It’s New Year’s Day!…all year round.

I wanted to say a little something about discipline because people have asked me what my writing schedule is like. I know some writers work every day at the same time of day. Joyce Carol Oates writes from 8:00 to 1:00 every morning, and Somerset Maugham wrote for four hours after he woke up. I have always aspired to be one of those writers.

The truth is that every other week is like New Year’s Day for me. I make resolutions. I vow that I am going to change. I pledge myself to writing a thousand…nay, FIVE-THOUSAND words a day. I tell my husband and my family that the first four hours of my day are dedicated to writing so please don’t bother me when I’m in my office.

Inevitably, I do really well for about the first week. And then life starts interrupting and sneaking in during the second week. By the third week my writing schedule has deteriorated into chaos and I’m making new vows and by Monday of the fourth week.

I used to beat myself up about how I could never keep a strict writing schedule, but I’ve come to realize that this is just part of my creative cycle.

“As for discipline – it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). ” —Elizabeth Gilbert

I keep coming back to writing after all those disappointments because I’ll get the spark of an idea that I really want to share. I try not to see my writing time as some awful task I need to accomplish, but as something I love…something I can’t wait to do and it’s only a matter of arranging the rest of my life so I can do it.

About E.S.O. Martin

E.S.O. Martin is a writer, a California native, and a graduate of SF State's Creative Writing MFA program.
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