This morning I found myself thinking about the nature of discipline after reading two different views about how often to publish blog posts. One recommends publishing only when you have something to say and the other suggests writing at regular intervals. The latter is Chris Guillibeau’s preference who says “Set a schedule and never miss a post . . . this isn’t so much about the readership–most people would forgive me if I missed a day, and many wouldn’t even notice. Instead, it’s about SELF-DISCIPLINE”.
Now those of you who have been around a while will remember that on my return from Phoenix, I intended to publish a blog post every day. I didn’t do so for long and so was wondering whether or not Chris’s approach might be a useful one for me to follow. But there’s something about the word ‘discipline’ that leaves me cold.
Whenever I read something that suggests I practice discipline, I find myself silently screaming “No, no. Don’t make me do it. I want to do it my way”. No wonder I don’t like it. The story I tell about discipline is that it is a form of coercion. Something demanded from the outside that necessitates doing it someone else’s way.
It’s a story I suspect, that’s a hangover from school days when the teachers seemed all powerful and from childhood in general when parents or other adults were in control. Discipline conjures up having to tidy my room, do my piano practice or something connected with the PE instructor on the parade ground. And I am obviously not alone. If you look in Google at the most common searches people carry out, that contain the word “discipline”, you will find that of the 200 most popular, way over half (I stopped counting at 100) relate to children, kids, toddlers, teachers, parents, classrooms, schools etc. No wonder the idea has such negative connotations.
But I am no longer a child and am free to choose a new view. I can make it an internal choice now rather than an external command.
However, writing a blog post everyday wasn’t a goal that was connected to something I really wanted. It was a goal I made for it’s own sake. But I DO want to get better at writing. I want to discover more of what I have to say. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts and make adjustments to how I approach things. I hope I will inspire others to think about things differently too and to experiment with other ways of being and doing things.
So rather than try to be disciplined and only post when I have something to say, or set a schedule and never miss a post, or make a post everyday, I would rather put my energy into practising the craft and spend at least 15 minutes a day writing something – anything. Doesn’t matter. Just get my pen on paper. That’s a discipline that’s worth learning for me.
As Steve Chandler would say – “Discipline is remembering what you want”.