This is the second part of my unnecessarily long response to Kayely’s blog post about why she dislikes projects like Blog Every Day April/August and National Novel Writing Month. Read part 1 first.
Discipline is a more important component of creativity than most of us realize. The way I see it, people who wait until they feel inspired to create art will never reach their full potential as artists. Further, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to work professionally in a creative field if you’re used to the luxury of waiting for inspiration.
Right now, most of my income comes from writing. Granted, it’s not the most creative kind writing, but it’s using combinations of words to communicate ideas. As I’ve been blessed to progress further in the field of freelancing, I've become a more disciplined writer by necessity. If your ability to pay rent depends on how much publishable content you can produce each week, you’re probably going to overcome that writer’s block really fast. If you have a book contract and a deadline, you don’t get to put your work on hold until you have a really good idea for that next chapter. You just have to do it. Dancerand choreographers face similar situations. You don’t get to put a show or gig on hold until you know you have the inspiration to do your best. You have to do your best possible work within the time frame you’re given. It’s not optional. It's your job.
I have never struggled much with discipline as a dancer, but writing discipline is a different story. I’ve already seen a dramatic improvement in my ability to sit down and pound out articles and stories without succumbing to Chronic Self-Editing Syndrome (CSES).
CSES inhibits me from writing a sentence without erasing it and rewriting it with slightly different word choice a minimum of twelve times. With CSES, an hour or two of hard work will pass before I can even get a paragraph to stick to the page. It primarily strikes when I’m working on creative pieces like short stories and personal essay and makes me so sick of whatever I’m working on that I invariably give up or put the project on hold after just a few days of trying to write the same sentences over and over again. In order to overcome CSES entirely, I’m going to take a leaf out of NaNoWriMo’s book and challenge myself to finish 25,000 words of an in-progress manuscript during the month of May. We’ll call it Make Manuscript Progress May or MaMaProMay*.
In conclusion, BEDA and NaNoWriMo and other such projects are beneficial if you allow them to be and I really hope NaMaMaProMay helps me cultivate more discipline. Lord knows I could use it.
*How many awkward acronyms and abbreviations can I put in this post?