Discipline and the Writing Life

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment but I had no real health issue. Last August, we moved and I needed to connect with a family practice doctor. During the time with the doctor, I was going over my recent changes in my health. Last year, I dropped about 35 pounds and I’ve managed to keep that weight off for an entire year.  My new doctor said only 6% of people manage to maintain this type of weight loss after a year.  I’ve made a major lifestyle shift and with discipline, I’m sticking with that determination. Why? I know firsthand that discipline is a large part of the writer and editor life.

It’s true as writers and editors we sit a great deal. I’ve been working hard to find the right balance. It’s pretty easy for me to get engrossed in my computer and writing work so I don’t get up and stretch or move around on a regular basis. I find if I do take the effort to move a bit, it helps my productivity.

Over the last year, I’ve been learning about balance in the physical side of writing. I’ve made a greater
commitment to exercise. I’ve been regularly getting on my treadmill at least 30 minutes a day and often
closer to 45 to 50 minutes. On my treadmill, I’m watching the daily news (something I often did sitting down on the couch). Now I find exercise helps reduce my stress level. In addition, I’ve been learning about diet. In my younger days, I was able to eat anything–donuts, candy, you name it–and control my weight through workouts. That’s not the case any longer. I have to be more balanced with diet and exercise. For me, it’s been watching carbs (more of a South Beach Diet approach). The results shrank my waist size from a 42 pants back into a 36 size and dropping about 35 pounds. Keeping this weight off for over a year on this type of program has not been easy or simple–but it has been concerted and intentional. It’s how I’m managing this physical side of the writing life.

Some people wonder how I managed to write such a large volume of material over the years. And these new writers that I meet at conferences wonder if they will ever measure up. I tell them absolutely.  While I attended a top journalism school in college and worked hard, I never made an A in my major. Now years later I’ve published more books than many (if not all) of my classmates. My journey has not been without problems, stress and many issues to work through along the way. Do I have it all together? Hardly. I’m still a work in progress and learning constantly about this business.

As writers and editors, we walk to the beat of a different drummer. Discipline pours through many different aspects of the writing life.

One Response to “Discipline and the Writing Life”

  1. Katy Says:

    Major kudos on the weightloss and exercise, Terry! I, too, am in the happy 6%. Next week is my 5-year anniversary of a controlled-carb lifestyle. I am maintaining a 50-lb loss! It can be done–and for the long-term–but discipline (beginning with vigilence) remain the order of the day.

    My transformation began in November of 1999 when I was completely surprised to wake up after brain surgery and find that I was not in heaven. (My doctor’s crazy holiday sweater brought me down to earth fast!) I decided that if God had allowed me to live, I owed it to Him to get my act together. He has honored every step of discipline I’ve taken, and one step always leads to the next…

    Katy McKenna Raymond

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