Monday, August 23, 2010

Self-Discipline

I thought I had at least thumbed through most books written about creativity, but somehow up until now, I had missed this one called "Creating a Life Worth Living" by Carol Lloyd.  It was written in 1997, so it isn't new.  Just new to me.  (And I am sure that there are others out there I have missed!)
I can't tell you that it's a great book yet, because I'm really only on the first chapter.  And I know how these "self-help" type books can be.  The first few chapters might be great, but then it becomes very rendundant, and what sounded so fantastic in the beginning loses it's steam when it's repeated over and over.

But so far, so good.   I  liked the first chapter, and I like the way all of the chapters are set up.  There are 12 chapters, meant to be read over 12 weeks.  What I'm most interested in, at least so far, is the interview at the end of the chapter.  In the first chapter, she interviews a painter, David Lloyd, about his creative life.

Here was the specific question and answer in the interview I found so thought provoking:

Q: Where did you learn self-discipline?

A:  I don't know if I have self-discipline in the traditional sense: paying your bills, doing the dishes, going to the studio every day and working a certain amount, doing everything you're supposed to do because you're responsible.  I don't know that I am.  A lot of artists aren't that self-disciplined.  It's kind of bullshit.  What happens is an artist gets interested in something and then they get very selfish about it and they're willing to push other things aside in their life just to follow something that they find interesting.  It's more of an obsessive quality where you want to see what happens with something.  You just keep doing it and everyone says, "Oh, gee, you're so disciplined."  Forget the fact that you have no money or the landlord's p.o.'d.  It's a matter of following what you're interested in.  Because it doesn't take any discipline to do what you're interested in.  It's a funny thing.  It takes a lot of discipline to do what you don't want to do.  And that goes back to doing what you like, doing what's fun.  That's one of the secrets to making art.  It's this weird paradox that people seem to think it's supposed to be hard and not fun and then they don't do it and they wonder why.  Well, who ever does anything they don't want to do unless they have to.

He goes on to say, "...One of the secrets of supporting yourself as an artist, whether you're young or old or anytime, is don't get too involved in a day job.  It's a rare artist that can work 40 to 50 hours a week at a demanding job and then go make art. Most people are just too burnt.  I say live as cheap as you can.  Time is better than money.  If you can figure out a way to get by, work part-time.  And most people don't believe they can do that.  They say, "Oh, you have to work 40 hours a week plus benefits and stuff..."Maybe, maybe not.  I know a lot of artists who have gotten by."

I like the way he seems to encourage taking the path of least resistance.  It's always good to be reminded of that.

If you have a favorite book on the topic of creativity, I hope you'll share it in the comment section!

13 comments:

Kate England said...

This is really interesting! I think it's pretty common too, that creative types think a lot about creativity...

A different way to phrase what David Lloyd is talking about in this interview, is to give your creative life priority?

soraya nulliah said...

Dear Kerrie-thank you for sharing this book with us. I think some of what the artist said (in the interview) is very true. It would be very difficult (if not impossible) to work full time and then have the (emotional) energy to paint/create. About the discipline part though...I find that I just do it no matter what. Whether I feel like painting or not...I just start. How are you with your songwriting? You set up that challenge of 50 songs in a certain ammount of time...can you share your process with us? I think that you would have to write no matter what. I think there is a huge misconception out there that just beacuse we are creatives, that we don't have to have discipline and hard work. It is fun too but also a lot of commitment and...hard work! THis is the process for me anyhow! Sounds like afuture blog post I want to write about! A great book on creativity is by Thyla Thwarp...I can't remember the name of the book right now but I will get it to you...it is fanatstic! BTW I loved your simple list...yes, AC for sure!! How could I have missed that one! And the library too:)

Amy said...

I'm kind of in between where David Lloyd and soraya nullian are--it takes me discipline to make myself begin working on art. Sometimes it continues to feel like work and I leave it. Sometimes I get into that obsessed mode Lloyd talks about and nothing else gets done. It's very erratic for me.

I remember that Twyla Tharp book soraya mentioned, enjoying it, but I can't think of the title either. I've read lots of Julia Cameron, and while I like her, I don't like morning pages, which are the "bread and butter" of her system. I just don't like that type of journaling. And I don't care for all of the exercises where you're supposed to write about painful episodes from your past. To me, that stuff is best left behind. And it makes art too much like work.

I enjoy "fun" art books like Keri Smith's "Wreck This Journal" and "Living Out Loud." And a writing book I really enjoyed was "Poemcrazy," by Susan Wooldridge. I'd like to check out her book, "Foolsgold" but haven't yet.

Laurie said...

This has to be the only creativity book I haven't read over the last ten years - must put it on my library list!! My favorite is "This Time I Dance" by Tama Kieves. I went through a brief but intense SARK period for a while, too. I think after coming out of the depression caused by my husband's cancer diagnosis (he's fine now, thanks!), I really needed bright colors and wild doodling.

Abby said...

Very fascinating! I don't think I have any books. I do love what I do, but I also have to make myself self-disciplined about it, because I'm not yet so good at it. I get discouraged sometimes and then I have to discipline myself to go on.

Michelle Brunner said...

I have not read any books on creativity in awhile so I will have to check this book out. I really think it is interesting what David Lloyd said about discipline. I agree that when I really like a painting I am doing it is hard to stop but when I am doing a commissioned work of art that doesn't interest me I struggle to work on it.

Lori said...

Cool- I'm interested. I do tend to read a lot of self-help books but they tend to not be creative ones which strikes me as odd at the moment! Thank you for sharing this...

Lis said...

What an interesting spin on discipline ... i see what he is saying ... although i disagree that it is easy to do what i enjoy, i find i am a master of procrastination even though the things i put off (painting, knitting, yoga) are things i love to do. actually, i am reading "Painting from the Source" by Aviva Gold which is about intuitive painting and she says we procrastinate because we believe we will get swept away by the process once we start. I can see that!

i guess i consider myself a pretty disciplined person in the sense i make time for what i know will nurture me. the discipline is me prioritizing when the world tugs at my coat tail, trying to distract me. and discipline in doing the support practices that strengthen my creative muscles.

i TOTALLY agree about the part of working part time - and feel relieved to read that statement. I am coming to a place of acceptance with my "day" part-time job; it does not fulfill me, but neither does it rob me of the energy to go home an do those things i truly love. I am realizing that is a pretty big benefit.

so far, my favorite book on Creativity is Twyla Tharp's Creative Habit.

thanks for getting my sleepy brain working!

Kolleen said...

wonderful post and great remidner from David Lloyd. i think it is hard to find that balance between doing the things we should and taking care of our needs where our creativity is concerned.

one of my fav books is "Spilling Open" by Sabrina Ward Harrison....it's her journal more or less and it is messy and real and raw.

i am reading "The Artist's Way" right now and so far so good...but honestly i am not too far into it!!

xoxo
k

suzanna leigh said...

Thank you all for your book suggestions. I find it really does help to read about how other people have approached a life of creativity. so much of what we do and how we are runs counter to everything we've been taught about how to live in the world.

My present inspiration is Mark Silver's Sufi inspired take on business development. google Heart of Business and I think it will come up. I don't know how to link to his page for you without losing this page! I haven't taken any of his classes yet or joined his online forum, but I've downloaded some things from him for free that I'm finding really helpful.

Jessie said...

Thanks Kerri, very thought provoking! xx

patty said...

Kerri, I'm so glad you are liking this book! I read it while on vacation and I am still implementing her goal-setting plan. I loved the interviews as well! Obviously, there are as many different life-styles as there are artists, but I find it so interesting to read the details of their process. And each artist that she interviews does a different type of art so I loved the variety. My new favorite book is called "Inspiring Creativity", an anthology written by various creativity coaches and edited by Rick Benzel. Really great stuff!

Jadyn said...

It sounds really interesting. Lately, I've kept thinking about something I've read, that discipline is focusing on what you really want. It was said in the context on not choosing temporary pleasure versus the things that will give longer lasting joy, even if they don't give instant gratification.
I like this take on it too, though. It's interesting how often we make excuses for not being creative, because of what we feel we 'should' accomplish in life. Maybe choosing the path of lasting joy can also involve choosing the path of least resistance. You just have to be very aware of what it is that you really want, I think.
Thanks for posting this Kerri, food for thought.