Discipline is a learned tool.
It’s a useful ability to have in management, and has stood me in excellent stead throughout my career. In my first book, Lifeunpacked, I recount an exercise in mental discipline that serves to quieten your mind, teaching self-observation and providing a doorway to meditation. Close your eyes and count to 10, seeing each number in your imagination. Then count down from 10 to 1. Each time a thought interrupts, observe the thought – then start again at 1. Practice this daily. Not only does the exercise give your brain space to focus on something other than work, it also brings its own special clarity. I consider mental discipline and resilience as one of my trademarks, as a result of such exercises.
When I started writing, it transpired that the best time for me to write was early in the mornings after my meditation and before breakfast. This gave me a limited focus period, allowing me the rest of the day for other activities.
I gave myself a very manageable number of words to complete every day – just 250 words.
If you think that is very little, try writing the perfect paragraph or two, saying exactly what you want to say in 250 words. You must keep the story moving, and you must get your point across; I aimed to achieve a new point every day. From the top of the page to the end of this paragraph is 250 words – about half a page.
I found that writing straight after my morning meditation was effective because it was as if the messages from Spirit would just flow onto the page. Perhaps it was because my mind was clearer at that time than at any other time, and the issues of the day had not had time to cloud my consciousness yet.
Well, if you do the math, you will understand that pretty soon a good number of quality words start to add up and in a week you have 1750 words and in a month, you have 7000. By the time you reach four months you have 28000 – and that is your book. People today generally don’t like to read books that are much longer than that. We are all very busy just doing life, and time really does seem to speed up and run away with us if we let it. Maintaining discipline in our personal lives really does help to clear the clutter. When we are conscious and careful, we create space for all the many activities and commitments we need to fit into our time. And we empower ourselves to say: “No thank you” when necessary because we are clear that we have reached our capacity.
This year of 2018 is my third year of writing a daily inspirational post on my Facebook page, Lifeunpacked. At the end of this year, I will publish the third book – possibly the last one – in my Daily Inspirations from the Heart series.
Becoming an author was not something I consciously planned or thought of doing with my retirement, yet it is a role I thoroughly enjoy. Making sense of my own life could help someone else to make sense of theirs, and sharing the tools I have gathered along the way makes me feel that I am contributing to a body of knowledge that is useful to others.
Finally, I do believe that anyone can be an author. What it takes, of course, is just this: Firstly, clarity about the message you want to deliver or the story you want to tell. And secondly: commitment, which shows up as your daily discipline, your perseverance and your continued practice.
And then this happens: