Yesterday I spent some time with Chad Michaelis, owner of Vertex Electronics, troubleshooting one of his newest commercial products. After successfully resolving the issue, we decompressed a bit and chatted about the prospect of increasing my hours at Vertex, an opportunity that’s both exciting and nerve-wracking as I’m very protective of my writing time. As we talked, the conversation swung toward the challenges of owning a business. Leaning back in his chair, Chad folded his hands behind his head and looked up at the ceiling. “I’m convinced that the majority of businesses fail because of lack of discipline,” he said.
I nodded. “After I was let go from my job last year,” I told him, “I still get up at 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning, walk the dogs, then go to work. I need that discipline to keep me focused or I wouldn’t get anything done.” For me, organization and self-discipline are second nature, but even so, I’ve found that working from home sometimes takes monumental effort to stay focused and remain on track. Spending hour after hour in my office with my plans on one hand and reality (aka, family life) on the other has managed to crumple my inflexibility and polish my forbearance. But it’s still dang hard! And amazingly rewarding.
A couple weeks ago I posted my 100th blog post, two months after reaching my blissful one-year anniversary with WordPress. In these past 14 months I’ve cranked out and published about 100,000 words on the blog alone—that’s two modern books, or about 1/6th of War and Peace. That’s self-discipline. My good friend, Robyn Conley, is a writer, book doctor, and speaker (http://robynconley.com). Before each speaking session, she passes around a small box filled with an assortment of buttons. After each of the participants takes a button, Robyn explains the symbolism: It’s a reminder to keep your “butt on” the chair. Because, for a writer, the button position is the most important position to assume and the most imperative to maintain.
At the moment I have no set writing schedule, just a goal to post at least once a week and to make progress on the six book projects plus the school curricula I’m juggling at the same time. Flexibility has never been my forte, but I’ve found over the years that I actually prefer the freedom to write “organically” as opposed to sticking to a rigid outline and schedule; it keeps my muse much happier. And if my muse is happy, I’m happy. But with greater freedom comes much greater responsibility; no situation will test you more than being turned loose to make a living under your own auspices. It’s sporty but oh so exhilarating. As Chad Michaelis told me yesterday, “No one’s writing me a paycheck.” Our lives are what we make of them, and this writing thing suits me just fine even when the inner engineer wants to do the math on everything, especially the checkbook balance. So I write, I post, I turn the crank with diligence and fearlessness.
Practically every day I plant my butt on the chair and either tap away at the keyboard or write longhand in my journal. Some days I work on a blog post, other days I design power supplies or oscillator circuits, yet other days I sit down with my wife to plan book signings. I’m getting ‘er done. Why do I subject myself to this self-imposed, beautiful torture? As I’ve said before, it’s what I do. It’s what God created me for and I honor and glorify Him by walking obediently in my calling. I choose to write. I have to write! And 100 blog posts and two published books later, I’ve found that I write “despite.” Despite the mornings I’m wrapped in apathy and discouragement, despite the days my muse decides to sleep in and not show up for work, despite the weeks nothing I’ve set out to do gets done. With purpose and determination, it happens.
I’ve managed to generate and upload 100 blog posts with the hope and prayer that something I’ve written will touch someone’s life for the better. Like yesterday, when our dear friend Bridget Brooks posted the following on Facebook, regarding The Epiphany of Joy: “‘I know this will be a lifelong adventure, a continuous education, and a reminder that Joy is a gift planted in me by the Spirit of God. I need to remember to unwrap that gift and receive it daily in my heart.’ – David C. Hughes. I’m just getting started and already know what a blessing this book will be!!!! Thank you for your obedience.” Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,” the Apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, “but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV®). This is a verse Mary and I quote to Hannah when she tells us she’s scared of something, but how often I’ve whispered this scripture to myself, reminding myself that, first and foremost, the Spirit of God empowers us to walk in our callings with self-discipline.
I left Chad Michaelis’ office last night with a renewed sense of destiny as I remembered God’s faithfulness and all the “coincidences” I’ve experienced in my relationship with him, his family, and with his company. God created this opportunity to work for Chad as a demonstration of His continuous provision, confirmation I’m walking in my giftedness. By faith I continue to step out despite the fear of failure. In love I accept the challenge, knowing God will guide my every step. By the Spirit we are all empowered, and by self-discipline we all proceed. As the Apostle Paul reminded us in his letter to the Romans: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:31, 37 NIV®).
Now to conquer the next electronic design challenge. And the next 100 blog posts!
(NOTE: Starting next week I plan to post a six-part series on motivation for writers. Until then, many blessings!)
Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes