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Friday, January 14, 2005

THE ART OF DISCIPLINE (or should this be THE ART OF PROCRASTINATION?

"THE VERY TRUE BEGINNING OF HER WISDOM IS THE DESIRE OF DISCIPLINE, AND THE CARE OF DISCIPLINE IS LOVE." The Apocrypha ("The Hidden Books" found in the Alexandrian Greek Scriptures)

Here I am with a full day ahead of me in which to write and, as is my usual habit, I am procrastinating. Procrastination is the thief of time, it's said. Or is it just the 'art of keeping up with yesterday'? No matter, I'm an expert at it. (Just the very act of sitting here writing my blog instead of working on my novel is an example of what an expert procrastinator I am!)

One thing you learn early on, if you want to pursue a writing career, is "DISCIPLINE". If you don't have it, you'll never get any of your projects finished. And believe me, it's one of the most difficult things to achieve.

When I am living in Greece (where I sometimes go for several months for the purpose of researching and writing) I have found it much easier to stay disciplined than I do here at home. So long as I allow myself a certain amount of time each morning before beginning my 'work', I manage to stay on track. For instance, I'll rise early, do chores and errands, then allow myself a certain amount of 'procrastination' time, usually spend doing cross-words or playing a few games of Solitaire. (I prefer the kind with real cards, but here at home I use the computer games.) These are limited to no more than 5 games or two or three cross-words. In fact, these activities are a kind of 'meditation' that settles my mind and clears my brain before I begin my writing day.

My best time for writing is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. with a break for lunch or exercise, although if I'm on a 'roll' I often forget to break. It is now 10.30 a.m. That means I have only half an hour left to procrastinate. Then I simply must get down to it!

For a couple of days this week I stayed indoors all day. But did I do a lot of writing? Well, I composed a couple of blogs and made some notes for my novel, wrote one short new chapter segment and edited another. Today I must try and get on with more new writing. Time is slipping by and the novel has already taken me much longer than I would have dreamed.
Besides, I have other writing tasks to get done including a couple of travel articles. Travel writing is my 'bread and butter' writing and, alas! I am very remiss at sending out stories.
I have also been working on a new play (more about that later) but since before the end of '04 became disillusioned with it and decided to shelve it in favour of finishing the never-ending Homeric epic I am writing.

Yesterday I decided it was high time to get out in the snow and enjoy the sunny day. One method I have of 'clearing my head' is to go for a walk in our lovely Stanley Park. Yesterday I joined a friend and we went for a snowy walk through the Park and along the sea wall. If I had been alone, I'd have listened to music as I walked and taken along my notebook to jot down random ideas that always come to me when I am walking. Yesterday my friend and I enjoyed conversation, including talk about writing (she's also a writer) and theatre and life in general. It was a pleasant way to the spend the early afternoon and the fresh air, lovely surroundings and interesting company was a good way to rejuvenate my creativity. Today, I really MUST get down to business.

Rules for protecting your writing time:
( 1) try not to be distracted by unnessessary telephone calls.
(2) No matter what, don't have the TV on!
(3) If you have kids or partners around, make sure you choose a work time when they are not going to disturb you even if that means writing in the middle of the night. Lucky me, I live alone!
(4) Make sure your work space is not cluttered or it will distract you. Oops! Time for a clean-up.
(5) Tell your friends you can't come out to play until your work is finished.

Anyway, those are the basic rules. Oh,oh! Time's up, and I better get down to business.

"I have found power in the mysteries of thought,
exaltation in the chanting of the Muses;
I have been versed in the reasonings of men;
but Fate is stronger than anything I have known." Euripides (485-406 BC)


3 comments:

P. Giorgio said...

Your list of five suggestions are right on! Beside me is a pile of unread mail and books, next to tax forms, bird food and ... oh it's too exhaustive.

Diana Gallagher said...

11am is when my brain really kicks in for some good thoughts, so would be an excellent time for me to start writing on any given day, but alas, on most given days I am at work, hence the name, Day Job...
Oh well, the times, they are hopefully a' changin'!

ozbhoy said...

Why do today, what you can easily do tomorrow. Yes I to am a master of the art of procrastination.