Writing and the art of poor self-discipline

I held off on publishing this for a few hours because I didn’t really want to put out such a negative assessment of my attitudes and aptitudes towards writing, when it’s obviously not something I feel all the time. Then I decided after another three hours at home spent not writing, to publish it anyway. Just remember, I hesitated on this one.

‘I could create / like it was stealing’ – Reuben, ‘Suffocation of the Soul’

With various writing projects on the go at any one time, I’m a victim of my own overly-active brain, juggling story ideas and fresh blog material. When it comes time to commit to paper or screen though, there’s ten things I’d rather be doing which are just avoidance tactics.

Ironically enough, it feels like what I’m doing here in writing a blog post about avoidance tactics is, in itself, an avoidance tactic.

writing self discipline

Poor self-discipline

You see, I have very poor self-discipline. I’m almost certain that it’s a perfectly normal trait for a self-confessed geek to have – a short attention span comes with the territory when on the hunt for the next shiny thing – but for someone who writes not only nine-to-five but in spades of my spare time as well it can’t be good.

My current problem is even more annoying – I’m trying to write a script and I just don’t have the patience to get it all down while my characters are furiously arguing over stuff in my head.

So when I fill up almost an entire lunch hour trying to scribble it all down, it feels immensely satisfying knowing that some of the process has been completed. With a notepad just about full to bursting, I’m ready to get home from work and start typing up – once I’ve had dinner with my lady and talked about our days, plus fitting in an episode of whatever programme we’re in deep with (Marvel’s Agent Carter was fantastic, since you asked), I should be ready to make a coffee and get cracking with the creative stuff.

So that’s what I try to do.

Eyes off the clock

But take last night as an example: knowing that I’ve got an evening to myself I get home fully intending to write up or just write some pages, but instead of hitting the home office I watch Wrestling With Shadows, a documentary about Bret Hart and the Montreal Screwjob filmed as it happened.

Knowing that I’ll have an hour and a half left of my evening before Zoë comes home from work after the film’s finished, I spend 20 minutes trying to make a video of me laughing scornfully at something Vince McMahon says during the film. (I rarely make videos. I think I really was stalling for time here.)

With an hour left, and seeing as my PS4’s already switched on – y’know, just for the sake of convenience – I load up Rocket League and promise myself I’ll just have one five-minute game.

Five games later, three of which I lost, I’m left unsatisfied with the gaming session and decide that now I’ll get that time back by writing.

Lessons learned

I type up what I scribbled during the day, and before I know it I’ve no time left to go from transcribing to actual writing. I failed to use my time wisely, and although I’m not about to regret the time spent relaxing earlier, I do curse a wasted opportunity to create.

But there’s the rub. Keeping a constant eye on the clock like I did last night doesn’t help at all; creating is hard enough without feeling the pressure of time.

I think that these two things might be the secret to self-discipline; ease off on the guilt and be confident that I will create without the need to time my progress.

Do you agree? What are your tips for writing self-discipline?

One thought on “Writing and the art of poor self-discipline

  1. I can really relate to this. I scold myself regularly for basically being so goddamn lazy. I have so many ideas in my head, goals I want to achieve and I end up scanning Netflix for 45 minutes, watching the same Adventure Time episodes until 10 o’clock and then retiring to bed to look at Instagram for another half an hour. The thought of actually constructing sentences and looking at a screen after doing it all day at work is less than appealing. I’ve just set up a proper desk though, which I hope will help. Sitting on the sofa to write is not the best idea.

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