Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Insecure Writer and Maintaining Discipline


Today is November's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an insecure writer this month?

Wondering if I have the necessary discipline to be a writer.  

I’m beginning to learn that writing, regardless of whether you’re a part-time or full-time writer, requires discipline.

Back when I had a 9-5 job and the demands of a family, I didn’t have a set schedule for writing. I wrote whenever I could find the time. Ten minutes here, 30 minutes there. The process wasn’t optimal, but it worked well enough to allow me to progress through my story. 

Today, I’m tutoring part-time, and my kids are old enough to take care of themselves. Yet despite the extra time available to me, I’m not being very efficient with how I use it. I still run downstairs to my office and write whenever I have the chance, but now I have more tasks to worry about. Author comps, cover design queries, critique groups, blog posts. I'll admit I've scarcely thought about these things  in the last several months. Heck, I even let the first Wednesday of the month sneak up on me once again, even though I had it marked on Google calendar. (Needless to say, I’m adding multiple reminders from now on.)

What I need is to work up a real schedule so my efficiency improves, but that’s easier said than done. My tutoring sessions vary from day to day, from week to week, so any schedules I might prepare would have to be viewed more as guidelines. And even if I do work up a reasonable schedule, I’ll admit I’ve never been good at following them. Bad author! Bad, bad author!

We'll see what happens.

Optional November question: Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

I write because it allows me to use my imagination and be creative. I write in the hopes that other people will enjoy seeing where my imagination takes them. That's pretty much it for me.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 



  1. Every Sunday, map out your week of tutoring, then slot some writing time in between. That way, even though it's varied, you'll still know when you are supposed to write.
    You didn't miss the day though! Because you know what happens when you do...

  2. Here's hoping you can slot in more time. Many people thrive on writing in bursts through the day and can accumulate a lot that way.

  3. You've been through a lot of changes - it takes time to get in the new groove. I wrote for years in those 10 and 15 minute chunks. Having grown up kids is much easier!

  4. I like Alex's idea of mapping out your week every Sunday. I sort of do that--not really a schedule but I'm trying to get more organized with what tasks I want to get done on each day.

  5. I think mapping out a week is a great idea. I do that sometimes, but not others.
    Also, as a writing tutor, even though I don't have a lot of students, I've found it really helps my time management to keep specific hours set aside for tutoring. This limits the number of people I tutor, but it also helps me know my schedule and set a writing time for myself. NOt saying I have it all figured out yet, but it helps.

  6. I suck at keeping to schedules and making time to write. Often times, other people create havoc on my writing. I hope you manage a schedule and also manage to stick to it!

  7. I tried a schedule, it worked for a while, and then not. Now I set goals. I wasn't writing for months, but now that the words are coming, I set a goal of writing at least one page a day. I don't force it though. If I don't have the time, then I hope I'll have the time the next day.

  8. I cannot stick to a schedule, Ken, no matter how hard I try. You'd think that would be easy, given I'm retired and isolated at home. Some of us are not meant to be scheduled. I do better with goals, so I'm making myself participate in NaNo this year. Good luck to you, just don't give up writing!

  9. I'm on a completely different routine than I used to be and it's a lot more flexible. Like others have mentioned here, writing sprints really help me. There are quite a few on YouTube right now, especially for NaNo.

  10. Good luck figuring out your schedule. The bottom line is that your work as a tutor is important and you have to work around it. I should have more time to write now that I live alone and work part-time, but my work, taking care of my mom, getting yardwork and housework sometimes get in the way. I am trying to write a little every month for NaNo and it's working. Maybe it'll help you too.

  11. Well, keep at it and it will work out eventually. 'Til then muddle through like the rest of us. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  12. Discipline is easy when you're answerable to other people. It's a lot harder when you have to be your own boss.

    I've had some success setting quotas for myself rather than schedules. I know I have to spend a certain amount of time writing each day, or each week. I try to get my writing done as early as possible, but if something comes up, I have the flexibility to do my writing later instead. It's not a perfect system, but it works better for my situation.

  13. I've been battling that, too. I have more time, so I procrastinate, thinking 'I have time.' But I also have more interruptions now that my kids are out of grade school. I'll sink into writing only to have one of them walk by and ask me a question or ask me to do something for them. I miss the days of being alone from 7 till 3 every weekday.