CAN DISCIPLINE AND CREATIVITY COEXIST?
In the past, I have spoken to people who feel discipline lives on the other end of the spectrum. Believing the gap is too wide to close, they continue and prefer a flow that doesn't invite any structure. Too much discipline can interrupt the creative flow, or it's the nemesis of creativity and diminishes the ability to problem-solve.
Then some people feel as if they can't create without it. It eliminates distraction and allows the creator to expand with a guide without too much constraint. Believing a structure can lead them through any problem. So there are two sides to discipline, neither of them being wrong. They are simply expressing the duality of its nature to either contribute or stir up chaos. Yet what if a middle could exist? Because as Edna Ferber said, "Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little."
For a minute, I believed artists shouldn't have any discipline. I thought it was uncool and suffocating. I even championed being free from any bounds and loved every bit of it. In the beginning, I enjoyed the liberation of creating. All artists should explore this when they start. There's an opportunity to know who you are as an artist and what mediums you like to have time to better your technique or point of view. Ultimately, there should be long periods of play. Yet the work piled on, I had less time to finish passion projects, and I felt disconnected from my "why," which was concerning me. I had to eventually learn that avoiding any grit because it's foreign-made perpetuates the inevitable occurrence of burn-outs or creative ruts.
So I started to build up my version because, as a self-employed artist, my frame of mind about the two needed to find joy in both of them. A flexible system that's separate from my creative flow but still lends itself as a multifunctional tool. For me, discipline came packaged up as a timer, a schedule block-out, a goals list, waking up earlier, taking walks, and so much more, dependent on the need. Over time discipline became an opportunity to shape my mind for a better approach, cultivate a sense of ease, and be flexible to either be tugged or pushed because I've accepted creativity is a non-linear, super-balanced act.
Discipline began to feel neither daunting nor all that I needed to succeed. It felt like a unique perspective that makes my craft and time much more valuable. It reinstates my ability to shape the areas needing improvement. That's what discipline can do.
Since this pivot, my sense of creativity has not been interrupted; if anything, I feel the most creative.
My focus has divided itself into working, playing, or both. This workflow, where I reward myself with more time to create my ideas and express my artistry, has been a game changer for my productivity. For my mental health, I've realized how less anxious I am and experience less panic at home.
All that to say, yes, the two can co-exist. Discipline doesn't have to be what society defines it as. So if your approach needs reframing, I'd recommend challenging yourself to work with different mediums. In return, it'll show you what you can build to help maintain it as you push the needle.
Here are some questions I still ask and answer when I'm entering a new space:
How do you find your method? I keep exploring.
Is there something you've never tried? Hell yeah, time to get going.
Do you want to get better? Then practice.
Okay, those are my two cents that no one asked for, but if you want to continue the conversation,
feel free to either comment below or email me at: email@example.com