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 750words.com, 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.