay bills, and honestly I get to learn something new. Plus, at the current rate I am plodding along on my writing road, I cannot afford to write full time…someday though.

With my decision to change jobs, I realized I would have to increase my discipline. This means I’d have to write EVERY day for an hour at least, at night, although my best time is in the morning with a cup of coffee. I could blow it off and write haphazardly on the weekends, but what would this accomplish? Nothing—and that is my greatest fear.

I have a drive to write, to be published, and make a living at telling stories. Everyone who reads this blog (or a large majority) has this inner drive. We wouldn’t be hanging out in RWA if we didn’t. If I don’t focus my drive, and use discipline—to sit down and write when I don’t want to, then all I have are empty dreams. I’ll end up at the end of my life saying “I could’ve” or “I should’ve” written. I don’t want that.

Nothing good ever comes easy. Yes, we all hear of the new writer who gets the six figure deal, or that awesome agent, and the outstanding editor (I heard of one who got ALL three). The reality is, for me at least, I am going to have to work for it. I am going to have to earn it. Even the most gifted writer and story teller has to pay their dues (I still wish there was a Writer’s Fairy Godmother that would help now and then—even if it’s to work out a plot point, smooth out the dialogue, or tame the grammatical gremlins).

I have made my difficult decision, now I have to discipline myself, using my drive to help me. I won’t be the fastest writer, but I’ll get it down, one word at a time.

So have you had to make a difficult decision recently, and how did it affect your writing? Do you have more drive then discipline? How are you going to increase your time to write?


Karen Beeching said...

For the first time in my life, I actually have a good balance going. I was a single mother mostly for the last 18 years, and writing always had to come second. I promised myself when I was 39 and my son graduated high school, that I would finally have my time. And I do.

I write one to two hours each night after work. I write 8 to 12 hours each day on the weekend. As I've said before, I have the best husband in the world who understands my promise to myself and need to do this. It helps that he likes my writing and believes this is just one hardship to something great.

Three years ago I had the luxury of writing part-time for 6 months. It was wonderful until I had to go back to fulltime. The good news is that my financial worries lessened, which helped my creativity expand. Overall, it was a good move.

Good for you. Leave a bad job for an unknown. It's exciting, if nothing else. And if it helps you become more disciplined, you are one step closer to handling those serious deadlines.

You will do great. :)

M.V.Freeman said...

I have to cheer for you!I am so glad that you are and can write in the evening and on the weekends. I know it is hard.

Btw, wasn't the workshop today OUTSTANDING! It will definitely help me.

Thanks for the encouragement, I need all that I can get! LOL, I am nervous about this move. :)

Karen Beeching said...

Any time you have a certain misery, the option of a possible good thing can only be great. I'm sure it's a good decision.

YES! The workshop today was wonderful!

Gwen Hernandez said...

That almost sounds like a suck or suckier decision. With just a little more work... =)

It was nice chatting with you today. Good luck with the discipline!

M.V.Freeman said...

Thank you Karen,
That is so succint!! LOL :) It is so very true.

And Gwen, it was delightful to talk with you, I don't know about you but my brain is overloaded.

I hope every one is fired up about writing! :)

Christine said...

Mary: good and positive energy in will equal better and more focused writing. I am so excited for you about this decision. I think ... I KNOW it will lead to better things. And I am super stoked that you are going to be a PRO soon!!


M.V.Freeman said...

You are the best Christine!!!

And Pro, here I come! :)

Cari Hislop said...

It sounds like the new job will be one of those weird blessings in disguises. The rythm of your life will smooth out into a predictable pattern and lower your stress level which will help you sleep better,recover faster, think more could be that by the time you get home from "work" you'll have more energy to "play" with your story. You could even have some sort of treat you reward yourself after you write for an hour every night though I suspect the writing will be the real reward. There's nothing like getting lost in the flow!!!

I don't know what other people do, but to help me feel productive I keep a daily record of how many words I write, I then add them up at the end of the month...and then year. It helps me to have concrete proof that I've actually done some work. I really like seeing a big number on my card at the end of the month so that's something that helps get me in the chair when I'm ill, tired or in the doldrums.

M.V.Freeman said...

What an excellent idea Cari, keeping a tally on the amount you write. I may have to try that.
Lately, I have been trying to set goals..sometime it works, sometimes not!

As for the job, I am hoping that will definitely help with my structure.

Houston A.W. Knight said...


I so hear you on this article...I too have had to make many hard decisions and some where overwhelming to make. Ones like - go to my sister wedding or go to a private writers (by special invitation only) retreat.

This is not an easy business and you (as well as your family) have to sacrifice a lot just so you can gain an inch's a business where you get very little control over your own fate.

Yes, you need focus, you need drive and discipline as well as motivation, but most of all you need guts!

Guts to keep going...and on those days when you think you just can't take one more rejection, one more rewrite, or one more runner up in a need that special writer friend who will help you pick yourself up, dust you off and tell you you've got 24 hours to cry over the spilled milk and then she'll kick your butt to start writing again.

Being a storyteller is not easy, but we can't help's in our blood and we can't run from that...I tired, it didn't work.

So now I know I have to keep writing, keep working until I've run out of stories to tell...being an Irish girl - I don't see that happening in this life time! LOL
So, I'm fated to keep pushing to be a published author.

This is a wonderful blog - I've got you on my follow list and if you don't mind I'll be linking you to my friends and bloggers list!

I'm so happy Christine sent you by to visit with me so I could find your blog!


Houston A.W. Knight said...


Just dropping back in to say...come by and pick up an award I left for you on my blog!