Wednesday, January 6, 2010

DISCIPLINE: the first step toward success

IN THE NEWS: Police say an Ohio woman punched through a McDonald's drive-through window because Chicken McNuggets weren't available. Read more HERE.

RECENT IPOD DOWNLOAD: "You Belong with Me" by Taylor Swift


I mentioned on Monday's blog post that I started reading a new book for writers. Actually, I saw it first on literary agent Steve Laube's blog. He gave it a nine thumbs up review, so of course I couldn't resist buying myself a copy.

It's called "The Art of War for Writers" by James Scott Bell.


Over the break, I mentioned this book to a friend and why I bought it. After she rolled her eyes, she asked, "Oh, well if Steve Laube told you to jump off a bridge would you do that, too?" Ha! Nnnnn... Yyyyy... No.

Maybe.

NO! No, of course I would not jump off a bridge because he said so. Pffft! What a silly question!

Regardless, I'm really glad--no, THRILLED I bought the book, because not only is it full of spot on advice and info but it's an extremely easy read, too. This is a book that makes me get all pumped up to start taking my career by the horns. Perfect timing with the new year! :)


The one chapter that really made me sit up and take notice was the author's chapter four. He talks about discipline. Ugh. The bane of my prolific writing ability.


(In other words, I don't sit my butt in the writing chair as regularly as I should. ) :)


The Mr. Bell simply states in that chapter that "Victory in anything, from war to football, is founded in training and discipline. Nothing worthwhile is gained by sloth and wishful thinking."


Whoa, did that hit me full-on in the face.


The main writing area I suffer in is discipline. Yes, I'm writing and I'm finishing books, but I could be producing much faster, thus could have much more writing success. So what is a poorly disciplined writer like myself to do? The author gives this advice: establish and set writing quota goals every week.

I like this. I usually set daily goals and become disgusted with myself if something comes up during the day, like I get a headache or I'm tired or someone pops in, etc... and I don't meet my goal.


Setting a WEEKLY goal gives you flexibility. If something comes up one day unexpectedly, you still have the rest of the week to meet your goal. If you look ahead in your calendar and see you have soccer games and doctor appointments aplenty, you know to not set your quota too aggressively for that particular week. The point is you're setting some sort of weekly goal and meeting it.


The author even goes on to say, "If you're going to be obsessive about anything in the writing business, make it your word quota."


Love that! And I'm totally obsessive compulsive enough to make this the one writing change I'm going to do this year.


Have you read this book?
What's the one change you're going to make to your writing career this year?

44 comments:

Katie Ganshert said...

Ooo! Thnks for the review! I'm always looking for great craft books. I shall have to purchase this one!

Weird news story too, by the way. :)

Keri Mikulski said...

Thanks for the recommendation..

Love the quotes - so true. :)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I loved that about word quota. It helped to sharpen my writing discipline. I'm going to become harder on myself as an editor this year.
~ Wendy

Joanne said...

I'm an itinerary person, working best with weeks and longer term broken down in that way. So I'll be finetuning those writing itineraries!

Nisa said...

Great post! I think I should read this one! Good luck with your writing change! :)

Walt M said...

Every time I hear the word "discipline," I always flash back to the original Jungle Book movie and the elephant general. However, I have finally set a weekly word goal for myself, based on some guidance from a blog post by Camy Tang on Seekerville. You can write 100,000 words, just by 500 words/day five times per week for 40 weeks (giving you 12 weeks of life going nuts). Will try this and see if I can maintain it.

Jessica said...

I haven't read it but man, that quote about sloth and wishful thinking really does hit me in the face.
Thanks for sharing all this!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Oooh--that's a great idea! I have this book and cannot wait to read it! Have had so much going on that reading a book on craft was put on the backburner. But I am so excited about it!

My goal for right now is to do what I can until I move. Once I do and have a better idea of my schedule, I'm going to set real goals. :0)

Tracy said...

I've never set a word count goal, but I think I'm going to give it a go. The weekly thing is perfect for my crazy schedule, because it leaves me weekends to catch up!

Linda Kage said...

Thanks for the title. Your enthusaism makes me want to check it out.

Stephanie said...

I'm disciplined about everything else, WHY NOT WRITING?!?! Thanks for the tip, I might have to get that one!

Kristen Painter said...

Discipline is the hardest part!

Catherine Denton said...

I've picked this up on more than one occasion. I'm gonna have to get it.

As far as the one change in my writing...Stop Editing! Not entirely, but while I'm writing editing can bring me to a standstill.

Karen said...

I haven't read it, but I want to now! Self discipline (or lack thereof) is the bane of my existence.

T. Anne said...

I was just thinking the same thing. I could be much more productive. Or at least in theory. ;)

Heather said...

I've had my eye on this book for awhile, but was wondering if it was any good - thanks for the review!

Melissa Johnson said...

I love that about a weekly goal for flexibility. Right now, with a daily goal, I'm seeing a pattern of every other day. Maybe I better just keep it and live with the disappointment..every other day. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Stephanie: I KNOW! I'm disciplined in other areas of my life, too! What's the matter with me? LOL

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Words of wisdom - victory is founded on discipline.
The changes I'm going to make are in e-mailing submissions - I'm still following the ONLY two at a time (and waiting for responses) is driving me to distraction.
This is my Year of Editing -Dangerously!

Janna Qualman said...

Hi, Jennifer! That's a stand-out to me, too. Ack, the lack of discipline sometimes! I'll have to give the book a try.

Really? For chicken nuggets? I can understand the disappointment, because sometimes I can't stop if I have a craving, but breaking the window?

Candee Fick said...

You just had to ruin my day by using the "d" word. *wink* That's probably, er, is my biggest problem so I like to use the weekly goal idea. (With a special needs child entering puberty, my life can go crazy at any moment.)

Now, if I want Saturday to be a relaxing day, then I'd better get off the Internet and get more words written.

BTW, I love the way James Scott Bell teaches the craft of writing. Clear. Direct. Concrete examples. And a touch of humor along with that kick in the pants.

Tara McClendon said...

I've learned to push myself to get things done early in the week if I have something scheduled. For some reason, I rarely manage to catch up at the end of the week. Good luck with your goals.

Susan R. Mills said...

Well, you sold me. I could use a little discipline in my writing. As a stay at home mom with kids all in school, I have all the time in the world to write. The problem is, I don't use all that time for writing. I'll have to check into that book. Thanks for sharing.

Karen Lange said...

I'm thinking I need to check this book out. Love his work and his other writing advice. Thanks for sharing this:)

Jordana Ryan said...

What wonderful advice! Thank you so much for the book review and recommendation! Great words of wisdom and definitely something on my to buy and read list!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Thanks for the review! Looks like I have one more book to add to my pile now...thanks (no really, thanks!). : )

PatriciaW said...

Discipline...ahhh. My big challenge too.

Big wake up there from Mr. Bell, but I like it.

Making this my one true writing goal for the year would be good. Everything else follows.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I am buying this book! Today. Right now. Amazon Prime 1 click shopping, two day shipping, here I come! :-)

Thanks for the enthusiastic recommendation.

destrella said...

The word flashing in neon lights to me everywhere I look is "discipline", so thank you for yet another confirmation. Putting my life on track in as many aspects as I can. Thanks for the encouragement! :O)

Tamika: said...

I love James Scott Bell! I've decided to dedicate 50% of my reading this year to craft books. So far there are five on the list- this one just got added.

Thanks Jennifer! I forgive you for letting Mr. Bell knock me in the face too!

Steve Laube said...

Please do NOT jump off a bridge.

Steve
The Steve Laube Agency

ajgallion said...

I'm so happy I came upon your blog. The words "sloth and discipline" somehow make me feel guilty suddenly.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

That book sounds excellent. I set a goal of 1k a day until I finish a WIP but I'm already seeing that some days I can't. So the weekly goal sounds like a good one. Thanks, not only for the rec, but for a great reading post.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I don't set a specific word count daily, but I do make myself write for a specific amount of time, at least 2 to 3 hours and I far exceed that most days, but not during the past holiday season. That's what works for me.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Tamika: That's a great idea!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Steve: Whew! Thank goodness. LOL

Diane Craver said...

I haven't read his book but will definitely think about buying it...even though he rejected my Christmas book. :)

storyqueen said...

Yikes...the word count quota!

Might have to think about this.


I really like your blog!

Shelley

Patti Lacy said...

Okay, Jennifer. You just sealed the purchase of the art of war as you are the fifth recommendation. On the list.
Ready, aim----charge!!!

Love this blog.

Patti
www.pattilacy.com/blog

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I actually don't have this book. Amazing!! I have so many, how did I miss getting this one?

For me, this year I want to work on writing a little each and every work day, rather than going on huge writing blitzes that eat up my whole day. We'll see how I do. That schedule starts next Monday...I HOPE!

Glynis said...

Thanks for the recommendation, I will treat myself.

Karen said...

I have not read it, but it's on my list now.

This year I set goals, created action plans, and made a calendar. And so far, I am exceeding my intended targets.

Thanks for the book tip.

Kathy said...

Sounds good.

I was in Borders yesterday with my gift card and couldn't figure out which book to buy.

persuasive said...

I'm very thankful to the author for posting such an amazing development post. Continuing to the post. Thanks.





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