Discipline and Shiny Things

Monday, 23 May 2011

It's no wonder my three year old is turning into a little monster. How am I supposed to discipline him when I can't even discipline myself? Oh, let me tell ya, I lack discipline in all areas of my life (don't even ask me about my laundry or bank accounts), but the one area that frustrates me the most is my lack of discipline in my writing.

I know I need to write everyday. I do, really. but for some reason I just can't bring myself to actually do it. I sit on the bed, thinking 'I really need to get that scene written', but there's always something else more pressing to do. Work, coursework, housework...

BA in English Literature & Creative Writing

What's worse is the fact that in my many moons of writing, I have only ever typed the words 'The End' on two full-length manuscripts.  One of those (a Harlequin Intrigue) I recently tore apart thanks to plot holes and am hoping to sew back together and the other (a sappy teen thriller/mean girls/cheerleader monstrosity) is happily lost forever in the dark corners of my mother's attic. I hope. God forbid that thing ever find the light of day.

In an effort to stay on a project (I mean, jeez, I'm only 9 scenes from completing the re-worked first draft of that Intrigue), I have been researching techniques and even devised a couple of strategies of my own.

First off, I am spending a hell of a lot more time on my plotting. The idea is to create a 'book' of plot info. I find I write best when the scene is mostly written out in notes, anyway, so I am trying to write a rough paragraph on each scene then return to it over and over again adding more detail or information until I have enough to write the scene.

Essentially, this means I don't get to really write until after the whole book is 'bare bones'. I hope it will mean that I don't get to the point where I have lost my original 'spark' was because it will be somewhere in the notes, along with a map on how to get there. Of course, I do need a bit of the 'lovely prose' to keep me motivated. Sometimes, just reading the polished first chapter can stir excitement in me. So I may have to go ahead and write that first chapter, just to have a feel for the story and to have something pretty to come back to and go 'Awww, I love that. Let me get to work.'

Writing Romance

But my favorite strategy, so far has to be the 'reward/reminder system' I have developed. I am a girly-girl. No one who knows me would ever tell you different. We're talking ponytails and cheerleading hair bows (I'm a coach, but I still love a big bow) and sparkly, shiny things! Can you think of a better excuse to buy jewellery?

I have very little good jewelry. I only wear my little cultured pearl stud earrings, engagement ring and wedding band. Between working in an operating department and coaching cheerleading, I can't really wear much more, but I planned to start. First I set off to find a vintage pearl ring which I thought would symbolize my aspiring to be a great Southern writer. I looked and looked, but I never found one that really stood out to me. Next, I looked at bracelets. I remember a couple of years ago when Pandora bracelets were all the rage and everyone was getting one for Christmas. At the time I had no desire to ever own one. I thought they were seriously over-priced silver. This time I looked at them in a different light. And I thought 'What if'...

Just before Christmas last year I bought myself a silver Pandora with the barrel clasp and I started on an obsession. The original idea was to add one charm for each story. I met with a lovely jeweller who was looking to get out of selling Pandora and offered me fabulous discounts which allowed me to get the bracelet, clips, and a few beads. I started out with a bead to symbolize my change in degree path, a bead for writing romance, and one for writing magical realism. Recently, when I started writing non-fiction to make money for our up-coming vacation, I bought a little silver plane. I even bought a bead to symbolize my settling on a pen name, starting to build a platform, and moving seriously toward publication. And a bead to symbolize my entering the Harlequin Valentine Secrets contest.

Harlequin Valentine Secrets Contest

Since then, I have gone a bit mad with beads. I keep finding them on eBay ridiculously cheap so I just keep buying them. I haven't bought any that don't symbolize a project, though, so I guess I'm okay on that end. Sort of. Rather than bore you silly with all of those pictures at once, I'll drag it out a bit. I plan to feature one bead at a time with a little post on what it means to me or what story it represents.

There is one major issue with the bracelet, though. I cannot decide when to add the beads. Now, I plan to wear them all while I'm on holiday. Just because. But seriously, I am torn. My original idea was to add them all now as a contant reminder of the storys that need attending to, but my best friend suggested I add them once the first draft was finished as a reward so I figured I'd give that a try. I only put on the beads I 'deserved'-- university, romance, and magical realism at first, then non-fiction, contest and publication beads joined the strand.

I hate to say that I haven't seen much motivation come from the desire to add more. Maybe it's because I know they are there. Snug and sound in their little boxes. I have them. Yesterday, I decided to add the 'stories' I am actively working on-- the American, the Intrigue, and the magical realism. Already I feel differently. I keep looking at the beads and feeling a rush of emotion. I feel guilty that the manuscripts are sat lonely and unfinished. I feel warm and fuzzy over the stories behind each bead. And I feel a spark of urgency to pick them up and get to work.

So much for me is 'out of sight, out of mind'. I swear I'd forget to feed the cats if they weren't in my face at six am demanding Whiskas. I even make lists constantly, seriously like OCD lists, with everything I need to accomplish for the day. If I don't write it down, I don't remember it and it won't get done. I think I may need to return to my original idea of adding the charms as a reminder to write. A little nudge to guide me to Della each day. In fact, I think I'll go add the last three. It isn't really a cop out like my best friend thinks, is it? I can take them off if it doesn't help.

How do you stay disciplined?

Writing Magical Realism


  1. I wish I knew! I'm normally the most lackadaisical housewife. But now that I'm becoming aware I haven't written and I have a work project that requires sitting down and thinking and just getting on with it. Suddenly the cupboards need rearranging and the garden must be weeded. And yet here I am, browsing blogs!
    I really like your idea of the charms - sounds like something really tangible to help you. Sometimes doing other things means your subconcious gets to work on your writing - or so I like to think!! Good luck... :-)

  2. I literally get out of bed when my husband leaves for work at 5.30am, switch on the computer and type. I don't plan, I don't schedule, I don't think I'm disciplined in any way, especially when it comes to things like housework. Writing goes into whatever space children and housework allows. Love that last bead! :)
    And now I present you with the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award here - http://keirbeyondredemption.blogspot.com/2011/05/ok-so-i-was-presented-with-this-award.html

  3. Hi Charlotte,

    I had to laugh at your comment. My house is never so clean as when I have an assignment due... or the mother-in-law is coming. :)

    So far, seeing the charms on my wrist has made me want to write, unfortunately there isn't enough time in the day right now for me to do anything for myself. I have an impossible amount of work to get done before we go on holiday.

    I am so looking forward to going home for a few weeks, three weeks of catching up with old friends, spending time with my parents, and writing. Bliss.

  4. Hi Pippa,

    My biggest problem is that I have too many responsibilities. I remember when I was a stay at home mom with Hunter (until he turned 2) I thought it was so boring not being around other adults and not really having much to do. What a fool I was. I'd kill to go back to those days now.

    Thank you for the award! There has been some type of bug in the Blogger system the last few days which has prevented me from commenting and posting, but now that it seems to be ok, I will check out your post on the award and do the same later today. It's so cool!

  5. It's sooooooooo hard. But first, I post goals and tell my critique partners so they keep me accountable. I have been doing a Book in Three Months challenge with them and right now it's four months but I'm 5k from goal, so it's definitely kept me hopping. :)

  6. Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for commenting! I have a little writing circle here and we meet about every three weeks or so. That does help. I also am very active (or was until the last month or so) on the eHarlequin boards. On eHQN they have a 'NaNoWriMo' thread each month. You don't need to aim for 50k (like the traditional NaNoWriMo), so it isn'y quite so intense. I aim for a set number of words or chapters edited and posting there helps me to feel accountable.

    Right now though-- with work, cheer, university, and my monster-- I just can't find much time to write. I'm using writing as a reward for getting other things done. :)


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