Patience + Discipline = REALLY HARD.

13 May

So, as I’ve been writing this week, the same struggle has been popping up over and over and over again: it’s REALLY HARD to balance discipline with patience.


I can be Czar of Productivity, or I can be Girl Who Puts Thought Into What She Does.  It’s not easy to be both.

On one hand, we have the Czar¹of Productivity version of me.  Give me a calendar, and I will whip up the most ambitious color-coded schedule, complete with alarm alerts that sound like submarines.  I’ll even follow it, and be excited about following it.

On the other hand, we have Girl Who Puts Thought Into What She Does.  Though this girl loves discipline in theory, she also loves freedom.  Freedom to write what she feels like writing, when she feels like writing it.  Freedom to write for another hour past that stupid submarine alert (which then begins to remind her of the Jin and Sun Tragedy).

What I’m learning this week is that the Czar has the tendency to be a bit more dominant.  This leads to a feeling of go, go, go, Go, GO! in me, an unsettled get-everything-done-NOW! feeling.  This feeling lies to me, telling me that I must produce, and produce a lot.  That words are the fruit of each hour, and the less I have, the worse I’ve done.

That.  Is.  Not.  True.

Just because I’m devoting more hours to writing, and devoting more hours to different projects, it does not mean the writing itself will automatically go faster.  That, at the end of the day, just because I’m in ‘productive mode,’ I’ll end up with pages upon pages to show for it.

To remedy this, here’s what I’m doing.

First, I’ve realized that hour-long blocks of time make me feel too rushed.  The time flies too quickly, and I try to cram too many hour-long blocks of different tasks into the same morning/afternoon.  This produces that unsettled bubbly feeling in me, and it makes me write fast instead of write well.  Therefore, I’m doing things in 1.5- to 2-hour blocks, instead, and I’m putting them in different times of the day instead of back-to-back.  Making, and sticking to, a schedule does not mean that schedule has to be tight, tight, tight.  Kind of like a financial budget, it needs to allow for real life tendencies, not just the ideal.

Second, I’m learning patience.  Patience to allow myself the freedom to think, and to think deeply, about the words I put on the page.  Patience to sit in the chair and think, or write, hopefully both, during the whole time I’ve scheduled for the project at hand.  I’m reminding myself to slow down, to insert myself into whatever scene I’m writing, and not worry about quantity as long as what I’ve written feels like quality.

These fixes are already working well.  I finished revising a particularly stubborn scene this morning, one who’s been quite the diva.  That felt good.

Ironically, I’m on a time crunch right now — I’m about to go pick up my sister-in-law at the airport.  A few more things before I go, though: in case you’re wondering why I put a picture of my potted plants, it’s not just because they’re pretty.  I thought they were a good representation of discipline and patience, and planned to write more about that.  (Basically, just that you have to have discipline to water them, but you can’t force them to grow.  Helpful writing analogy, in my opinion.)

Also, to all you sweet new friends I’ve met through Merrilee’s workshop, I’ve given you a horrible impression of my ability to respond to comments in a reasonable time!  This week has been abnormally crazy, and I’m dying to write back to all of your comments.  Thank you for leaving them, and I plan to get better at responding in the future.

You people rock.  It’s off to the airport, and out of this freezing place they call a coffee shop.  I’m guessing they keep it below zero to encourage patrons to purchase more steaming mugs of awesomeness?  (It works on me.)


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6 Responses to “Patience + Discipline = REALLY HARD.”

  1. J.C Thursday / 13 May 10 at 3:10 pm #

    Sounds like a good change – though I totally envy you your 1.5-2hr blocks! far out! I don’t think I could concentrate for that long anymore 😉

  2. Kerryn Thursday / 13 May 10 at 3:43 pm #

    Oh I understand your plight so, so well. I’m having to completely re-learn my writing discipline and re-train my brain to keep my critic/inner editor in check. I started writing tonight (Yay) but in 10 minutes I wrote 200 words where I used to be able to write 500 words. That was the old me, the one who hadn’t neglected her creativity and stopped writing so I need to learn patience and to throw away by old expectations.

    Good luck with your schedule adjustments and reply just when you can. 🙂

  3. Merrilee Thursday / 13 May 10 at 4:59 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes! I completely agree. It’s damned hard. I’m also a productivity devotee, I have to be to get anything done between bubs, the business and writing. But sometimes I just want to say “STOP”, and have the luxury to think.

    Ah well. We work with what we are given.

  4. Chibi Friday / 14 May 10 at 8:36 am #

    Yep. When I’m on a rush of productivity, I can get a ton of things done, but I don’t even remember what I’ve written. I can write 8k in one day, sure, but the next morning I’ll wake up with no idea of where I stopped. On the other hand, too much patience and thinking can lead to too little productivity. I think it’s difficult for everyone to achieve that kind of balance. I personally like putting things in half hour blocks, myself, but you have to find what works for you.

  5. AuroraLee Sunday / 16 May 10 at 11:22 am #

    I definitely have the same problem! Longer blocks on time might be the answer for me as well… Luckily I have most of this week off, so hopefully I’ll be able to ‘get back into it’.


  1. The Verdict | Creativity Workshop Goals, Week 2 « Owl and Sparrow - Monday / 17 May 10

    […] far as the process itself went, last week was a learning experience.  I already touched on my difficulties with balancing discipline with patience.  Flexibility in my schedule, as opposed to sheer rigidity, helped get me into a more creative […]

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