The artist and the mule.

Climbing out of a black hole after a sickness… can be a difficult thing to do….still coughing like a champion smoker..on antibiotics round number 2….wondering what kind of character I’d make in a book. I don’t recall using common illness in fiction. It’s so dull.

Two nights ago, a series I love, Writer’s Confession aired. I’ve blogged about this series before – if you ever have the opportunity to catch some it, do. It gives such a great connection, listening to succesful authors discuss the insanity of the craft. The parts of it that we question, and wonder if this is right – Should I feel this way? From what I’ve noticed writers love to talk about the craft, but they don’t like to talk about how this craft makes them feel.

I happened to catch a discussion about discipline. I was surprised by their answers.

Most said they were not disciplined at all. One author said she was obsessed. This obsession kept her coming back to her book, not discipline. Another said she was addicted to writing. She too claimed no discipline at all. Another voiced his opinion that it’s his innate perfectionism that keeps him going.

I have to admit, I’ve thought this myself. All of the above in truth. Yet……there are moments when the obsession dies, or the addiction abates, or I no longer care about perfection. At those moments, it is discipline that kicks in, that brings me back to my laptop and makes me work.

I could not help but wonder if creative people loathe categorizing their ‘creations’ with work. That by admitting writing is work diminishes the romance of it, the ethereal aspect of it. For me, writing when I don’t want to is work, hard, gut-wrenching work. Teeth pulling work. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Thankfully, those painful moments are few in between, but they exist, and without discipline, well I just wouldn’t write.

What about you – are you a disciplined writer?

Are you an artist or a mule?Β I’m definitely both.

18 thoughts on “The artist and the mule.

  1. Well, I prefer not to think of myself as a mule, but apparently I am. πŸ˜‰ However, I think it’s that obsession with writing, the pleasure I feel when I’m writing, that drives that mulishness.

    As the mule has prevailed over the years, the ratio of teeth-pulling to enjoyment has shifted so that I would say teeth-pulling is less than 70%

    1. How’s this, commenting on my own comment?? πŸ˜‰
      What I meant to say is, the teeth-pulling is more or less 30% and the 70% is enjoyable because I’ve learned how to get into the flow more quickly and I’ve learned the pleasures of re-writing and editing.

    2. Cathryn, my Chinese horoscope is an ox. I was mortified by this, but it’s a good thing!! lol
      I used to despise editing, it was work. REal work. But I’ve come to love it now. 70 to 30, good ratio!

  2. I’m the most undisciplined writer/person I know. From forcing myself to open my novel and not write another short story instead to diet and exercise, I suck at it all. I’ve tried to change me. Nothing’s worked. I must accept my behavior flaws for what they are and know nothing will happen quickly for me.

    I don’t know where that falls–artist or mule–but I’ll call it Jackass.

  3. I’m a disciplined writer until I have to do something I don’t want to do. Like finish the edits to the book I’m working on now…or should be working on now. Rather than working I like I should be right now, I’m talking a walk down the lane and checking me emails as I go. Talk about procrastinating those edits. LOL

  4. I have to say I am disciplined. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing, life is just so busy and chaotic lately lol. But I need the words. I love the process. I want it. So I’m passionate and obsessed and addicted, but also disciplined. Like you, when the other things fail to bring me to the writing, it’s the discipline that gets me in the seat πŸ™‚

    1. I think JC that this is the most difficult time I’ve had yet trying to keep the discipline up, but also when to let it slide. When we’ve been sick for weeks, or haven’t slept, or the baby just won’t go down, I need to slacken off the discipline. It’s so hard. That mommy balance!

  5. Most days I am forced to be the mule. There are those rare spots of light when a scene finally clicks into place and I’m so excited to finally have it figured out I have to write it before I forget.

  6. In my case, it’s a weird sort of discipline. In general, I’m not a disciplined person, yet I’m dead serious about learning the craft. I write something nearly every day. Actually, it’s only on days that family obligations keep me too busy to sit down at the computer that I don’t write. So that’s discipline.

    I believe in inspiration, The Muse, or whatever you want to call it, but writing is work. Plain and simple. And if you don’t think it is, I’d be very surprised if you’re doing it right.

    1. I think so too, Linda. There is the creation, the wonder, the magic, and there’s the work. That’s why I was so surprised to hear these authors say otherwise. Literary authors as well.

  7. I wouldn’t describe myself as a disciplined writer. Some days I just don’t fit time into my day for writing, I know I should and I want to, but it just doesn’t happen. Other days I’ll spend hours working at it.

  8. I wish I could be more disciplined. I think in the end it’s guilt about not having written anything that makes me finally turn on the laptop at ten o’clock at night.

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