8 (More) Ways to Discipline Yourself to Write Every Single Day – Even When You’re Not in the Mood

Probably the most frequently asked question I get about writing and creativity is the issue of discipline.

How do you become disciplined? How do you STAY disciplined?

Since it comes up so often, I’ve be addressing this topic in a variety of posts lately.

For now, this should get you started:

1. Shift your attitude toward writing. Your discipline will begin to kick in the moment you embrace the following truism: Writing is the basis of all wealth. Please go back and read that last sentence again.

It’s the single most important idea every write needs to embrace. It’s not an activity. It’s a practice. A way of life. A mode of creative transportation. What value do you place on writing?

2. Rearrange your definition of “writing.” Writing isn’t what you think. It’s a process I define as, “Sitting down, slicing open a vein and bleeding your truth all over the page.”

This approach changes the way you write because it preventing you from self-editing and writing “for” anyone or anything other than yourself. You just tell the truth. Simple, but not easy. What’s your definition of writing?

3. Pick your best medium. I write on the floor with colored note cards. One idea per card. I also spend a lot of time in my customized Content Management System, evaluating and stringing together old ideas from various categories.

Lastly, I make lists. Lots of lists. Best way to begin writing anything. I even wrote a list about how to write with lists. But that’s me. You, on the other hand, might be a flip chart person. Or a mindmapper. Or a write-by-hand kind of girl. Awesome.

Whatever works for your creative style – do it. The secret is to find your medium and go with it. Writing is writing, no matter what kind of pen you’re using – as long as the ink is blood. When you write, what does that look like?

4. Eradicate your belief in Writer’s Block. It doesn’t exist. Writing is an extension of thinking. You don’t have Writer’s Block; you have Thinker’s Block. Stop blaming your lack of creativity and productivity on some evil, external force of resistance over which you have zero control.

It’s you. It’s always you. The problem is you’re not reading enough. You’re not listening enough. You’re not asking enough questions. You’re not taking daily time to think. You’re not maintaining constant curiosity. You’re not viewing the world through her unique lens.

Suggestion: Create a constant stream of ideas and collect them in an organized idea library. Perpetually hunt for insight. Your melon will be motivated from every possible angle. Are you a writer or a thinker?

5. Stop trying to “find” the time. Because you might not find it. After all, people always have time for what’s not important to them. Instead, you need to MAKE the time. I suggest you identify your best writing time, then make a pledge to be “due at the page” at the same time each day.

Even if it’s only fifteen minutes. Even if that means taking on an accountability partner that you call every morning at six just to say, “Hey Sandy, it’s Scott. Just wanted you to know that I’m sitting down to write for the next three hours. I’ll call you at nine.” What other creative professional could help you MAKE the time to write?

6. Avoid creative compartmentalization. I don’t expect you to write seven hours a day like I do. I am a freak of nature. An alien. A cyborg. Don’t you be like me. What I’d like you to consider instead is the concept of writing whenever and wherever you can, in addition to your normal schedule.

For example, I write every morning from four or five to nine or ten. That’s four or five hours. The remaining 180 minutes are accumulated throughout the day from lunches, conversations, random thoughts and small creative windows. The difference is, I write everything down. Everything.

Even if it’s just a random thought I had after yoga class. I write it down. And that’s writing. That contributes to that seven-hour practice. You can do the same as long as you remember, “Easy does it.” Ain’t not thing but a chicken wing. Stop making writing such a big deal. Relax. Are you over-compartmentalizing your writing practice?

7. Begin writing Morning Pages. This is the single greatest writing tool known to man. Sort of an expanded Bathtubbing ritual. Coined by my hero, Julia Cameron, here’s how they work: You sit down, first thing in the morning, and just PUKE … for three pages.

It’s a form of meditation. It’s a check-in with yourself. A psychological holding environment that becomes a gateway to your inner and higher selves, Cameron says. And these “gripe sessions” where you work out your grudges, become moments of free associate and celebration. You get out the shanks and bring forth the silver. I’ve been doing Morning Pages EVERY morning for several years now.

Here’s why they’re so effective: They awaken your intuition. They train your sensor and inner editor to stand aside. They get you current. They help you catch up on yourself and pinpoint precisely what you are feeling and thinking. How often are you partaking in stream-of-consciousness writing?

8. Remember the Circle of Write. At this point, you might think, “Scott, these suggestions are great, but I don’t really LIKE writing.” That’s cool. I still suggest you get started. And here’s why.

The more you write, the more you will like writing. The more you like writing, the more you will want to write. The more you want to write, the more thought, time and effort you will put into your writing. The more thought, time and effort you put into your writing, the better your writing will become. The better your writing becomes, the more confidence you will have. The more confidence you have, the more you will write and want to write.

And then the pattern repeats itself. Forever.

This is called “The Circle of Write.” Creativity guru Mihály Csíkszentmihályi refers to this type of process as a Feedback Loop of Mutual Causation and Reinforcement. This means, as he explains in Finding Flow, “If you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it. And if you are interested in something, you will focus on it.”

The effect becomes the cause. And the cause becomes the effect. It’s a circular, self-feeding process. Which means the key to writing is to addict yourself to it. Are you following the Circle of Write?

What awaits you in the refining fire of discipline?

For the list called, “49 Ways to become an Idea Powerhouse,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

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13 Daily Disciplines to Transform Write into Wealth

1. Be silently attentive. You need to be the kindergartner during story time that doesn’t fidget, play or pick his nose. You need to be the well-behaved dog with a tilted head, a wagging tail and a look of OH BOY! OH BOY!” awaiting the next command from his owner.

When you create, you sit there with your hands folded in your lap, waiting for instruction and inspiration. Every single day. A quiet, alert witness, attending to the stream of creative thought that floods your veins. Are you growing creative ears?

2. Chase. Pursue words and ideas that haunt you and that you don’t understand. Amplify your deepest curiosities. Then, when you FINALLY catch up with them, you will “get” what they’re supposed to mean. But only if you keep running. What ideas are you chasing?

3. Chronological Creativity. Once you pluck the idea, you plant it like a seed. Then, by filing it away into your brain and (hopefully) on paper, it’s available for harvesting when the time is right.

Then, you come back to it periodically, adding a word or two, subtracting a phrase or three, here and there. Spicing it up. Giving it some sunlight. Watering it with the creative nutrients it needs to eventually blossom. Commencing artistic photosynthesis. Are you a creative farmer?

4. Concentrate white capturing. After observation, you follow the same process with capturing. You write ONE thing. Some line. Or sentence. Or phrase. Or truth. And then you just STARE. Until you see something. Until some image, some related idea comes forth.

Like one of those Magic Eye posters that starts out looking like a bunch of triangles, but eventually looks like a schooner. Are you willing to stare into a vortex of nothingness for fifteen minutes until a speck of creative gold dust finally surfaces?

5. Creativity is cooking. Simmering. Mixing. You mold knead, rework and edit, walking away periodically to your ideas simmer. And each time you do so, you return with a fresh perspective. You also notice that your ideas have expanded. Like a pizza crust in which the yeast has risen, your thoughts have organically grown independently of you.

So, now it’s time to come back and attend to them. Remember: Writing is a coalescence of related fragments. Concocting a potion. Crafting a mosaic of words, phrases and sentences. What are you cooking up?

6. Emotional Transference. You’re writing, and before you know it, as one emotion comes out, ALL your emotions come out. Related or not. Anger hitches a ride with jealousy. Sadness mooches on the coattails of fear. Annoyance hangs on to the bumper of apathy. One bleeds into another.

And I say: The more the better. Just let ‘em out or else they’ll find a home somewhere in your body. Ouch. What unexpected emotion does your writing release?

7. Enter the flow and disappear. You’re so deep, so engrossed, that you lose track of time. You forget things, like lunch. Or that you had a meeting with your friend Karen. Or that you spilled your mug of chamomile tea all over your leg like three hours ago. Or that you have a sprained ankle. (Which ankle was it again?)

It’s just like when you’ve been jamming along to a Black Keys song for sixteen minutes and eventually look down at your strings only to realize they’re caked with blood. As Marvin Bell says, “You’re in flow when you don’t know you’re in pain.” So, enhance the trance. The goal is to forget yourself, yet be aware OF yourself. Psychologically stopping the movement of time. When was the last time you got lost?

8. Just react. Follow your curiosity. Scratch what itches. Respond to your passion by writing in the direction of what shakes you. Allow your essence to lead you and then render the contours of your inner landscape. What are you reacting to?

9. Make multiple impressions. Start by capturing. Get your initial impression of an idea down on paper. Even if it sucks, even if it doesn’t make sense, even if there are holes in its logic. Then, come back to it later and see how it’s different. It might be the idea that’s different; it might be YOU that’s different; it might be the world that’s different.

Either way, when you make your second and third and fourth impressions, the idea grows. It gets richer and more legitimate. But only if you’re patient. How often are you returning TO and enhancing the complexity OF your ideas?

10. Open a vein. Sit down at the page, grab a razor, and cut that beeyoch open. Then, let it bleed onto the page until there is nothing left. Empty yourself of yourself. Let go of your writing. Let it unfold. Release the music that is within you. Crack your inner world open and closely monitor that which oozes out.

Do so until every thought, every emotion and every idea has been liberated. Until you’re woozy and tired. Until you’re anemic and diabetic. Make your readers suspect that Dracula stopped by your office to chomp a hunk out of your neck. That’s how much blood we’re talking about. Do you write with your pen dipped in your own blood?

11. Stillness works. When you hold yourself in a state of alertness, the world quiets down. Your breathing stabilizes. You blood pressure decreases. Then, within that calmness, beauty and truth begin to appear. And eventually, you don’t just start to HEAR things; you start to FEEL things.

These valuable nudges from your unconscious that tug at your coat tails. Pssst! Over here! They say. And as you turn your head, you being to channel that overflowing energy into the rivulets that feed into your personal creative ocean. In breath: Experiences. Out breath: Art. How’s YOUR breathing?

12. Unconscious integration. Defined by yours truly as, “When the natural geometry of your writing self-organizes and distributes without cognitive effort.” You let your mind unconsciously churn away. Laying out all these scraps, these ideas and these modules, as pieces to a jigsaw puzzle, but NOT knowing what the final picture looks like on the front of the box.

Eventually, if your mind has been properly trained and you TRUST it, every once in a while, something will click. Some amazing idea will just spring into your mind. It will only seem to be instantaneous, when in reality it’s taken days, weeks, months, maybe even YEARS of unconscious integration to come together. What puzzle are you not aware you’re putting together?

13. Write THROUGH things. Just like in yoga when you breathe THROUGH a difficult posture, in life you WRITE through a difficult situation. You catalyze your discontent. You slug it out.

You “get behind the mule in the morning and plow,” as Tom Waits sings on his killer record, Mule Variations. You trudge through even your darkest days using your pen as your pickaxe, knowing that eventually, you’ll come out on the other side. Big time. Andy Dufresne style. What gifts and hidden assets lie hidden in your seeming impediments?

How are you transforming write into wealth?

For the list called, “26 Ways to Out BRAND Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Nobody seeing YOUR name anywhere?

Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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