"...at this stage, it's the same with writing. I don't have deadlines or a publisher breathing down my neck. I don't have readers waiting anxiously for my next book. I don't have anyone making me write at all. It's up to me. It's my decision to show up or not. "

How I Learned Self-Discipline

Sometimes it’s hard for me to balance my interests and hobbies – writing and fitness. They couldn’t be more different from each other. Fitness requires physical movement, whereas writing is literally the opposite as it’s so stationary.

But then I think, the two are actually very similar. Perhaps the major similarity between the two is that they both require discipline.

At the gym, I don’t have anyone standing over my shoulder to make sure I do the final rep, to pick up the heavy weight, or to run that mile (yeah that’s all I do – I mean, I have to draw the line somewhere).

I don’t have anyone there to make me work out at all.

It’s up to me.

It’s up to me to get up and do the work, especially since deciding to back away from trying to compete in bodybuilding (see full post about this here). Without a show date to work toward or photo shoot, there’s no rush or pressure to go to the gym.

And at this stage, it’s the same with writing. I don’t have deadlines or a publisher breathing down my neck. I don’t have readers waiting anxiously for my next book. I don’t have anyone making me write at all.

It’s up to me.

It’s my decision to show up or not. And of course there are days that I skip the gym or my writing session, but if I skip too many days in a row, it’ll be noticeable.

If I skip too many days, weeks, months at the gym, the effects will be physically visible. It’ll be gradual, but the effects will be there eventually.

With writing, if I skip too many days, I won’t get my book done. My writing won’t improve, and I’ll get in a rut. Again, the effects will be gradual, but not showing up will negatively affect me in the long run.

Fitness taught me discipline. It takes a great amount of discipline to show up day after day when I don’t have to. Sure it makes me feel good and that’s what gets me moving at the end of it all, but I could probably get by with four days a week. I don’t have to be as diligent as I am to go six days a week while also eating the right foods.

It takes discipline to keep that up week after week, especially when the results are never immediately physically evident. Which is why it’s so hard to keep going sometimes, to keep eating the salad instead of the pizza, to keep squatting when all you want to do is lie down – all when you won’t get results unless you stay consistent with it over a long period of time.

When I first started taking my fitness more seriously, I still wouldn’t do all the exercises or sets I’d planned on. I’d slack off, talking to my gym friends, dawdling in the locker room, and jumping off the treadmill a few minutes early. But then those few minutes would turn into way more, to the point where I stopped doing so much cardio at all.

I didn’t take it seriously at first, and thus, I wasn’t getting results. I knew I needed to commit myself to fitness to reach the goals I set for myself – to feel good and increase my energy.

So that’s what I did.

I committed myself to a consistent workout routine, and as a byproduct, I improved my self-discipline in other areas of my life as well, one being writing.

Now that I’ve started this blog, some people know I want to be a full-time writer, a published novelist. But if I hadn’t done this, hardly anyone would know. I could let the dream fade into the background like I had for so long, and no one would know.

There’d be no one to hold me accountable or disappoint if I decided not to do it.

But that’s not what I want. I want to write books, and fitness taught me the discipline I needed to get my book done. To show up every morning and write the words when all I wanted to do was lie around with my dogs. To be consistent with this daily routine for months until I was finished.

I couldn’t see the rewards immediately. At first, I was just happy to get in a few hundred words each day – that was more than I did per month last year. But then, my word count steadily increased, and I was closer and closer to completing a full draft.

From there, when I started seeing results and nearing the finish line, it got easier and easier to remain consistent.

Nothing rewarding is ever easy to obtain. It’s harder but much more satisfying to work for something. You’ll be that much more proud of your accomplishments and yourself.

But you need discipline to get there.

Stay focused, remember what’s most important to you, and stick with it, even when no one’s watching. Even when the TV looks more interesting. Even when you’re feeling discouraged. STICK WITH IT.

Do it for you. Do it for your future.

Do it for your dreams, y’all.

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