Monday, September 24, 2012

Developing Self Discipline Part 2

Perhaps this should be titled 'Redirecting Self-Discipline'.
I think everyone has some level of discipline somewhere in their life, otherwise they would be getting speeding tickets every day, never go to work or have the sort of life that is a shamble of disconnected and self-indulgent chaos.
I am physically able to walk, but the consequences of taking those steps are dire. I use my self-discipline (and the memory of those consequences)  to keep my hiney in the chair and myself well.
I would say that there are a few types of motivation for applying self-discipline, carrots and sticks (and sometimes a combination). The 'stick' of the consequence of walking is combined with the 'carrot' of staying well to keep me on wheels. Also the fact that, should I choose to walk instead, all too soon I would be dependent on Oscar to do far too many things, not fair to him, and certainly not enjoyable for me.

The reward for making good health choices is obvious. Better health!
The reward for writing fiction is less clear cut. If I become skilled at writing fiction and complete a book the biggest reward may be the simple fact of accomplishing something I have wanted to try for decades. The satisfaction of having made the attempt may be my only reward. Until I try, I don't know whether or not I will be any good at it. If I suck at it there won't be any monetary reward. I don't fear the suck factor. I expected to, but thinking about it today, I fear not trying. If I end up being good at this, perhaps the next goal will be publication. In this new age of self-publishing that basically involves learning to use tools available on Amazon and Smashwords. But before that I dearly hope I can find someone who can edit for me (Lynx? You out there hon?)

The rewards for writing reviews are established. I have written more than 270 reviews thus far. My writing skills have improved, I get to express my opinions within an accepted framework (those who knew me as a teen are laughing as they read this) and perhaps best of all I am able to give back to authors as a group in some level of exchange for the joy reading has brought to me since I was four years old. Getting parts of my reviews quoted in upcoming books is also a thrill, as is anytime an author contacts me to thank me for my efforts. So why is it so blasted difficult for me to sit down and write reviews every day? A lack of self-discipline to some extent. Certainly there are days when my fibromyalgia or pain levels interfere, but that is not the case every day, and indeed, since moving to our new home I have more good days per month than happened in the old place. (yay!)

In the old place, I often used computer games and crafts (while watching TV) to keep myself distracted from the chaos that I could not clear without damaging myself. I was basically stuck in my recliner except for using  'the facilities', grabbing food and water from the kitchen, and going to and from the bedroom. Hellish when I look back on it. That was only a few months ago. I still enjoy playing computer games, but it is no longer necessary as a distraction.
I still enjoy crafting in front of the tv, but with the SSD having been awarded, I no longer need the income of designing (and thus making the pattern samples) in the same way as I used to.
This SHOULD mean it should be child's play to redirect that time into accomplishing goals like catching up with reviews and writing fiction. Cue the self-discipline.

I am lucky in that, although I have fewer useful (concentration) hours per day as I did before I got sick, those hours are mine to command without the needs of children or a job to interfere.
Those hours are usually the earliest in the day. After I have been up for about four or five hours my concentration starts to go kerflooey. I can still do housework and simple crafts but writing and editing (fiction, reviews or designs) becomes a matter of diminishing returns on the time spent.

When I think about it, I only need to apply that self-discipline during those four or five hours, devoting them to what I want most to accomplish. After that I have the rest of the day to do housework, craft, exercise, get outside for a bit or play computer games. On the worst days, I am fuzzy all the day long but on every normal-to-good day I should be able to get something (or even several things) substantial accomplished.
I think that is what I shall focus on. Working during the first part of the day and not allowing myself to do non-writing or 'play' activities until after I have worked toward my writing goal(s).

Something my mom taught me was to set a day upon which to start any life change, like when I quit smoking January 1st, 2001, for example. I also have learned not to start too many changes at the same time.
I began my journey toward better health eight days ago. I will begin the new writing regime on my 50th birthday, October 6th.
Until then, I will begin Wednesday by writing reviews first thing in the morning, every 'working' morning then switch to another brain-needy task like editing (or perhaps studying things like spinning or how to outline a story)
On the 6th, I will begin with working on fiction for the first hour. If it is going well, I will expand that to two hours, if not I can switch to reviews during the second hour. The third hour I can devote to editing designs, and learning followed by exercise.
I have a new electric spinning wheel on it's way to me which will require some intensive study until I get the hang of it.  I also have some knitting and crochet books filled with things I want to learn, as well as the Master Knitters program to work on.
I think the studying part of the day will make a good transition to the relaxed part of the day.
At any rate, I will try out this schedule without the fiction writing for the next week and a half, then plunge into my dream, writing fiction, on October 6th.
After trying it out for a month or so, it may need adjustment, we'll see!

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