Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Write Foot Forward: Training and Discipline

The truth about publishing is that it’s a long, hard road. It’s not likely that you, or any writer you know, became an overnight success. Writing, editing for structure, editing for content, editing for style, creating the actual book – it all takes time. Even if you self publish you know you are supposed to do all of these steps anyway, right? So that takes time. Maybe less, but still, you get the point.

It’s a long hard road. And to get to the finish line of this race, or any other, you need discipline and training.

I’m a runner and I slow. I’m overweight and I’m not particularly athletically inclined. If other runners are thoroughbred race horses I’m a Clydesdale (we typically have way better hair than race horses, anyway).

Regardless of age, shape, and size, I ran a marathon, a full marathon (All 26.2 grueling, wonderful miles *raises fist in victory*). Here's a happy pic from the middle of my first marathon:

I was able to accomplish that goal, one that less than 1% of the worlds’ population has accomplished, mind you, because I trained for it and I learned to discipline myself.

Writing is much the same. Training and discipline are a must. And luckily, for both running and writing, training and discipline can be learned.


You can’t write 60 thousand words in one sitting. You can’t. But you can teach yourself how to produce more and more words each time your write.

Just like runners, who typically pick mileage goals and slowly increase their miles over a period of time until they are fit enough to conquer the race distance, a writer can set daily/weakly/monthly word count goals.

Here’s a great post with a plan that can help you finish the book: Chuck Wendig: How to push past the BS and write that novel

I suggest picking monthly word count goals and dividing those down to daily word count goals. Remember, just like a runner, you need to allow yourself rest time and flexibility.

If your goal is to write a novel in a month, maybe you should reconsider. Unless you can put the entirety of the rest of your life on hold for that month, you are going to struggle – a lot.

Remember, when setting goals they should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard – Stacy Jones

Here’s a great post on maximizing your word count: Chuck Wendig: How to maximize your word count


Is all about practice. You want to write 800 words a day? Practice. Get as close as you can as often as you can. Repeat. Aim to make writing a daily part of your life – but remain flexible. A lot of writers have publicly discussed how they cannot write every day – their creative juices run dry. Don’t worry. That doesn’t make you any less of a writer. The truth is, you’ll never know if you can write every single day unless you try. So go for it.

There will be a lot of misses. Don’t give up. You can’t give up. You must stay the course in the face of hardship because this wont come easily. Here’s a post from Chuck Wendig about how the process takes as long as it takes. Chuck Wendig: It takes the time it takes (aka hang in there, it’s a long ride)

You can’t control an Agent or Editor. You can’t control whether or not you get a huge book deal. All you can control is you. You. That’s it. You can control how you spend your energy (positively, pushing forward to write another book, goddamnit – or negatively, pouting about how you deserved to get soemthing and someone else didn’t). Remember, this is a business first and foremost, and you aren’t owed anything. Chuck Wendig: 25 Hard Truths About Publishing

The only thing that will get you somewhere in this business is work. Put in the work. Keep the course. Your training and discipline will pay off only if you are willing to do the work.

Heck, you wouldn’t throw your car away because you got a flat tire? Why abandon your dream of publishing because you got a rejection?

In the words of the wise Yoda:


  1. Agree w/everything you said! And Yoda... =) My prob is I've been working on this novel for over three years, and I'm almooost completely done- unfortunately my brain is really done w/this world. But I plug away a little each night, and I'm so very very close to saying there's nothing more I can do to it. Thank God!

  2. "You can’t control whether or not you get a huge book deal. All you can control is you." This was the most important piece of your blog post. It's true not just for writers but for anyone trying to climb a steep hill to achieve a great prize. Thanks for the great suggestions. Regards, Joe


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