“The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more.”
Twyla Tharp THE CREATIVE HABIT
I agree with Twyla Tharp.
I think art for some of us has to be a kind of determined,
intentional creative habit that we submit to willingly.
I think habit is the right word for me.
But it is a habit that we have to hook ourselves into.
We have to manufacture our own psychological twitch.
We have to lace our own blood with the gnawing, clawing,
need to sit down and knuckle under.
This is what keeps the writer writing all the way
to the final words THE END.
Inspiration is involved. Magic is part of it.
Sometimes we need that whisper-that breath of the muse to wake
up imagination. After all what good is writing that is not inspired.
But Inspiration disappears pretty quickly when the work gets hard.
When the idea on the page starts to melt into a confused mess.
When fear and self doubt start their yammering.
But you can rely on good old habit and discipline and yes routine.
They will see you through the hard part.
At least that is how it is for some of us.
When we wait for the muse to inspire us–
or we wait for an opportunity–
to be invited, discovered, adored, chosen–
we can wait a long time.
If I relied on those things I wouldn’t write much at all.
Some people say they need a deadline.
I used to say that.
I said it because I thought it was true.
I thought I needed the pressure and the structure to
call forth my undisciplined mind to do my work.
I don’t think it’s true.
It’s just that deadlines scare me into submission.
And that is the key factor folks.
I need to surrender.
I need to come humbly to the work.
I need to bow my head and submit to the demands of the work.
Think about it.
The deadline causes us to comply.
We obey. We apply ourselves to the task.
You know it’s funny–but when actors and writers
are invited to send an example of
their work–in the actor’s case to audition–
in the writer’s case– to send a manuscript,
these are the words that are used.
CALL FOR SUBMISSION
This is usually interpreted as an opportunity to deliver–
to offer– for consideration.
Don’t be fooled. That is not what it means.
We are being invited to chain ourselves to our heart’s desire and do the work.
I believe that I need to come humbly and submit every day.
It is not my talent or my experience or my great idea–
that will write my play. No it’s my creative habit.
Some days my talent seems negligible, my idea muddy and unfocused.
I can’t rely on such ephemeral notions.
It is the daily submission to my creative habit/discipline/devotion
that will put words on the page.
Resistance as Stephen Pressfield calls it in his amazing books–
will show up. You can believe that.
Resistance he teaches is the inevitable opposing force to any creative act.
But I am cultivating an addiction to my creativity that will defeat resistance
like a smoking addiction will defeat a smoker’s good sense.
That is why I am sitting here on this brilliantly beautiful day,
tapping away at a blog post that few will
read. I am enslaving myself to my creative habit.
It’s a beautiful sunny day in rainy Vancouver and I know
that soon our endless rainy weather will be upon us–
but here I am writing instead.
I want to be so addicted to this that I will get the
shakes if I don’t write five pages a day on my play.
Oh and speaking of Twyla Tharp here is something of what her
Creative Habit has produced.