Genre: Essay (Meta)
Summary: Discipline = creativity + productivity.
Date Of Completion: August 9, 2011
Date Of Posting: August 9, 2011
Word Count: 689
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Note: All essays can be found here.
It’s all well and good to dream of the Bohemian lifestyle and create without rules and regulations, but that’s pretty much what it is: a dream. Unless you’re a genius on the level of Picasso or Joyce, unfettered and undisciplined isn’t going to work.
Writing is creative and somewhat mystical in that characters take over stories on occasion and writer’s block hits and varies from person to person, some able to overcome it in days or weeks, and some with blocks lasting years. No one can explain it, and while there are tricks to overcome writer’s block, they are no guarantee that they will work every time or in the same way.
This mystery surrounding writing also makes people think that there is something there that you simply can’t understand. In some ways, that’s true, but then people carry that over to Great Art Should Not Have Boundaries.
Wrong! Did you ever watch a TV show in which one of the lead actors gets the chance to direct? No boundaries, their acting creativity is brought to their directing, and how many times have you admired this angle or this shot or how artsy and creative it is, and then realize you’re spending all your time thinking about the directing instead of the story? Unless you’re Hitchcock, a good director should never intrude upon the story. You should be paying attention to the story, not the way the light comes in through the skylight or how this actress is standing or this actor is seen from a high, overhead shot. Sure, you can note these details, but they should ADD to the atmosphere of the story, not DETRACT from it.
Writing is no different. You need certain boundaries. Boundaries are like bondage: giving you parameters that ultimately allows you freedom, and the one hard-and-fast rule that I go by is: WRITE EVERY DAY!!!
Sure, you’ll say, that’s easy for you to say. You don’t have kids and you have free time during the day or evening. What about someone who does have kids and spouses and whose free time is very limited? I don’t want to be a slave to my writing!
You can continue to make these excuses, and they are legitimate, but if the writing burns within you, you MAKE time. And that means even it’s only five minutes a day, a few sentences or a paragraph per day, you do it. And if you can snatch twenty or thirty minutes, you write at least one page a day in your notebook or on your computer screen. At the end of a year, you’ll have 365 pages.
Crack that whip! You don’t skip days. Even while on vacation, you can jot down a few sentences. Of course there are exceptions due to serious RL circumstances, illness, etc. What I mean is getting into the pattern of “Oh, I’m going out tonight,” or “I’m too busy today, I’ll get to it tomorrow.” Remember those New Year’s resolutions about going to the gym? You go faithfully every day for about a month and then start skipping days with reasonable excuses until you finally stop going altogether?
Writing is the same. Writers and artists are like athletes: the more you practice, the better you get.
But, you say, I’m writing for the sake of writing! It’s drek!
Okay, it probably is. But again, practice makes perfect. You write because you have the desire, and if you have to throw it out, throw it out. You’ll get better at it as you go along, and you’ll find yourself keeping more than you get rid of.
Rhythm is just as important to writing as it is to a musician or dancer.
Even if you’re tired or harried, grab those five minutes and write. Get yourself in the habit of writing every day, rain or shine, drek or gold. If you do a daily walking program, you don’t skip holidays and weekends, do you? So keep to discipline in your writing and you’ll find yourself improving and able to write better that you’d ever dreamed.
Next: RESEARCH AND RHYTHM