Monday, January 5, 2009

On Your Mark, Set, Discipline

(closes screen on fifteenth game of Coffee Buzz)*

I'm back. I know I said I was back yesterday, but the book list was kind of lame, I admit. I hope the break didn't make my hundreds of three readers mom lose interest.

And (drum roll), it's Monday and I know many of you are exhausted from chasing your children for two weeks eager to get back to writing. Here's something I am trying this year: discipline.

I was inspired by Anthony Trollope, the famous author of, um, er, (goes to Wikipedia) -- holy cow, that guy wrote a lot of books. Check out the list! Wow. I have read, er, not a single one of those. Huh. Any Trollope fans out there care to recommend a first read? (screws around on Wikipedia a while) -- oh, er, yes, anyway he wrote a lot of books and where was I? Yes! Discipline!

Anthony Trollope was the master of discipline. Rumor -- and by rumor, I mean The New Yorker (finds the link, trolls The New Yorker site) has it that he -- oh, look, it's not rumor; he wrote it himself in his autobiography. Maybe I should read that (spends several minutes following links for Trollope's autobiography).

In ANY case, here is what Trollope did -- by the way, the quote is from The New Yorker; I found it at Daily Routines, which is a cool site (checks out other authors' processes; wonders if reading interview with Orhan Pamuk for fifth time will make her writing as good as his). What? Oh, yes. The quote:

"Every day for years...he woke in darkness and wrote from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., with his watch in front of him. He required of himself two hundred and fifty words every quarter of an hour. If he finished one novel before eight-thirty, he took out a fresh piece of paper and started the next."

Wow. And then he went to his day job with the post office. That is discipline. When did he brainstorm funny Facebook status updates and Google himself?!

I need this. I need this like I need a personal masseuse and a week-long writing and bread eating retreat in Paris -- mmm, bread. And cheese! And French coffee! (heads to kitchen for snack). Okay, maybe I need it even more than I thought.

So I found a free online stopwatch. You can put it in your Google bar,** set the timer, and write until the alarm goes off. If you finish what you're writing, be like Trollope: turn the page and start something new. No excuses, no stopping, no internet.

No, seriously. Try it. And if even the stopwatch isn't enough for you, you can always try Dr. Wicked...

* Do not follow that link. For real, it will take over your life. It will leave you as jittery as if you'd drunk all that coffee yourself and it's not even wordily hip like Text Twist. Don't say you weren't warned.
** Does that sound to anyone else like the name of a strip club?


Colorado Writer said...

Oh yes, I'm ready to get back to the daily grind.

Darn it for sick kids, Facebook, and internet games.

Diane T said...

Trollope, eh? I find it hard to take writing advice from a guy whose name sounds like he's insulting me, but he was prolific. And more published than I am.

I believe I read Barchester Towers in college, but either it was unremarkable or I skimmed through it, because the summary on Wiki rings no bells for me.

If you get too tired writing straight from 5:30 am to 8:30 am (gah!), I'll join you at the Google Bar for some caffeinated beverages.

Tina Lee said...

I love this post.

Nora MacFarlane said...

Holy Crow! I just checked out Dr. Wicked. If I used that (kamikaze mode) I'd never finish a manuscript! The timer might work. However, I'm so easily distracted I'd probably end up watching the seconds tick by... Off to play a game. Then I'll pull out my WIP... :P

beth said...

Ugh...5:30?! That is some serious discipline!! Actually, I usually do wake up at 5:30...but I'm not capable of a creative thought until around noon, after food and much caffeine.

Jacqui said...

Oops. Beth & Diane, I mislead you. I'm doing the timed writing session thing, but NOT at 5:30-8:30am. Thor has NOT agreed, he points out, to awaken with the children and get everyone dressed and fed and off to school while I pretend to be Trollope.

Tina, thanks!

Nora, good point on watching the seconds. Mesmerizing.

CW, and blogging.

Sara said...

Hello, mind meld sister.

The routines blog inspired me too.

And my timer is so, so, sooooo cute. Surely that will help?

sruble said...

Exactly. Was going to say similar on my blog, but not so clever. Will go work instead. Thanks :)

C.R. Evers said...

Oh wow! Cool stopwatch! And Wow! I admire anyone who can get up at 5:30 to do anything. I've tried to be a morning person several times in my life, but I've had to come to terms. It just ain't happenin'. But I do think discipline can come in other forms. And there's nothing wrong with facebook, e-mail and blogging . . . right? I mean, I consider those to be like warm ups to a writer like stretching is to an athlete. ;0)


Angela said...

Sure, sure...NOW I see the footnote! GAH!!! *runs to play game again*

I loaded up the stopwatch--it sounds like a great idea to keep me on track. Thanks!

Ello said...

You know they said the Kite Runner author did that also. Writing every morning at the crack of dawn before going to work as a doctor. Sheesh. I need some discipline!

Jodi said...

I'm not a writer, at all - I leave that up to Jim. I may need to use the stopwatch so I don't use all my "housekeeping time" on Facebook. Then maybe I can keep a clean house so Jim can write. (His "office" is also the laundry room, or our bedroom, depending on which is neater.) Great post. Also, I'm not sure how many times The New Girl ... and Me was read over Christmas break, but Trevor has it memorized. Emma said she didn't read the green words because she couldn't sound them out ... it was the bilingual Cheerios version. :)

Jacqui said...

Sara, your timer IS so cute. I would play with it a lot.

Angela, I am SO SORRY to have doomed you!

Ello, amazing.

sruble & CR, get to work :)