On the Cusp… With a Lack of Discipline and Focus

There is a cup of coffee sitting next to me. Caribou Daybreak Blend from the one cup coffee maker who’s brand I won’t specifically advertise here. There’s steam rolling off the cup and the creamer is still swirling around, a liquid tornado. It’s pretty. Sometimes I can get lost in that view. The scent carries to me as the air conditioning whips a chill through the room. It’s 95 degrees outside after you factor in the humidity. 71 degrees inside.

In front of me are three screens. Normally there’s one and it’s sitting in my lap. Not so today. The Lamborghini of Laptops had a mental breakdown over the holiday weekend. We’ll be giving it intensive therapy this weekend coming up but for now it makes a sporty paperweight. The Command Center is the main hub of our communications network at Three O’clock Java’s home offices. It resides in a corner and definitely commands attention. Friends believe it could launch a spacecraft. They’re correct. It was constructed to be intimidating.

On the left screen I see my Gmail and various other email programs, search screens, messengers and various notes. Google hangs out over there with quite the presence. I’ve sacrificed the corner to Google on the off chance it saves my life when I’ve messed up. Today is that day. More on that in a moment.

The center screen is WordPress.com. It’s not maximized. Behind it I have loaded Word. Microsoft Word is what I use to write my novels. There is not a document loaded, currently. There’s a cursor flashing at me in what I take to be the new digital Morse Code for, “If you were typing right now I wouldn’t be flashing… If you were typing right now I wouldn’t be flashing…”.

On the right screen I have Facebook and CNN.com. They are generally ignored until I need to stretch and disregard something for no apparent reason. They are quite useful.

The music is blasting. I have turned Pandora on with my tablet. It’s plugged in to a sound bar and is set to the reasonable level of 23. Hi there, downstairs neighbors. Hopefully they enjoy the Dave Matthew’s Channel as much as I do.

Most of this is part of the ritual of writing. I do this daily though the music volume tends to change. And, like I said, normally I’m on the Lamborghini of Laptops so I’m trying to make the small adjustments. Mental note: my screens are pretty busy, perhaps I don’t need to load everything just because I can. Onward and upwards, my friends.

For those keeping track, a lot of exciting things have been going on. I released Freedom’s Treasure on Amazon Kindle in early August. For most of the month I’ve been working on promotions and watching with great interest as word has gotten out. I recently joined GoodReads as an author and can now be followed on Facebook at Facebook.com/AKLawrenceAuthor.

I had an eight day vacation in the month which, of course, took me off of routine but it was in the best way possible. Recharging by visiting with family can never be a bad thing. However, the new month is upon us and it is time to finish up At Wit’s End so that I can use the turn of the season to turn a new idea into something special.

Which is why I sit here with a steaming cup of coffee (now 2/3 empty), several screens and some loud music. This is the process of writing. The Lamborghini of Laptops had the only copy of the new book on it. But wait, the brilliant minds here at Three O’clock remembered to upload the book just in case I had wanted to work on it in Michigan. Excellent! And look at that, Gmail is loaded on the left screen.

I’ve been stuck on a part in Chapter 7. I’ve re-read Chapter 6 and what I’ve completed of 7. I’ve lost myself in the make believe world that I created. The programs and screens don’t exist when I enter the world of Wit and Marie. I see their apartments or home offices or whatever. Except this time, as I’m staring at the screens, I’m getting mental movies of things going on in real life.

New employment opportunities have been accepted and that means changes, for the better, in the real world. Traveling to new places to explore is now on the menu. Various trips and vacations and living arrangements are being contemplated. These fantasies are just as exciting to contemplate as the story that I’m writing.

We’re on the cusp of great things. The Three O’clock Java gang has several exciting prospects on the horizon and it’s a great feeling! The optimism is swirling through the air like liquid creamer in the second cup of coffee I just grabbed.

This is where discipline is supposed to kick in. The almighty Lawrence Willpower. Technically At Wit’s End is the third novel I’ll have completed. I am still sitting on the manuscript for Extremity which will be released third though it was written first. No, it’s not part of a series though I had envisioned one for it. Perhaps someday.

I learned some pretty serious discipline during the writings of Extremity and Freedom’s Treasure. I also learned that as great things start to happen it’s extremely difficult to maintain the discipline. That’s where ritual comes in.

The scent of coffee is supposed to trigger the urge to write. It’s working, to an extent. I’m writing here. The music, Dave Matthews Band on Pandora, is something I listen to almost exclusively when I write and, therefore, should also trigger the creative urge.

And now the final piece. To keep the ritual complete I’m shutting down screens. Tricking myself into feeling like it’s the laptop in front of me. Hopefully I don’t mis-click and launch some sort of missile code.

It’s imperative as a writer to learn mental discipline. It’s not something that can ever be totally mastered, I think, more practiced like medicine and law. After nearly a month off the practice is starting out slow. Ten minutes at a time, stretched to 15, stretched to 20 with random breaks thrown in where I can think about how we’re on the cusp of so many different experiences.

Then I remind myself that no one will ever find out about the world of Wit and Marie if I don’t write it. And the practice of focus and discipline comes back. And that’s when I hit publish and….

see ya!

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