Guest Blogger Dana Pratola

Undisciplined? Nah, Explorers!

If you’re anything like me, the time you don’t spend writing is spent worrying or complaining about why you don’t write. To be honest, I can be pretty hard on myself. I don’t know why an author like Nora Roberts can crank out five books a year when I can only put out one every five years. It’s disheartening.

I tell myself if I could just crack down and get to work I would have a shelf full of my own books instead of hers. But maybe it’s not that simple. The issue isn’t that I’m lazy as I had been tempted to believe before I began taking an interest in my own psyche. The trouble for me, and maybe some of you, is two-fold.

Does the following sound familiar?

1)      I’m not disciplined. This is NOT the same as lazy. Lazy is not wanting to do something because it’s too hard. I have no trouble working hard. The lack of discipline, however, means I’m not keeping myself in line, holding myself to task until the job is done. I think, “So what if I don’t finish it now? No one is making me. There are no penalties for not finishing. I’ll get to it later.”

2)      I have the attention span of a puppy. I want to see everything at once, and often do. I can see the task before me, not just the hard work, but the pleasure of creating; I see the potential to touch people, and the opportunity to make a buck in the right venue. Added to that, I see the screen in front of me and know that I’m expected to fill it with words, ideas, meaning. But before I can accomplish any of that, distractions rear their ugly heads. Where’s my coffee? It was here a minute ago. So off I go to the kitchen. Once there, I ought to put the sugar away. In the cabinet I notice a can of soup. Hmm, maybe a little soup would be good right now – fuel up for writing. Of course while it cooks I need to do something, so I bring my laptop to the kitchen. Since there’s no sense starting to write only to have to stop to eat, I check my FB, email, Twitter…

(Okay, you should know that as soon as I wrote the last line I texted my husband to stop by the diner while he’s out and see what soup they have today. )

Honestly, it’s only a miracle of God that I get anything done. On the surface it sounds like I prefer making excuses. But rather than engaging in that vicious cycle of self-reproof, let me tell you what I’ve learned from other writers — I’m not alone. Many of you reading this now have nodded in agreement or did one of those half-laugh/half-snort things because you know exactly what I’m talking about. So I’m here to tell you there’s no point beating yourself up over it. I have a theory . . .

While many non-fiction authors I know tend to see things in a more black and white, “just the facts, Ma’am” kind of way, authors of fiction are an odd breed. We’re looking beyond the facts to the “what-ifs,” trying to see around the bend in the road, taking the bricks apart to view them from all angles, gathering every descriptive detail, then rearranging them into some kind of cohesive order that will lead the reader where we want them to go yet still be fresh and original. Unique. 

It seems the fiction brain is geared differently (not better, just differently =-) Apart from authors like the aforementioned Nora, who seem to be anomalies, maybe the fiction brain isn’t undisciplined, just following a specific discipline. The discipline of exploration.

Yes! I like that theory. And instead of saying we have short attention spans, how about saying we have “an explorer mentality.” We’re not wasting time as some might think. We’re taking time to figure all the angles, to see the bigger picture.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. It might not help get the work done but it could save some time on self-pity!



Dana is a 47 yr. old mother of 3, married 25 yrs, and author of The Covering.  “The Lord is my Savior, writing is my passion and publishing inspirational books that show the grace of God is my ministry.” – Follow more of her writings and wanderings at Dana Pratola‘s Blog.

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