Sunday, October 13, 2013

Discipline and Acceptance

For the last three days I've turned myself out of bed before five to write. Most writers I've read have written in the morning. Wanting to move from a guy who occasionally writes toward becoming a writer, I figured the discipline of rising early would be good for me and already I see good signs.

I've long believed in discipline but not been much of a follower of it. Cracks appear and things fall apart. When I fail a little, I quit a lot. I start things but rarely carry them through. Even when I am disciplined, I often take away the wrong message.

I'm drafting this on, a site that tracks daily writing, for the 114th day in a row. It's a good streak and I'm hoping to beat my record of 146 days, but there's are bigger ideas than the streak.

I have written three quarters of a million daily words and created this blog. That I break a streak is way less important than that I'm writing regularly. One slip does not keep me from being a writer.

This morning my alarm went off at 4:45, but I wasn't feeling rested. I allowed myself ten minutes to rest. It wasn't the end of discipline, it was acceptance of adjustment. I got up at 4:55 and was fine. I came downstairs, switched on the coffee, emptied the dishwasher, and shaved my face. Rinsing the shaving cream off and drying my face, I felt a familiar sniffle. I had a bloody nose, something that often happens to me but which meant that I wasn't going to be able to write for a little while, damn it.

So much for discipline, I thought. But then I said, out loud, it's alright. I knew I would get there.

So I have. I'm 500 words in and have a nose that has stopped bleeding, a mind more awake, and plenty of time to write. Discipline has done its work and so as acceptance. I was taught discipline, but I'm learning acceptance, a higher skill.

The happy surprise these days is that through writing and discipline I'm coming to believe new things. I thought that I had to set a specific goal, plan the steps, work, and measure progress in order to succeed. Most times I set goals and planned steps but then lost the desire and believe that I could get there.

I don't remember who, but someone said that fixing a specific goal is like putting a small target on a faraway wall and throwing a dart hoping to hit the bullseye. The better plan is to pick a wall, throw the dart, then draw a bullseye around it. I like that. My wall is "writing" and I'm committed to the discipline of throwing a dart each morning as I write through the darkness. When the sun comes up, I see what I've hit and draw my bullseye around it.

Some darts don't even hit the wall and I'm learning to accept that. I pick up the dart and give it another throw. Which is another way of saying that every morning, even if I sleep in a bit or have a bloody nose, I set myself at the blank page or screen and I write on.