Discipline

Lately, the question I hate to hear is, “So how’s your writing going?” This question makes me cringe. This question reminds me that my writing is not going. Yes, I’ve started a hundred things. Like a monster, I leave my characters waiting to feel complete. Because that’s all we ever want, right? A feeling of completeness. But lately I’ve been feeling likeI lack the discipline to be a writer. I’ve been second guessing myself.

I randomly applied to a flash fiction contest for a magazine. I was rejected. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t cry. I thought, “Well, there’s always next time.” But I know there won’t be a next time if I don’t write. I need to find direction. I love writing shorts, but I don’t think I can tell a whole story in a short story. I love writing long, but the muddle in the middle bogs me down and makes me want to stop. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I need to do it, because it makes me feel complete, fulfilled, and most of all happy and content. But sometimes I hate to do it, or I hate how much it haunts me when I’m not doing it.

When I was writing, really writing, my brain filled up with so many ideas I could barely keep up. Now I don’t even have blog ideas. I had people telling me how I inspired them. Getting up at 4 in the morning to write, then dealing with kids, coming to a full time job, having a kid on a gymnastics team. Where was the time? But if I’ve learned anything about myself it’s that I’m a better writer when I’m busy. I’m a better writer when I have to squeeze it in. I’m also a better writer when I’m a runner.

Lately, I’ve been training for another half marathon. Yeah, I think I said I’d never do one again, but I changed my mind. The truth is, running helps me keep the weight off, even if it doesn’t help me lose weight (Lord—I wish it did—I feel like I will never get rid of this extra 15 lbs). And running helps center me. I listen to music, but it’s really just a beat, and my mind sorts out problems. Ideas come and go, and they don’t stick, but it does something to my brain. It makes my brain more creative. All the problem solving that comes while my feet are hitting the pavement shows up in the form of writing.

And running is a form of discipline. There are times when I’m running and I feel like stopping. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I stop, and I turn around, and I walk to the house. Sometimes when I do that I feel defeated by myself. Mad at myself. Sometimes I feel okay, because I listened to my body. And there are times when I’m running where I push through. I slow down and then I speed up again, and I achieve my goal of completing the run. These are the times I think I can apply to writing. Pushing through the times where the story feels like it’s going nowhere by just writing some crap-words on paper and getting to the next good part. I need to learn how to apply the discipline I have in my running to my writing. Because we all know that without hard work, we don’t get anywhere. Without the hours of sweat and toil, and manuscripts tossed aside, I would never be published.

So for the next few months, I’m going to work on bringing discipline back to my life, not only with my running but with my writing. I started by joining a MOOC over at www.novoed.com called How Writer’s Write Fiction: Storied Women Writers. I’m hoping this will get me started again and allow me to finish something, then revise, then submit, and then hopefully, one day, publish again.