"Discipline Is the Cornerstone to Writing"


I've been trying to figure out how to introduce this post, and an introduction is just not forthcoming, so since I'm short on time, let's just jump right in, shall we?  Okey dokey.

A couple of people were less than enthused about my post "Why I Threw Your Writing in the Trash" because my tone was so blunt.  In fact, it was apparently so up-front honest and blunt that my final wrap-up and ostensibly encouraging statements - 
Buckle up and buckle down.  Love [writing].  Let it empower you.  Be passionate about it.  But respect it.  Respect those of us who know better than to dabble.  Writing is a demanding art - just like all the others - so come to it with the respect it deserves!  YOU'VE GOT THIS.
- were overlooked.  Maybe that's because we're used to being very gentle with ourselves - and with others.  Which is not a bad thing.  It's good to be gentle.  But sometimes you have to be hard.  


My post was actually nothing compared to how I treat myself.  Which is maybe not the point, but LET ME JUST SAY, if you think I'm giving myself special treatment, OH HO NO GEE GOLLY NUH UH.  I will tear myself to shreds and push myself far, far outside my comfort zone (what even is comfort zone anymore?) to better myself at my craft.  Got that?  Okay.
 Yes, I, too, was a teenager - not that long ago, really - but I never read or wrote in just the same genre so I can't speak to that clique. However, I won't condone foolishness just because it is done in ignorance; I'd rather shake it up and shake it off.
One of the best things that can happen to you as a writer is to be told, Okay.  You want this?  WORK FOR IT.  Trust me!  Was I foolish as a young writer? Absolutely!  Was I dillydallying and playing around?  No, I was not.  I worked.  I had a blind devotion to writing, and I just. kept. going.  Whatever it was, I just kept writing, putting down stories, working with new plots, crafting new ways of dealing with characters, story-telling, everything.  I loved writing and I wanted to do it always.  I wanted it to be amazing.  I wanted to do my best.  Maybe you weren't like that - that's okay.  But there comes a point when you need to be shook up and made to see - do you want this or not, and are you willing to work for it as it deserves?  

 Well, doesn't that make you so special, Jenny.
No, it doesn't.  All it means is that I had a slight head-start on knowing what I wanted to do, and I was too young at the time to be bombarded by the internet distracting me from my course.  I had a blind commitment to what I was doing, and it's stood me in good stead.  
"What are you doing?  Get up!  Do you think anyone cares about your pain?  Get up!"
From the scraps of my Gingerune manuscript, this particular quote stands out to me.  Ginger's bull-dancing instructor, although he cares about Ginger, knows the hard truth: you have to get back up and keep going, harder than ever - and no one actually cares about your pain.  Oh, your friends care.  Your family cares.  But no one else cares.  If you want to make anything of yourself, of your writing, you are going to have to push yourself until your brain is raw sometimes, and just face up to the fact that no one cares how hard you are working, all they see are the results, good or bad.  

I am no one special, you guys.  I have zero formal training, I am abominable at grammar, I rarely even read inside my main genre.  I am no one special.  But you know what I do have?  I have a blind, serious, determined passion to write and to write well.  That's all I ask - of you, of myself.  Rude? No. Harsh? Maybe.  But oh! my darlings, to be told to get up and get going, to be told you can do this! you've got this! is one of the best things that can happen to you as a writer.  And I'm telling this to you.  
Don't lie to yourself.  Don't second-guess yourself.  Don't fool around.  You can be amazing.
title quote courtesy of schuyler

5 ripostes:

  1. Now we're talking. ("Can I get a hell yes? HELL YES!")

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  2. Yes yes yes, thank you. It's a bit painful and uncomfortable for me to hear, but it's definitely what I need to be told (and what I've started telling myself lately).
    For the last few years I've been in a bit of a writing slump (I've never stopped writing completely, but not nearly as much as I used to). I think it's partly because I started being harder on myself, to the point of not being able to overcome my perfectionism; combined with my undisciplined nature. But I have been working on it and this post and the other one have been very timely. Thank you!

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  3. I totally agree with this, Jenny, and the only thing I would have added to your original post is, sometimes the business of Life takes you away from the writing, and so you make what you can of it - and you try to have a life that would be worth writing about - and when you come back to it you'll be ready.

    But I too am impatient with the undisciplined. I don't think you overstated it. You don't produce something worth being taken seriously by grown-ups without doing some growing up yourself. End of story.

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  4. These posts will (and must) resonate with those growing into adulthood with a serious desire to write. I agree, Jenny, that when you're at this stage of life the best advice you can receive is to "get up and get going."

    "If you want to make anything of yourself, of your writing, you are going to have to push yourself until your brain is raw sometimes, and just face up to the fact that no one cares how hard you are working, all they see are the results, good or bad."

    ^ This reminds me of auditioning for any form of theatre. The casting director doesn't care—I repeat: does NOT care—if you are sick. They don't care if you had a horrible day, if your car broke down and you ran that last mile to your audition, or if your cat just died. They demand that you present the best version of yourself—quite frankly that you /get over/ yourself—and show them your art. No excuses. Excuses are not accepted. You do your best, /no matter what/. You get up and you show up. You know that you're replaceable, everyone else knows that you’re replaceable, and you must give them a reason to cast /you/.

    I think this parallels serious writing. Any kind of artistic work demands your best at all times. It's not a comfortable truth, but, like you said, it's how the world works. Plain and simple.

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  5. So thrilled to be quoted. ^_^

    I thought the conversation in the comments on your last post was fascinating, from the perspective of bouncing off and expanding the discussion, but I would agree with your points. Just like there isn't much call to buckle down and pursue holiness in the church, so there isn't a lot of talk about seriously, persistently pursuing art. So I immensely enjoyed these articles.

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