I love chocolate, but chocolate doesn’t love me.
It’s a confession I have to make. Once in a while, I get a hankering for chocolate. I know; its supposed to be a girl thing, but I suspect it hits a few guys too. The trouble is, I can’t stop with one piece. And when I have finished a whole bag of Snickers Minis–as I did this past weekend–my body tells me that I did a bad thing.
That was Sunday that I finished the bag. Today is Tuesday, and my stomach is still rumbling. As the Bible says, it was sweet going down, but agony later. Of course, the Bible wasn’t talking about chocolate, and I really want to use it as an illustration for something bigger.
It takes real discipline to be a writer. Oh sure, there are many people who talk about wanting to be a writer, such as the myriad retirees to who used to frequent my writer’s workshops when I was a book editor. Most of them have one book in them, if that, and if you reject it, they feel that their entire life has been worthless.
But a career of writing is a commitment that is based on delayed gratification. I know, because I fight it all the time. You have your chocolate in front of you–television, games, reading, even sleep–and you think, well, a little won’t hurt. But then a little becomes a lot, and you kick yourself because you didn’t get page one written yet. Despite how sweet that chocolate is, you have to put it away into the cabinet and close the door. Better yet, throw it away.
That’s not to say that you have to give up completely on reading, sleep or watching TV, although I know of many writers who have found that giving up TV not only helps them commit to writing, but helps their kids in school as well. But you have to learn moderation. If you can’t, that’s when you need to go to major changes in your life.
I started the school year with the commitment to finish a book that I am halfway through. I set aside two hours in the middle of the day to dedicate to writing. I am doing everything I can to make my life conducive to writing–except actual writing. But until I put words on paper, it’s all for naught.
I love chocolate, but I need to remember what it does to me when I eat it. And instead of that sweet that turns bitter in my stomach, I need to reach for something else.
Like a good salad.