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A writer's discipline as it relates to a peanut butter sandwich

A writer's discipline as it relates to a peanut butter sandwich

Mistake number one: feeding the kids first. I had all the stuff out for my leftover tuna salad lunch of healthful goodness, but what kind of mom eats first while the kids wait around for their PBJ? Answer: the one with enough foresight to eat a little earlier, before the kids are starving.

I think you see where I'm going with this. The delightful scent of summer in the form of jam, slicing the chewy seed-strewn bread, kids bouncing at my elbow, eager to carry their favorite lunch to the table... rationalization mode sets in.

They probably won't eat the heel of the bread anyway.

Half a sandwich isn't a big deal, I can still make my salad.

And yet, that gooey nut butter coats a slippery slope. If one half is no big deal, another quarter doesn't matter much more. Then, there's the kids' leftovers. In for a penny, in for a pound. Pretty soon I'm putting the tuna back in the fridge, since I'm not really hungry anymore (even though all those empty carbs aren't going to sustain me for more than a couple of hours).

This is lunch discipline at its worst, and today I noticed a distinct correlation between this incident and the days when I fail to meet my writing goals.

As I begin, so I continue.

My best writing days typically start at a coffeeshop with no wifi, as early as possible. No email, no web, not even writing-related choices like critiquing my partners' chapters or checking out my online class forum. I just open my manuscript and begin. By starting with the healthiest choice, temptation is eluded, at least for the next several hours. That's when the words start to fly.

Leftover tuna salad never looks that good in the fridge. But, if I go ahead and pull it out, put it on some greens, dress it up with avocado and tamari sunflower seeds - pretty soon I'm digging in with an appetite. By filling up on the good stuff, it's much easier to ignore the kids' sandwich crusts.

Discipline begins with acknowledging the difficulty, but setting your goals anyway. Sharing the goals with others adds a huge boost of accountability. Then, set yourself up for success by cultivating this habit: do the healthy thing first. Everything else can wait, even jam-loving munchkins!

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