“Discipline is a choice. It’s simply consistently choosing the hard right over the easy wrong.” Roy Vaden
“Most decisions in your everyday life will not be life-or-death ones. The challenge for many of us today is that we have all sorts of options, most of them designed to make things easier at every turn. Devices to make life more convenient, offers that allow us to renege on personal commitments, pills to help us stay awake, pills to put us to sleep, ‘workouts’ here you hold a shaking piece of metal – shortcuts galore. Spartans don’t look for shortcuts; we take the harder route because that is the path that offers the greatest reward. We delay our gratification, even if that gratification holds no guarantee.”
From 366 Tips, Recipes, and Workouts for Living Spartan
Right now. some of the seemingly simplest decisions we’re making in our daily life may have the biggest consequences – sheltering at home, wearing masks. And yet there’s so much truth here – so much that applies to the writing life. Let’s unpack it a bit:
We like “making things easier” on ourselves – We’d like to think that writing is 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration, and not the other way around. We’d like to believe that this is how great writing gets done – that it flows like a river. Sometimes, when we’re lucky, this happens. But much of the time, we’re slipping on stones and falling in. We get wet, we bruise our knees or our egos, we feel like we’ll never get across, and wish we had a magic pen or a computer – one that would make it all easier.
We have “shortcuts galore” – There are so many easy fixes we can make in our writing. We can decide not to search out a better, more evocative word in that sentence we wrote yesterday – the one that seems a little clunky and could be better. We can decide not to rethink that opening paragraph in a chapter – the one where the order of what happens isn’t quite right. We can decide to let that story we were working on languish because we can’t figure out the right ending. It’s all too hard. It demands to much.
We’re tempted to “renege on personal commitments” – When we hit a rough patch in our writing, or get rejected yet again, it’s so much easier – and so tempting! — to throw up our hands and retreat. To defeat ourselves by giving up, than to pick ourselves up and forge on. Sometimes we make promises to ourselves – personal commitments – about how many ours we’ll put into our writing or how many pages we’ll write a day – and then, when the going gets tough, we’re oh, so tempted! to throw in the towel, to let that commitment slide and put it off for another day when we’re feeling better or stronger.
Ad yet, we all know in our heart of hearts that it is the “harder route that offers the greatest reward.” So let’s “Spartan Up!” Let’s choose the “hard right” over the “easy wrong” today. Write on!
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