“Motivation is temporary. It gets you started, but it fades. Discipline is forever.” -Friend of mine, kind of, it’s really more paraphrased.

Why did I miss today? Distractions. Good distractions. Such great distractions that I’m going to distract you with them.

I wrote my first children’s book. The title is The Rise of Phulthgemogn. I’m searching for an illustrator, and I’m aware it needs some cleaning up. This ended up happening as I played Sims 4 and basically they implied writing children’s books is easy. I disagree with that notion. It’s difficult to find the right words for the age group, make it so there are some words they must reach for, while having enough hints they can comprehend it, and having content which is appropriate. I’ve been questioned on whether or not Phulthgemogn is age appropriate.

I watched two episodes of Psych. Which really means I cleaned my apartment for an hour and a half. It’s a disaster. I decided to remove all my books from my bookshelves, and did not realize just how many books I had. Oops.

I edited for about two hours last night. I completed about fifteen pages. I’m not sure how others edit, but it’s usually three pages every hour. I was on fire.

Then to bed early to wake up early and go for a swim.

Was I motivated to do these things? No. There is absolutely nothing motivating me. There’s no girlfriend, wife, crush, child, children telling me, directly or indirectly, that I need to do these things. The closest thing to motivation I have is I’m fat, I’m easily exhausted, I’m becoming a collection of health issues I refuse to see a doctor for, and some day I want my nephew/godson to read what I wrote and go, “Uncle Paul, you’re the coolest person ever.” And fan girls. At cons. I mean, that’d be cool too. Along with enough money to buy an island. But I digress.

I went to a movie last week with a friend. We chatted, and I talked about motivation. He scoffed. He said the above quote. Sort of. It’s not verbatim, but the spirit’s there. He said there is no real motivation to go to the gym. It hits from time to time, but he’s there because he has to be there. He is there because discipline dictates he’s there.

Aside from this weekend, where I literally locked myself in the apartment from Friday afternoon until Monday morning to clean and play video games, I’ve been writing every day for two weeks. It was a habit I wanted to form, and I have. I did not form it through motivation. A couple days all I could muster was slugging out three pages of edits.

I went to the gym at 5:30am because of discipline. There is no motivation to do anything at 5:30am, when I can wake up at seven. No one is telling me to go. No one is telling me to edit.

What am I trying to tell you? A lot of advice for writing is find motivation, discover a muse, write when you feel like it. This is nonsense. Write all the time. If you take a break, take a day or two. The more you work on your craft, the more motivated you will be to keep working. The longer your break, the harder it will be to get back into it. So write. Write a lot. Do not stop, even if you have to work on a separate project.

I hope the honeyed fields of motivation can lead you to the iron forged barracks of discipline. Write well!

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10 thoughts on “Discipline vs Motivation

  1. I agree with you. It’s silly to write when you feel like it. I’ve watched countless interviews with writers who have all said that the key to writing is writing. They want it to be their career, so they devote 8 hours a day to writing. That’s what writers do, even when they don’t feel like it.

    1. So true! I enjoy the ones who comment on writer’s despair. Neil Gaiman was likely my favorite, where his editor commented, “Oh, you’re at that stage….”

  2. Paul, as a psychologist I often deal with that problem. I define discipline as: “Doing that which is right or necessary to accomplish what I want when I do not want to do it”.
    Since I have been Dx’ed Diabetic II for the past seven years, handling it with diet and exercise only, my exercise is discipline because I don’t want the symptoms. My diet is discipline as well, both of these are to keep my blood sugar down to normal levels.

    My point is that, for me, discipline requires good reasons, motivation may involve them but usually doesn’t.

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