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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Discipline

It kind of came to me as I stepped out of the shower and stepped onto my bathroom scale.

That used to be a ritual I had before I went anywhere. My day would begin (or end, considering I work nights) with me getting home from the gym, showering, and taking a step on the scale, being proud that a workout ended in a slowly but surely shrinking number.  This ghost of my routine kicked in at the end of its cycle and I stepped on the scale without doing all the previous stuff, and the number I saw reminded me of it.

I haven't been to the gym -- not consistently, anyway -- in quite a while.

People are slaves to routine, followers of habit.  They do what they do with repetition, as the repetition is comfortable.  It's why bad habits are so hard to break; they become hardwired into our daily lives until our bodies and minds crave it.  Creative types -- artists and writers for instance -- are even more susceptible to habits, both good and bad, as they drive how and what we create.  I thought about that as well as I dried off and sucked in my gut as I looked in the mirror.  I've lost all my good habits.

I haven't written -- not consistently, anyway -- in quite a while.

We all have our reasons for this, of course, and some of them are even valid.  Good habits, for instance, are invariably the ones that are more difficult and more of an investment in time, and sometimes changing life situations -- good and/or bad -- make it tough to keep good habits.  Or sometimes we get lazy, as bad habits are easier, more instantly gratifying, and creep in when we least expect it.  Either way, whatever the reasons or excuses, the problem comes down to one thing: discipline.

My life situation has changed a bit.  I find myself less willing to engage in the high-energy, cardio-intensive routine of early-morning basketball two to three days a week, and more willing to spend that time in bed.  I end up talking myself out of my workouts as I drag my feet to get to the gym.  I'm completely unwilling to go for a run in the midst of the recent (and absolutely, insanely bitter) cold snap.  I find myself writing less, and I give myself reasons like "Gotta promote the novel," or "Don't have time right now.". Or, if I'm being truthful, the reasons are "I don't feel like it," or "I'm not in the headspace to produce anything good."

Damn that.  No more excuses.  Life is passing us by as we fill the days with stuff we should have done and reasons why we didn't do them.  Our bad habits are killing us.  My bad habits are killing me.  Not with any disease or anything, but with malaise and missed opportunity.  The game is not called because of cold.  We -- I -- just have to find the find the discipline, to create the good habits, that restores the natural order of things.

And with that, I reveal the number I saw. 271.

I say this a lot, but now I'm saying it publicly over the internet, which will hold me accountable.  I will reduce that number by 30 in the coming months.  It's going to take planning, hard work, and discipline.

The other thing, the writing?  Well, something must be done about that too.  At the beginning of the year, I set forth an unreachable goal: to write a million words of fiction.  I know the goal is insanely difficult, but I set it with the idea that if I try and don't make it, I'll stilt have done an unbelievable amount of work.  So far, my word count isn't all that impressive.  I'm going to take a NaNoWriMo-style approach and try to generate 1200 words a day of fiction.  Yeah, I'll be well short of my million-word mandate, but the point wasn't a million words, the point was forging the discipline to transition into a writing career.

And I trust the internet to hold me accountable.

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