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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.


17 comments on “Guest Blogger Dana Pratola

  1. Nona
    March 22, 2012

    You were SO spot on. And yes, I did the half-laugh/half-snort!

  2. Marianne Evans
    March 22, 2012

    Yep, yep, yep!!! Great post, Dana!!!

  3. Michael Duncan
    March 22, 2012

    Great Article! I agree with you 100%.

    I have been accused of “daydreaming” when, in fact, I am doing research on my next work. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing and may God richly bless you with a plethora of stories that will touch lives and anchor souls to Jesus.

  4. Tanya Hanson
    March 22, 2012

    Hi Dana, enjoyed the post and I share the same feelings and experiences! Plus I think I have ADD, LOL. (Lots of alphabet soup there. Here’s more: xoxox, my friend.)

  5. Debby
    March 22, 2012

    I love your theory! Thanks for the encouragment.

  6. Dora Hiers
    March 22, 2012

    Great post, Dana. You’re sooo right! I think I like being called an Explorer. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  7. Dana Pratola
    March 22, 2012

    Thanks for the kind words =-D Not being alone is cool, but being in the company of fantastic, faithful, encouraging people is such a blessing!

  8. E.A. West
    March 22, 2012

    Oh, yes, I can identify with what you said! When I’m working on one manuscript, I usually have random ideas about others, which leads to a bit of “quick” research, which leads to something else, and so on until a couple of hours have passed and I’ve written only a couple of sentences on the original project. Was I working on writing the whole time? Yes. Was I working efficiently? Absolutely not, but I probably learned some cool stuff that will move at least one WIP forward and possibly inspire yet another story idea. LOL 🙂

  9. Pamela S Thibodeaux
    March 22, 2012

    That’s it! You should be a psychologist or therapist for writers!… “No honey, you’re not lazy or undisciplined, you just spend too much time exploring the angles instead of WRITING them down!” LOL!

    Love it Dana. Great post.

    I clearly identify.

    Good luck & God’s blessings on streamlining that theory into another novel 😉


  10. Carol Ann Erhardt
    March 22, 2012

    Oh, yeah! I can totally relate!!!

  11. Dana Pratola
    March 22, 2012

    LOL, I love you guys 😉

  12. Laurean Brooks
    March 23, 2012

    Dana, Thank you for your short, but powerful post. You hit the nail on the head. You forgot to mention the guilt that flogs us writers because the house is falling down all around us. Dirty dishes and laundry, dust bunnies under the furniture, And even our pets whine from lack of attention.

    In my case add a slow dial-up connection (not by choice), and the problems triple. Facebook, blog visits, and promoting can take all day.

    I’ve disciplined myself (finally) to cut out two hours in the early afternoon, take my laptop and go to the bedroom. I close the door and curl up in my recliner then really get down to business.

    • Dana Pratola
      March 23, 2012

      You’re right about that, Laurean. I laughed when I read the pet part. Lola (dog) always wants to play and I try to ignore her. Finally I throw her toy to get rid of her- but she keeps bringing it back!

  13. Wendy Davy
    March 23, 2012

    Oh, I can relate. I should be writing as we speak. Instead, I’m enjoying your insightful post….
    Thanks for the fun escape…now back to writing. 😉

  14. Donna B. Snow
    March 23, 2012

    I love it! Definitely our brains are constantly in the state of “what if” – and each rabbit trail could lead to others and take quite some time…and yeah, I certainly agree with the explorers part, too.

    What a great way to describe the meandering paths we follow.

  15. LoRee Peery
    March 23, 2012

    Such spot-on insight. We are more alike than different when it comes to writing. I love the idea of always having notepaper handy (I cannot count on my memory). It’s amazing the things that come when we aren’t looking and can later be used in our stories. I also love the quote “Wasted time is not a waste of time.”

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This entry was posted on March 22, 2012 by in Guest Bloggers and tagged , .

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