Around the new year there are whispers of words. People grabbing a hold of a word and people waiting for one to settle over them. I fall into the latter category of waiting expectantly for the word to find me. I thought I heard my word in January, but then I wrote it off as a touch too boring. The word was something I had consciously moved away from, and the thought of inviting it back into my life seemed unappealing. And yet now a few months into the year I’m realizing that this word is exactly what I need even if it isn’t what I want.
Discipline, my dear old friend, I’m here to invite you back.
I used to wield discipline more like a weapon against myself than a tool. I would forget to text. Forget to eat. Drink an entire pot of coffee. All to keep working. I got a lot done and I did it well, but honestly, it didn’t feel good. There wasn’t any balance to my system, and I paid for that mentally and emotionally.
I made an unspoken promise that I wouldn’t drive myself into the ground anymore. With a couple semesters of grad school down and three more to go I can say that I’ve kept this promise. But maybe a little too well. It would be a lie to say that I don’t have any free time, I do. And for awhile I was devoting a tad too much of this free time to Netflix, and so I consciously chose to switch to books, which was at first restorative. Then I remembered that I’ve never really known what it means to pace yourself, and frankly, I go at book series like it’s fricken Sparta up in here. Because we all know reading is actually a competition.
Meanwhile projects that I both love and kind of terrify me (aka all important things ever) sat collecting dust again. I’d pick up where I left off on my unfinished manuscript only to leave it sit for another month. I’d work out, but never really push myself or hold myself accountable to progressing. One, two days a week was good enough right? And what the hell is cardio anyway, pretty sure you don’t need that. And as much as I love my site and Coffee Days & Whiskey Nights my heart was only half in it lately. I stopped pursuing copy clients as well because basically I didn’t feel like it. So much apathy in such a small body. Yeesh.
How do I dig up some discipline? How do I realistically add book writing, blog/CDWN writing, copy, and exercise into my life? I mean’s there’s nike’s old stand by of course, and sometimes you really do just have to do it, but I feel like there has to be a better way to go about this.
Maybe that initial leap is all about the just do it. But then you get a taste. A reminder. A reminder of why this matters to you. I went for a run today, and basically felt like my throat was going to close in on itself. It was magical. No, actually I texted like three people telling them I thought I was about to die, but once I could breathe again, I could feel it. I remembered how amazing it is to feel strong. That strength gives you confidence. And it made me want to keep going.
I opened up my manuscript and felt awkward trying to find the character’s rhythm since it’d been so long, and I thought about ditching this project for the new idea that’s been simmering for weeks now. But then I found the character’s voice again, and I realized how that story was going to end, and you know what? It was a fucking thrill. Because I love writing fiction. My mind is quite literally constantly narrating the world around me, and that is why I know I can find the discipline.
A stranger emails me about Coffee Days & Whiskey Nights. The message catches me off guard like it always does, and I’m floored at how connections and communities are silently tied together through words we throw out into the internet. So I write the next week’s message.
It’s so easy to lose sight of all of that though. The end game. The way it makes you feel. And that’s why I really am going to breathe some life into whatever discipline I have left. It’s going to look like a calendar, friends who ask if I’ve been writing, reminders of what I’m hoping for, but also of how much I love the process.
Because discipline, in a nutshell, is all about learning to love the process. So that’s where you’ll find me, in the middle of it, sometimes loving it and sometimes hoping that tomorrow I’ll love it a little more.