I don’t even like the word. It reminds me of boarding school, or unspeakable things done in grubby rooms, or, alternatively, yogi masters dressed in pristine white seated in uncomfortable positions. It is not appealing.
However, the word has been on my mind. Discipline – call it structure or practice, if those words convey a gentler, tea-drinking calm, is what every artist needs.
I really feel as though my practice has suffered over the past couple of years. I’ve had a scatter-gun approach to making time. It happens – no writer I know lives on writing alone. Everyone I know has at least one, if not more, income streams to support their writing. I have had up to five other ‘jobs’ vying for my attention over the past few years. I’ve taught different things at three different venues, I’m in a writing and editing services partnership and I have some new and emerging writers I mentor. Add a life to that and you quickly run out of writing time. I’m a wife, a mother of adult children, a daughter of an ageing mother, and I want to keep up my own friendships. I’m also a knitter, sewer and spinner – I enjoy all these things and I’m loathe to give any one up.
Some days I long for an ordinary job – one that just asks you to clock on at a certain time and clock off, without too much thought involved in the hours in between. A set lunch time, tea-breaks at appropriate intervals. Home on a regular train….
It’s a stupid yearning because I’d hate it. I’m too used to living variously – teaching across a number of subjects, reading unpublished manuscripts in different genres and forms from a diversity of writers and setting my own work agenda.
However, I’ve been down on myself recently for not having a better writing practice. It’s been good to get back to a regular writing group, setting weekly goals and trying to live up to them. My next step – and my next goal, is to write regularly. I’m not saying I have to write every single day of the week, although that would, of course, be ideal. But I’m planning to write every week day – on my own work. I do write every day – but some of that is writing up teaching notes, for example, or manuscript appraisals. 2018 is the year I regroup my writing practice and make it a priority. Even if I only manage an hour some days. I’ll be there in my pristine white robes, drinking tea the colour of brakish mountain streams and getting into Flow. Okay – I’ll aim at the flow, but quite possibly be in my pyjamas drinking too much coffee. Let’s be realistic – it’s practice. Let’s not call it discipline – not yet, anyway!