Let's start off with the big issue: framing my life and work in terms of "discipline" and "goals" feels futile, because I have neither.
"Goals" imply achievable things; "setting goals" involves dreaming about what could be, looking at what was plausible, and planning how to achieve them, and doing them. For the longest time nothing was plausible; I had vague wouldn't-it-be-nice ideas, but no way to get there from here, even if I was the sort of person who could - and I'm still not. Building worlds without me was as much as I could manage. My goal was "the status quo," because hope was always and consistently the first step on the road to disappointment.
"Discipline" wasn't any better; I'm not and don't have it. I'm disorganized. I played with the Sternbilden concept because connecting dots is easier than building from foundations. I'm good at learning, but bad at studying; give me a book to read and I'll read it and a dozen others, but don't assign me homework you need to rely on being done. Mine is a bizarro Green Lantern Ring, powered not by willpower but sloth.
"Regular" is a monastic term, cf. Latin regula: "Rule." St. Benedict had one; so did St. Augustine, whose was much more flexible. The concept's filtered down into modern culture via the idea of a "rule of life," which is basically as much monasticism as evangelical Protestantism can't condemn.
Let me be the first to say that I'm no monk. "As someone who is an extreme interovert," comments someone smarter than I, "there is a certain fascination with the idea of going to live in a closed off cell, getting to be alone and pray, remaining undisturbed by the world." And then Shane nails it:
However I don’t think that is the purpose of the Christian life. I believe that in order to really "disappear into Christ" we must act like Christ; among people, in community, with the "least of these." To me, that’s a more challenging call than to go off and live in silence (someone who is more extroverted would definitely disagree with me!).Thomas Merton has some relevant things to say on this,
To choose the world is not then merely a pious admission that the world is acceptable.... It is first of all an acceptance of a task and a vocation in the world, in history and in time. In my time, which is the present. To choose the world is to choose to do the work I am capable of doing, in collaboration with my brother, to make the world better, more free, more just, more livable, more human. And it has now become transparently obvious that the automatic "rejection of the world" and "contempt for the world" is in fact not a choice but the evasion of choice. (Merton, "Is the World a Problem?" in Contemplation in a World of Action, p. 149; emphases mine.)For me, at this moment, seclusion wouldn't be a calling; it'd be a dereliction of duty. I need to be present in the world; need to do something there. "Transforming the world" is one of my only goals, for as far back as I can really remember; I need contemplation, but also action. (The fact that I have neither weighs on me a bit. I'll work on it over the summer.)
But the concept of pattern, rhythm, regularity, sequence? My life is a series of sequences - X, then go somewhere and Y; W before Z - interspersed with mostly wasting time on the Internet. Even when I go places, it's almost entirely because it's time for me to go there. I am a creature of sequence and inertia and force of habit. I can do this.
The idea of "regular writing" was to establish a pattern of it. Writing various things, at various places, because it was that time to do so. Once the momentum was going, it can sustain itself for as long as I'm too lazy to quit. Without trying to, over time I'd learn to write on schedule. To write well, to write constantly - to write regularly.
To write the way I'd need to be a writer.