Tag Archives: discipline

Learning Discipline

Spinweave, with water drops by Wusel007 Wiki Commons

I watched my little spider – I have no idea what type she is – finish her web this morning.

Every morning as the sun comes up; she takes down her web from the night before and weaves a new one. It doesn’t matter if the web has been damaged or not. Every morning she makes a new one.

I’ve never seen the whole process. Her web lies in one of the windows that climb beside my spiral staircase. It is at just the wrong level for me to sit and have a cup of coffee and watch her. She’s very small, not even the size of my thumb nail, and the web about the size of a dinner plate.

Like my spider my mornings start off the same too.

Every morning I get up, make coffee, and climb up the spiral stairs to my computer and my office. I love the sensation of being perched high above the world looking out on the dawn through the muted glass of the skylight.

There is little perfection in my life but like my spider I love my corner of the world. Every morning she spins her silk into a trap and I spin my words into worlds.

She is more industrious than I. But she is an inspiration. That every morning I can take down the world of the night before and recreate anew.

One of the most difficult things for me is working without expectations. I had this problem in the business world. We tend to become attached to outcomes.

The last several weeks I’ve been on a reading blitz – thrillers – written by Preston and Child. One of the things I’ve noticed is that they create tertiary characters that are overconfident and often have become attached to specific outcomes. They almost never have a good ending and rarely make it through to the end of the book. Their heroes, in comparison, have their minds completely on the job at hand unimpeded by the distraction of what might be.   

This intrigued me since I am a dreamer and like to spin out my present to see what my future might contain. I can get attached to outcomes.

The life I am leading is precarious with no givens. I could write my whole life and never publish another piece. This isn’t a job where you get credit for just showing up and being a warm body. No work comes to me – I have to chase it. Spending hours, days, weeks working on projects and then sending them out into the universe hopeful…

This morning, however, I thought of my spider and her, no doubt, genetically programmed discipline. Thought about of the value of working though the moment focused solely on the task at hand.

The list for the day is made. Lots of writing to do, lots of random bits to get through and get done and tomorrow I’ll get up, make my coffee, and check on my spider and start all over again.     

~ Tess


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Fighting the Muse

I’m fighting with my Muse.

The Muses dancing with Apollo, by Baldassare Peruzzi (source: Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve been fighting with her for several weeks now. There is project due at the end of January and as hard as I try to be disciplined about it I just can’t seem to make any progress. This usually happens when I’m writing on a theme and can’t come up with a marketable idea. That was the last one of these projects – great ideas – all of them completely wrong for the publisher.

This time, the idea isn’t the problem. The idea is sound. I have the characters, the plot, everything. I have notes and outlines – what I don’t have is words. I started writing last month, wrote the beginning, realized that I needed to make the plot move faster in the first few pages, figured out what was wrong and then just stalled.

Nothing… for days… weeks…

So today I decided to play with Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die application. I’m not really a competitive person but every now and again something comes along that amuses me and make me not want to lose. I know that when I have to I can write and write and write. It might be junk but I can always put words on paper.

The app feeds into that vanity.

So – this morning I started, using Write or Die to help me tease out my Muse and get this project moving. Like an infusion of caffeine in the morning it is making my little gray cell hop to it.

Which worked!

I wrote something mostly crap but it was crap that was headed the right direction.

The point of freewriting, timed writing, and Write or Die is to quiet the judges in our heads. Kill the critics that are tearing apart every sentence, work, and thought. To go to that place where the magic happens, and the ideas flow from brain to hands without any filters.

It’s funny – every story is different and the path of how the story is written is unique. I never seem to be able to find a process and repeat it. Someday I may figure out how to do this job – but where would be the fun in that?

~ Tess Anderson

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