What separates great writers from good writers? Discipline.
When I coach creative writers, I stress one key point: If you want to be a skilled writer, you need to be disciplined. You have to put that bum in the seat EVERY DAY for at least an hour, writing new work (and not editing).
I underline this behaviour because there’s no shortcut around it. Many writers want to have written, to be published, to see their book on the shelf, but how many of them want to slog through the tough work of toiling through hours of that blinking cursor, trying to figure out best to express what they want to get out to the world.
I don’t believe we are born with innate talent to be outstanding writers. It takes skill, and skill is paired best with discipline. Focusing on writing every day will help you build a routine that will bring so much positivity to your career: you’ll feel productive and efficient, and tackling major projects won’t seem as daunting when you have a schedule built int your day.
Each writing session doesn’t have to produce glittering gems. I encourage my students to dabble in free writing if the muse hasn’t graced their souls with divine inspiration: Spend at least 10 minutes by writing as much as you can, your fingers never leaving the paper/keyboard, and don’t worry about spelling or grammar or punctuation. Free writing is like stretching before playing sports; you’ll get warmed up for the more arduous task ahead.
One of my students once asked, “I should write even I’m not in the mood at all, and I know I’ll be producing drivel?” YES! Discipline isn’t about writing when the iron is hot but developing a strong habit that becomes akin to muscle memory. That’s why I think it’s valuable to find a time in your day that you schedule for your writing, whether that’s early morning (which many parents prefer) or in the evening when the house is quietest. I’ve found that an afternoon writing session can be most difficult to schedule due to family obligations and the energy levels waning come 3 p.m.
If you want to level up to become a great writer, you have every opportunity to do so if you stick to a routine and get typing. Let me know if you have any feedback on discipline and focus, as I always appreciate reader comments!