Have you ever lost faith in your work?
Faith that it’s good?
Faith that you’ll finish it?
Faith that this writing thing is even worth pursuing?
Writing can stir up so many feelings, my friends. And there are times like this, where our resistance transcends mere frustration or fatigue or “why is this taking so long?” crabbiness, and sinks into a deeper kind of doubt.
The kind that makes us feel like we no longer believe in what we’re doing.
We all go through this. We would not be human if we didn’t.
Today I want to talk about this powerful idea of our faith in our work. Where does it come from when we have it, and where does it go when we lose it?
Is there a way to get it back?
Do we even need to have faith our work to keep going? The answer might surprise you.
p.s. – This topic is in response to a real question submitted to me...
I teach and mentor a great many writers, and one of the first things I ask them is this:
What’s the number one thing holding you back?
Again and again, the answer is:
Discipline. Discipline. Discipline. The stubborn lack of it is the bane of the would-be writer’s existence, or so they tell me.
And yet I wonder. Can it be true that all these passionate, smart, sensitive, longing-to-write humans are just too lazy to bother doing the thing they say they most want to do?
So this word discipline interests me. What do these writers mean by it?
The first definition of discipline, according to Merriam-Webster, is:
a) control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b) orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
Kind of rigid-sounding, don’t you think? And the second definition of definition is punishment....
Oh, my dear storytellers. If I had a nickel for every time a struggling or would-be writer has said those words to me! I would have all the nickels in nickeldom.
But are these words even true? Is “lack of discipline” the correct diagnosis when a writer finds themselves unable to focus on the work for more than a few minutes at a time?
Or stares at the screen and decides to do laundry instead?
Or avoids the writing chair for days, weeks, years on end, until their dream of writing threatens to wither altogether?
Even if these writers are correct, and discipline deficiency is an actual condition they suffer from, it’s not a helpful diagnosis. Adding “more discipline” is not a simple matter of taking a vitamin supplement. Any kind of behavior change is notoriously difficult.
And what if “discipline” is not the issue at...