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I caught myself the other day thinking about one of my characters as though he were a real person.

Which either means I’ve reached a breakthrough in my short, unillustrious novel-writing career or I’m having some sort of psychotic break. Possibly both, as it seems many of the world’s most famous writers were also slightly mentally unstable.

What’s even stranger is that while in week one of the National Novel Writing Month, writing roughly 2000 words a day was sheer torture, week two of the novel writing adventure was easier. It became less of a teeth-gritted-butt-in-chair-checking-Facebook-every-fifteen-minutes proposition and more of a reason to jump out of bed in the morning. My allotted two-hours of writing time became something to look forward to instead of something to postpone.

While this is partly an indication of how much I love to write – I think it’s also an example of the power of discipline to sway our affections.

This powerful force of discipline was at work the first time I began to seriously exercise. I started running partly from peer-pressure (all of my friends were runners at the time) and partly from recognizing the direction my body was headed if I didn’t start being more active.

For the first several weeks, it was torture. I probably wouldn’t have lasted beyond them if I didn’t have a regularly scheduled date with a friend to go to the gym. But into the second and third month – I began to actually enjoy myself. I hit the treadmills even when workout buddies had decided to sleep in. The anticipation of the “runner’s high” overcame objections of sleep, busyness, and soreness. Discipline had turned to delight.

I’m reading The Celebration of Discipline by Richard J Foster at the moment. It seems like such an odd title – who ever celebrates discipline? Each chapter centers on one of the spiritual disciplines – silence, confession, prayer, guidance, worship, etc. Some of them I have already learned to love. Some of them I consider skipping the chapter.

Yet in each one, I know there is the possibility of delight. For a while, they will be unpleasant. They will be done only by a gritted-teeth force of will. But slowly, discipline turns to delight. We begin to celebrate the discipline that brings new, good habits into our life. The richness discovered in the practice – of writing, of running, of Scripture, of confession – overrides whatever unpleasantness we had to put up with to discover it.

What discipline or habit have you learned to love? 

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