Discipline, Freedom and Paying the Price

by MW Cook

While at KLBC I read a book by Don Whitney. The premise was simple: Discipline is the price of freedom.

Of course, I had to agree right away. The amazing guitarist paid for the freedom to make his music with discipline. The Olympic athlete paid for his abilities through discipline. The software developer, doctor, dancer, singer and painter all paid with the currency of time, sweat and discipline.

But I never really made the connection with writing.

I love fiction. Reading and writing it. But it seemed that the ability to write decent fiction came in spurts. One day I could belt out a couple thousand words of good stuff. The next week I couldn’t write a thing. Non-fiction was always easier, because it’s a lot like talking (which I’m very good at). But fiction came and went. for a long time I assumed that this was just the way it goes.

But it’s not, really. There is nothing fundamentally different between fiction writing and music, visual arts or athletics. Some people have natural ability, yes. But everyone who wants to excel needs to pay for it.

But I never made that connection. And it stunted my writing. While other aspiring writers are busy with writing exercises and other talent-building strategies, I only focused on projects that seemed ‘productive.’ Just the things that seemed to have a use in themselves. I think I ripped myself off. The Olympian doesn’t feel like he’s wasting his time by running even though there is no race. The informal running prepares him for the race.

So I’m going to run more often (metaphorically, of course). A lot of my writing may never be read by anyone. But that’s okay because whatever I write will support and build and solidify the things that will be read.

On we go!

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