Emotional Discipline

I remember reading an article by Jessica Morrell that included her musings on the subject of emotional intelligence. When I began reading, I expected to learn about the logic of my character arc. Instead, I read about me–and every other writer out there. Jessica discussed my ability to do what needed to be done despite how I felt at the moment. Could I be depressed, feel miserably misunderstood and undervalued, and still put my butt in my chair, get my eyes on the screen, put fingers to keyboard and write? Could I channel those self-destructive energies into character conflict instead of tearing into my own ego?

A very interesting, thought-provoking read, especially coming on the heels of a short motivational piece by Ralph Marston about how my time use highlights what I really want, as opposed to what I say I want.

I want to be a full-time writer. If that’s true then my choices, what I do with my time on a daily basis, will reflect that desire. If I allow my emotions to get between me and my keyboard, I’m shooting my dreams in the foot. So emotional intelligence becomes an issue I need to be aware of. Not that I shouldn’t honor my emotions and acknowledge my feelings. Far from it. I need to channel them into my writing instead of allowing them to deflect me from my work.

I think a better term is emotional discipline. Intelligence works as far as informing me that the potential roadblock exits, but it’s discipline that will get me around (or more likely over) the blockade.

Feeling like a fraud, like my writing sucks? Write a story or an essay.
Feeling depressed and miserable? Write a story.
Feeling angry and upset? Write a story and allow the characters to act on those emotions … and witness the carnage I’ve avoided in my real life.

Whatever emotion I’m experiencing, I must deal with it, soothe it, put it away with honor, and get my butt in my chair and my hands on my keyboard.

Why? Because I want to be a full-time writer and my time use needs to reflect that desire.


About Debbie Mumford

Debbie Mumford specializes in fantasy and paranormal romance. She loves mythology and is especially fond of Celtic and Native American lore. She writes about faeries, dragons, and other fantasy creatures for adults as herself and for tweens and young adults as Deb Logan. Visit debbiemumford.com to learn more about her currently available work.

Posted on September 19, 2011, in about writing, Authors - Debbie Mumford and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Wow, great article. I agree completely. My husband recently complained that I’m putting in long hours but if I don’t, I won’t reach my goal. The only priority higher than my writing are my kids and husband. So I work my writing schedule around them — even if it means my house needs hoovering again 😉

  2. Glad you found it interesting, Kat!

  3. Two thumbs-up for this idea! The only Stephen King novel I ever read (his heroic fantasy novel!) had a forward where he tells a funny story. Meeting people at parties, they would realize who he was, and would immediately say “You know, I’ve often thought of becoming a writer”. Stephen said he finally figured out how to respond: “That’s interesting, I’ve often thought of becoming a brain surgeon!”.
    The point being, as you say here- writing is a thing you DO (not just think about), and if you actually do it, you’re a writer. Full stop. Of course, everyone REALLY wants to be an AUTHOR- get published, the money the fame and the groupies (or at least that’s what I was promised). But it’s well worth pointing out that you won’t get THERE without doing what you say HERE.

  4. Love the Stephen King quote.

    I saw a writers’ blog recently that commented that everyone thinks they can write because they confuse “writing” with “typing”. How true!

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