On the one hand, discipline is known as the fortitude to stay with it.  On another, it’s harsh retribution for bad behavior.  Some will point to its root of “disciple” for clues to what this thing really is.  It is, I believe, at its best, a school of practice which you agree to follow.

Discipline is the willingness to get up and do something –

  •  You want to do or have chosen to do.
  •  Others expect you to do.
  •  Everyone else is doing.
  •  You think you should do or you’ve decided is best to do.
  •  You’ve promised to do.

And do it again.

Part of Discipline is the getting up and doing, but it also includes the rules/the practice  which keeps you going.  The commitment and dedication, the following, the discipleship to keep coming back.  It contains a streak of perseverance, which might carry with it shades of retribution, but is merely the willingness to try again.

I like the vision of showing up.  Long ago. I don’t recall if it was Natalie Goldberg or Julia Cameron.  Perhaps Anne La Mott. (Much of their teaching overlaps.  Rather esteemed company in my book!)  As a writer, I was taught to just show up.  Doesn’t much matter what you do. If you can get yourself to the desk, to the writing tablet, you’re half way there.  That is the core of discipline. 

Once you’re there, you can use tricks you pick up for yourself along the way.  For instance, I can usually get into writing something if I read over what I’ve already written about it.  Or, if I take pen in hand (they say that’s more connected to the heart) and put it to paper and just write.  If I just write, free flowing, whatever I’m thinking about the topic at hand, what I want to write about it, I will generate something.  Natalie Goldberg swears by Writing Practice – doing 10 minutes of focused writing to get you warmed up. It’s worked for me more than once. There are many such fire-starters.  Some may suit you better than others.

It always begins with the first step of showing up. Being willing. Or as Paulette Terrels teaches, being willing to be willing.  I use the adage: “A small amount of effort, applied regularly, produces results.”  That regular application is the discipline to show up and show up again. You generate fuel to do that through your commitment to following the practice, the path you have chosen.

An additional observation shows me that when I do that, when I give things time and attention (again, no matter how much), “handling” it as SARK says, I generate momentum for coming back.  When next I come to the task, ask myself to show up,  I often find connections have been made.  That “small amount of effort” allows my subconscious to do some of the work for me. These connections fuel what I call the “head of steam.”  It creates a vortex for me to show up to write, eager to get to it, knowing exactly what I want to say.  (And have some time to stay with it. Amen!)