I assume you answered “yes,” that you’re willing to commit to writing on a regular basis. Then, during your regular writing stints, concentrate. That’s the third cardinal factor of discipline: Set things up so you have as few excuses as possible not to write. Turn off the phone. Eliminate other distractions. Put a “Do Not Disturb” note on your door. Tell your friends and family that between the hours of whatever and whatever you are not to be disturbed. That is sacred time.
When I say “concentrate,” I don’t mean that you have to expend huge quantities of mental energy. “Focus” may be more like it. What that period of time is for is writing. If you’re at the stage of thinking up ideas, spending half an hour daydreaming – about your characters or how to write your article – may be perfectly appropriate. That is part of writing! If you’re trying to complete a specific writing project, then include in what you can be doing during your writing time things besides putting words down on paper that you need to do in order to finish. For example, you may need to do interviews, research, fact-checking, finding your notes in the closet.
A woman in one of my workshops hadn’t touched her unfinished dissertation in twelve years. When she spent twenty minutes to find it and put it on her desk, she took a major stride toward finishing it.
What can you do to focus more during your regular stints of writing? Think about that question now, and in the next lesson, we’ll go on to the importance of having a system for saving ideas.