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Dear Editor: Is Discipline or Inspiration More Important?

—(Originally published in Publishers Weekly)— Our intrepid founder and veteran editor, Betty Kelly Sargent, is back to answer a reader who wonders whether discipline or inspiration is more important for a writer. Dear Editor: How important is discipline versus inspiration for a writer? —Harry R. Discipline is as essential to a writer as training is… [Read More]

Discipline vs Inspiration for writers by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

—(Originally published in Publishers Weekly)—

Discipline vs Inspiration for writers by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.comOur intrepid founder and veteran editor, Betty Kelly Sargent, is back to answer a reader who wonders whether discipline or inspiration is more important for a writer.

Dear Editor:

How important is discipline versus inspiration for a writer?

—Harry R.

Discipline is as essential to a writer as training is to an athlete. A plaque in Danielle Steel’s office reads, “There are no miracles. There is only discipline.”

“It’s all about discipline,” Steel says. “If you don’t have it, you can’t write.” I agree.

Discipline First

But first, ask yourself how important it is for you to become a writer. Are you passionate about it? Do you read a lot and have a clear idea about why some stories are better than others? Are you willing to devote a certain number of hours every day to perfecting your craft? If your answer to each question is yes, then go for it. Create a regular writing schedule and stick to it.

Jeffrey Archer writes every day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (with two-hour breaks) when he’s working on a new novel.

Salmon Rushdie told the New York Times, “A novel is a marathon... Do it like a job.”

And John Irving believes that "Good habits are worth being fanatical about."

John Searles, author of Help for the Haunted, tells me, “It is essential to carve out a regular, quiet time to clear your mind and get words down on paper every day.” That’s the key.

Remember, discipline is not a bad word. It is a tool, your best friend and ally. It’s what enables you to become the writer you want to be.Discipline vs Inspiration for writers by Betty Kelly Sargent for BookWorks.com

Master Discipline and Inspiration Will Follow

“You need three things to become a novelist: talent, luck, and discipline,” Michael Chabon famously said. “Discipline is the one element of those three things that you can control.”

So control it. Take charge. Make the commitment to your writing and, before you know it, inspiration will follow.


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