Writer’s Life: Disciplined? Moi?

At my weekly writing group meeting last night, one of my group members said something that floored me: that I inspired her to be more disciplined.

Huh? Me? I do SO not think of myself as being disciplined. Most of the time I feel like a pinball ricocheting from one bouncy object to the next, hoping to avoid a concussion.

But it made me think about the writing life, and what it takes to pursue it. Most fiction writers, I’d venture to guess, cannot afford to do so full-time. So in order to commit their hearts 100 percent to writing when they can physically only give it 10 percent of their time, well, I guess it takes discipline. Dogged determination. And maybe a bit of self-delusion.

Here’s my schedule. It varies a little during the week, but not much. I leave for the day job at 7:15 a.m. and get home from the day job at 5:15 p.m. I have dinner. I feed my dogs. Unless I’m on a hard deadline for book revisions or edits, I spend a couple of hours in the care and company of my octogenarian mom, who stays alone all day. About 8:30 p.m. I turn on the computer, check e-mail, respond to what I must, do a blog for the next day. From 9-11 p.m., I write. From 11-midnight, I read. From midnight to 6 a.m. I sleep. Then I do it all over again.

Hmph. Sounds pretty disciplined. All those pesky errands and household stuff get done on the weekend.

I don’t have kids or a spouse to worry about. My friendships have probably suffered. But there it is. It’s discipline and, in a way, it’s bondage.

So, what’s your B&D routine? As always, comment for a chance to win this week’s giveaway: the 2010 Writers Market, with a one-year subscription to writersmarket.com. An extra entry per comment for followers!

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate’s Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man’s Curse; Black Diamond).

7 thoughts on “Writer’s Life: Disciplined? Moi?

  1. I’m lucky right now that I only have to work part time. So most weeks, I only work 2-3 days. On those days, I try to get my blog post done in the morning and then I work on writing for 30 minutes to an hour. I make up for it on my off days. On those days, I do my blog post first and then get my pages done. I usually have a set number I want to get done. Some days I do more. Some I do the required number. I also don’t have kids, though I am married and try not to work too long when he’s home in the evening.

  2. I wake up around noon, when my 18 month old son gets up for the day. Then I spend time with him, playing, changing his diaper, feeding him, until it’s naptime at 3. Then he sleeps for three hours, during which I usually check my email and then work on short stories. Once he wakes up, it’s back to watching him. On days when the weather’s nice, we’ll walk to the park. I spend the rest of the evening with baby and hubby. Once they go to bed (usually midnight), I again check my email and do what I want on the computer until 1 and work on my novel until I’m too tired. Lately I’ve been staying up until 3:30-4am. It’s a crazy schedule, I know, but it’s the only way I can get writing done and not have it interfere with family time so it works for me, and that’s all that matters. In the past two days, I’ve added over 6,600 words to my assassin novel.

    Btw, this nice little schedule will be all shot to heck once baby #2 is born (due in August). Another reason why I’m trying to get as much writing done now as I can, before the baby’s born.

  3. Nice hook, bondage and discipline, huh? My routine is far more varied. I write every day, but hardly ever at the same time. My favorite,and most productive, place to write is my local diner, where I have an appropriately Hemingwayesque reputation. Well, sorta, anyway.

  4. Great comments, guys. Riley, I’m most envious of your schedule, although Bart, yours is romantic and Hemingwayesque indeed.

    Nicole, wow. My hat’s off to you, girl. Congrats on the new baby, and on having the determination to find writing time!

    And Shawn, well, I hear you. Procrastination is one of my greatest talents. Which is why I’m playing on my blog instead of writing!

  5. I’ve had a few different routines with varying degrees of success. (Except for me it’s practicing music, but it amounts to something similar.)

    For a long time it was the “so long as I get x amount of time in per day” mindset and it worked pretty well as long as I got one hour in early. There was usually a late night hour at 10 or 11 too.

    For one summer I did nothing but work and practice. Get up at 6, practice 2 hours with a half hour break to make lunch, etc, then work from 10-7, come home and play 2 more hours. That was incredibly effective! Of course, I had no life at all for 4 months.

    But for me…I have to set a time, or I’ll procrastinate and it won’t get done! Deadlines are my friend!

  6. I’m that way too, Bynra–I finally had to set that specific time to write every day or it would get shuffled behind everything else. Yes, I’d imagine music would be the same way. Doesn’t take long for the skills to get rusty!