The discipline of writing


Tina Dubinsky

Writing just like fitness, learning a musical instrument or dancing, requires discipline.

The best advice a person who wants to write a book can receive is to write regularly. Not participating in the act of writing stops many people who want to write a book from producing an end result.

If you want to publish your writing, you need to approach it just as you would any career in which you want to find success.

Tip # 1 - Writing is a discipline


Like any discipline writing requires

  • repetitive practice
  • a systematic process
  • a willingness to follow rules
  • the ability to achieve control
  • accountability

Discipline and repetitive practice

Writing is a skill and like every skill, to improve you need to practice.

You can be talented at storytelling but unless you practice regularly, your stories may never get read.

You can go to school and study creative writing, but unless you sit down and practice writing, your book will remain an idea.

Repetitive practice means writing

You could write a journal, but as Joe Bunting points out in his helpful article ‘The Best Way to Become a Writer‘, you won’t become a writer by writing words no one else will read. Joe suggests writing short pieces of no more than 250 words which you can submit to literary magazines for publication.

Online article writing is one area where a writer can produce an income by writing. Sites like HubPages, allow a writer to produce an income through affiliate advertising.

Blogging also provides an avenue for writers to practise their discipline with an audience. There are many writers like Joanna Goddard who are career bloggers.

Blogging can help develop discipline
Blogging can help a writer develop discipline. It is not a quick or easy method of making instant money online.

Discipline and a systematic process

Creating a systematic process for your writing whether it is for a novel, online articles or completing a research paper for your PhD, can make you into a better writer.

Producing a fictional story consists of

  1. the idea
  2. planning
  3. writing the first draft
  4. revision (includes rewriting)
  5. publishing

Each of the above steps will contain more sub steps. You may end up revising your novel more than once before approving the final copy.


The process of routine is also very important for a writer. Maintaining a routine where you are writing every day will keep you focused on your goals.

My routine involves a short, brisk walk to clear the mind and the preparation of a nice warm cup of coffee to keep me company.

Most writers develop their own, often guarded, processes for writing the first draft.


Get into a routine
Going for a walk before you start a long writing session can help you clear your mind. Some writers also use music or meditation.

Discipline and a willingness to follow rules

No matter which language you write in, it will have rules that you need to follow.

When writing your first draft you may not want to worry too much about the rules. Ignoring the rules completely can make the task of revision much more difficult. Find a balance.

Basic rules you need to adhere to include

  • grammar
  • spelling
  • formatting

Different genres and styles have guidelines. Traditional publishers will also have their own set of rules you may need to follow.

Refer to a list of writing tips at regular intervals to refresh your mind.


Discipline and the ability to achieve control

The ability to achieve control focuses on your environment; the people around you, your present circumstances and whether you have the tools to write.

Tools may include:

  • pen
  • paper
  • computer
  • thesaurus
  • dictionary
  • research
  • education

Taking control of your environment can play a huge part in your discipline.

If you have priorities that supersede your writing, such as spending time with your family. You need to designate regular intervals of time where you can focus on your writing without interruption.

Set some up some boundaries with your family so you can have time to write.
Locking up your family is not an option. You may need to establish some boundaries by closing the door to your room, or by finding somewhere else to write.

Discipline and accountability

Everyone is different. Some people are great at keeping themselves accountable. Others need help from an outside source.

Daily minimum word count

Set yourself a daily minimum word count. Some people aim for five hundred words, others prefer a few thousand.

If you are not reaching your minimum word count, then revise it down, or review what you need to do to achieve control.

If you consistently over achieve, that’s great.

Make sure your minimum word count is not too low so that it fosters complacency.

Help on the outside

  • Join a writing group on Facebook or google.
  • Get a writing partner.
  • Seek help from a friend or family member to help keep you motivated.
  • Join in NANOWRIMO to help get you into your groove.


National Novel Writing Month occurs in November every year. Last year there were 518 ,538 participants who signed up to write a minimum of 50,000 words in a month.


Not only is writing a discipline, it requires discipline for  writers to successful shape their stories from a personal hobby and into a long-term career.

If you are a writer who desires to become a published author, the best thing you can do right now is to write.  So grab that pen and paper, or open that document in your word processor and start writing.

Set aside time every day to practice, work towards a specified work count and get yourself into the routine of writing.

Improving your discipline will come with routine and practice.


Comments, thoughts?