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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On Discipline, Priorities, and the Creative Process

“Most people say their main fault is a lack of discipline.  On deeper thought, I believe that is not the case.  The basic problem is that their priorities have not become deeply planted in their hearts and minds.”
--Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

If I’m honest (and I always am, except when I only pretend to be), another reason I’ve been down on myself lately has been the lack of results with my writing.  While I’ve had many things throw me off my stride lately, from illness to jury duty to familial visits, the bottom line is that I haven’t been making progress on my dragon novel.  As much as I itched to write something else, I told myself this year that I wouldn’t start a new story until I had finished the old one.  Yet somehow, I ended up plowing most of my creative energies into blog posts, and devoting less and less to revising, editing, and finishing my novel.

Creation is the fun part of the process.  I may wrack my brain to create my way forward each day, but when I finish that rough draft, I also recognize that more work in needed.  I suppose that’s the difference between a dilettante and a professional: the professional finishes what he sets out to achieve.  He perseveres through the drudgery, and pushes past the tedium.  Only then can his work be revealed as the ultimate culmination of his efforts.

And yet, an author writes.  An author creates.  An author invents.  Or, I think, a little part of him dies.  I think that’s also part of what's been bothering me lately, aside from my lack of results.  And so, this week, I’ve assigned myself a new goal: to start off the day by writing a page of a new novel.  There’s an idea that’s been kicking around in the back of my mind.  I wrote up an outline for it a couple years ago (and revised it!), before setting it aside to concentrate on another story.  I haven’t found that outline yet, so I’m starting with the basic concept, and pushing my way forward.  I had several interruptions to my schedule today, but I still wrote a page of my new story, practiced the piano, and wrote this post.  In the coming weeks, I want to build upon this new model, to write at least a page of my new novel in the morning, and then spend time each day revising my dragon novel.  I know that I’m dedicated to my writing, even if I’m not always as disciplined as I should be.  This is an attempt to restructure my priorities so that I accomplish them.  Hopefully, this new plan will help.

At the very least, they say that change is good for the soul, don’t they?  And I do feel good about my new direction, so that’s something, I suppose.

Tomorrow, if I can, I’ll talk about one of the novels I’ve read lately.  I’d enjoy that.  Hopefully, you will too.

Dragon Dave

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