Thursday, January 6, 2011

Creative Discipline

Creative Discipline. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it? For the free-spirited, creative types, the word "discipline" might make you cringe. I'll be honest, it occasionally has that affect on me. But there's something to be said for a little structure. I'm not talking about a heavily regimented process. For me, discipline means making something a priority and following through with it. This means different things to different people.

Take writing, for example. If I had a dollar for every person who's told me "I've always wanted to write a book, but I'm so busy" or "I have a great idea for a book, but I don't have time", I'd be close to retirement. No kidding. And I have zero sympathy. We each have 24 hours in a day. Every single one of us. How we spend those twenty-four hours is up to us. Please don't whine and tell me you have obligations that prevent you from doing something you enjoy. We ALL have obligations. Work, family, illness, finances, I've heard it all. Guess what? Those are excuses, plain and simple. If it's important to you, make it happen.

The real trick is learning to get out of your own way. Develop a little creative discipline. If you've always wanted to write a book, sit down and write. I don't care if it's for ten minutes a day, or five hours. Just sit and write. I write about 350 days of the year. I take a day off here and there, especially if I've recently completed a writing blitz. My daily goal ranges from 1500 to 5500 words per day. The most I've ever written is 7326--trust me, it's not worth it. But I digress... The trick is making it a priority. If it's your passion, why wouldn't you?

Here are a few ideas to make it happen:
1) Schedule time for it. If you have ten minutes a day, great. 2 hours on the weekend? Perfect. The idea is to make time, however it fits into your schedule. The key is to schedule it in as often as you can.
2) Find incentive. Use a reward system. Are you trying to make a career out of it? Post visual reminders to keep you motivated.
3) Keep it fun! This one's important. If it's not fun, you've taken the discipline idea too far. When you get to this point, take a break. Avoid burnout, and come back to it when you're ready.
4) Enlist a friend. Nothing beats the buddy system. A support system is critical for motivation. Without my writing partner and best friend, I'd accomplish a mere fraction of what I do now.
5) Go back to the source. If you're a writer, read. If you're a painter, visit an art gallery. Re-visit the very things/people/places that inspired you in the beginning.

Keep in mind, there are many ways to find the creative discipline that will work best for you. I've listed a few with the hopes that it will inspire you to get moving and be creative. Get out of your own way and see what happens. Best of luck!


1 comment:

Lori said...

I love the "get out of your own way" statement. Very profound, and so true.