By Jeffrey Ricker
In just about every aspect of life these days, I’ve been pretty much the equivalent of a juvenile delinquent.
My eating habits have devolved to something slightly above those of a college student. A glass of wine becomes “well the bottle’s open we might as well finish it off.” A recent little accident led to a pulled muscle, which meant I didn’t get to the gym for almost three weeks. Now, if I’d been disciplined, I’d have reined in my eating habits to compensate. But, no.
On top of all that, my writing output has slowed to a trickle because I’m working on revising a story that’s become complicated and a bit murky, and I’m perpetually procrastinating on starting the second draft of book number two. A day’s worth of good intentions go out the browser window when I sit down to look something up online and—ooh, shiny!
Note that by loss of discipline I don’t mean lack of inspiration. Personally, I don’t believe in waiting until inspiration strikes in order to write, and I don’t know any serious writers who do either. To me, that’s like saying, “I don’t think I’ll go to the office and work until I really feel inspired.” That’s a surefire way to get fired.
In other words, if I had to punch a clock on my writing lately, I’d have been out on my ass some time ago.
On the suggestion of my friend Scott, I’ve decided to carve out a tiny island of discipline in this month, at least. I’ve signed up for 100 Words, which basically only has one rule: write 100 words a day, every day, for a month. It can be about anything. The entries don’t have to be individual stories; they don’t have to add up to be a complete story by the end of the month (though I suppose they could, which is an interesting idea, now that I think of it). It’s a little less (OK, a lot less) daunting than NaNoWriMo, and in my case, I hope it helps springboard me into further writing for the rest of the day.
I’m on day five now, and it hasn’t really done that, but at least I’ve got five vignettes that I didn’t have at the beginning of the month.
I’d love to hear how others tackle this situation, so tell me: what do you do when you’ve lost your discipline?
(Excerpt from “Lifeblood,” published in Blood Sacraments from Bold Strokes Books)
Let’s get one thing straight: I never bit Darren. I never drank from him. I never tried to turn him into one of us. I didn’t even think about it until the end. If I’d offered, though, he would have said no, of course. I could have begged, but I think I’ve forgotten how to do that. I would have done anything Darren wanted. I would have walked right out into broad daylight if he’d asked me to.