On Discipline and Creativity


The Romantic notion of creativity has been a dominant idea in my life. In my understanding of Romantic creativity the impulse should be natural and the ability inherent, when the feeling moves or muse speaks then and only then can meaningful work be completed. I have since learned Romantic creativity is not an absolute, rather it exists as one of several, constantly dancing possibilities for meaningful creative work. Work is the real absolute when it comes to creativity, and the disciplines it takes to develop skills and taste are real and take time.

Recently I have begun the first ten minutes of my day (after coffee) sitting with an idea book. I write down the spontaneous thoughts and images that come to me in the morning haze, sometimes nothing forms. I don’t try to judge the ideas which come, I let them rest on the page. I also take this little book with me through the day, in case another thought forms in me. Then, some time in the evening after dishes have been done and our son has been put to bed, I revisit the ideas I wrote during the day. I dedicate a fairly good chunk of time to the ideas that stand out. I flesh out the ideas in a different notebook, or on this website. They take shape beyond the initial Romantic formations in my head.

These last few weeks the forms have been ideas for blog posts, but a few children’s book projects have been born on the pages of my notebooks. I hope to share more about these in the coming months as I find time to explore the stories and ideas behind my initial inspirations.

It feel like falling when following a creative career. The trick is to learn the skills and disciplines it takes to get work done. Some of the most hard working people I know are cartoonists. They are an industrious bunch and I have been so blessed to be friends or acquaintances with many of the best new voices in the medium. Charles Schulz was famously quoted in a response written to a fan who wanted to be a cartoonist, “It’s 99% hard work and 1% talent.” I think we all have at least 1% talent in something. It’s just a matter of finding little disciplines to pour more of our creative time into the “hard work” category.

What sort of disciplines or daily rituals help you in your creative work? I would really want to know.

Happy hunting.

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