Saturday, June 16, 2007
Discipline and Joy
There are two things that I strive to do almost everyday: write and exercise. The inclusion or exclusion of these two activities completely affects my mood and mindset for that day.
The writing spectrum is broad. Anything from writing in my journal, collaging images and words, starting a first draft, or snipping an older piece into a finished draft is considered to be a valid attempt at working with words for that day. My newest journal is a large book-bound sketchbook that holds both journal entries and collages. I absolutely love it because the pages are made of thick acid free paper, and I no longer have to cross reference collage work with my journal entries. Yes, I used to do this to clarify some meaning in case it was not understood in one medium without the other.
Writing is such a lonely thing. Writers know this, and we can choose to embrace it or stop writing. But there are ways to gather forces in this loneliness in between the solitude required for this practice. Recently, my writer’s group extended our lovely fingers and imagination into meeting once a week for sit down writing sessions. We meet at random cafes, talk for about 5-10 minutes then we shut up and write. Sometimes the sound of the pen scratching out plays, and keyboards clicking away at new stories and essays makes me feel like I am going to jump up and start whooping. It is the sound of creation, of honoring what we promised to give ourselves in that moment.
We get so much done that each time we walk away in a daze of wonder and confusion. I ask myself, “How did this happen?” I have a wicked case of ADD and often have a hard time working on one thing for more than half an hour. I think the magic comes from the synergy of being able to sit in the same space to do what we know will sustain us for that day. The sit down sessions are a container, a witness for this type of creative action. It is pure joy.
Starting this blog has helped me not only honor my writing and share it, but it has made me pay attention to my experience and interactions. I listen carefully and see where threads of images, ideas, or sparks will take me.
Erich Fromm wrote in the book, The Art of Loving:
“First of all, the practice of an art requires discipline. I shall never be good at anything if I do not do it in a disciplined way; anything I do only if ‘I am in the mood’ may be nice or an amusing hobby, but I shall never becomes a master in that art… one’s whole life must be devoted to it, or at least related to it.”
“It is essential, however, that discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, but that it becomes an expression of one’s will; that it is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to a kind of behavior which one would eventually miss, if one stopped practicing it.”
I am trying to do this: to find joy in the practice and discipline instead of getting in my own way or obsessing about the finished product. With this said, I also want to be a master of writing.