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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Friday, July 18, 2008

Failing The Self-Discipline Test

On the whole, I consider myself a self-disciplined person. Oh sure, I struggle with the same things most folks do - keeping my commitment to go to the gym, staying on the diet, things like that. But mostly I maintain a strict and rigorous schedule on a daily basis. I have no choice, if I am to find ways to take care of household, health, spiritual matters, errands, dog, and oh yeah - writing - in between the long work hours each week. I've always struggled to balance those things.

But recently I've been put to a test of self-discipline and I am disappointed to say that I am failing miserably.

God has been opening writing doors for me this year. I am more elated about that then words could possibly say. I'm going to be sending my manuscript out in early October, thanks to one of those open doors.

So naturally, I had to lay out a timeline for myself to finish the rewrite and polish for the manuscript so that it will be ready by October. But instead of having 10 chapters re-written by now, I have only two. And summer, bloody hot as it is, is rapidly passing me by.

You see up to now, I've been free to pursue my novel writing at my own pace. No external deadlines but those which I imposed upon myself. But now I have made a commitment to send someone the manuscript.

Big difference.

Not only is it absolutely essential that I keep my word for integrity's sake, I feel that this is a "point of no return" test of my will and my ability to follow through. I've known many people in my life, both writers and non, who have frittered away their lives - they had big plans and dreams but for various reasons never acted on them - never chased those dreams. Now only these individuals can decide for themselves if letting their dreams go was a big deal or not - only they know if they have regrets.

But I do not want to live my life having regrets about taking wrong turns (or no turns) in my writing life. Sure, I can dink around with my writing and never finish a project, but it will be completely unsatisfactory to me. And I don't mean just as a source of extra income though that is certainly a goal.

But never following through - never finishing and marketing a novel would be devastating to me in a personal sense. Why would anybody write a novel except to push themselves to their limits? To see what they could do? I understand there is the faith element involved. God gave us the writing desire for a reason. But if you want to take on the monumental task of writing novels, it is because you are driven to push yourself - to see how far you can go - and grow. It is like pushing yourself day after day, training for a marathon.

And if I don't finish this novel rewrite on time, I have done the training, but never entered the race. I will have never pushed myself to see what I can really do. I find that thought unbearable.

But at the moment I am rebelling against the training.

I am not exhibiting the stuff self-employed persons are made of.

Self-discipline has flown the coop. There are a variety of reasons why - several recent stressors taking my focus away from my writing, the daily demands of my life. I think the devil is also trying to spoil my fun by throwing roadblocks in my way and causing me to fear the very thing I am striving to do. And I don't think it's coincidence at all that this week - my worst week yet for writing progress, I have spent less time in praise, worship and Bible study.

Do I really think I am going to accomplish this in my own strength? HA! No, I need to rely on the One who gave me this desire - but I also must act on what He gave me - an opportunity - an open door.

I can't reclaim wasted time or lost opportunities. But I can go forth in prayer and faith that the Lord will remove the stumbling blocks, drive away the fear and insecurity and lead me to a completed manuscript, on time, that I can be proud of.


sheriboeyink said...

It's amazing how the "issues" of life step in and pull you from what God wants you to be doing. It happens often to me as well. I find that when I'm far from God (not doing my daily readings, socializing with Christian friends, etc) I'm more easily pulled from the tasks that God wants me to be doing.
I'll be pulling for you to get to the start line and then to cross the finish line!
God Bless.

Patti Shene said...

Sounds like you and I are so much alike, Brenda! I promised a friend I would use her as a non-writing "reader" for my completed manuscript. Well, I never completed it and now she has passed away. Regret lies heavy on my heart, believe me!