Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 41: Desire vs. Discipline

(side note from yesterday: I chose to submit Spirit Dust for the play competition. Why, you ask? Because when I thought about the two plays, Spirit Dust seemed much brighter and bigger in my mind. It was the don't-think-about-it answer to the question "which one?". Now, we wait.)

If you're anything like me, you crave those moments when the desire to create (or to do whatever it is that most fulfills you) is so strong that nothing else exists: the TV doesn't call to you; you manage to resist the lure of checking email; you barely register the siren calls of the fridge and/or liquor cabinet. You get so lost in what you're doing that sometimes your bladder has to blurt out a very insistent "I meant NOW" to tear you away for even a moment. Oh, but those days are tremendous.

But they are not every day. Quite the contrary. As much as I bitch and moan about not having enough time to write, I'm amazed at how often I resist writing when I do have a small window of time. I crave long expanses, where I can sink into my writing and really let the creative juices flow. The dream of those glorious multitudinous free hours - nay, days - butts up against the reality of being fortunate if I have a two or three hours free. I then spend too much of those scant few hours resenting that I don't have more and end up not getting any writing done.

How is it possible that I can want so badly to write, and yet so often have to fight the desire to instead have a glass of wine, a bowl of popcorn, and watch How I Met Your Mother on Netflix? Shouldn't the discipline just be there if the desire is there? What of all these big dreams I have if I'm just too damn lazy to spend whatever spare time I might have being creative?

I'm sure my boyfriend (and close friends and family, and likely my therapist) would tell you I'm being too hard on myself; that I rarely have any downtime, and sometimes what I really need is to just sit and veg. On some level, I believe these people are right. But I also think I sometimes use the voices of those people to justify not writing. How do I know when the voice that says "you need to chill" is the sage voice I need to heed, and when that voice is just a lazy whiny brat who needs to be put in the corner with tape over her mouth?

If I figure out an answer, I'll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, as ever, feel free to chime in with opinions/thoughts/suggestions.


  1. I haven't done any art in a couple of months for the exact same reason. It's the whiny brat. She does need a good swat on her tush, corner and tape on her mouth. Why didn't I think of doing that to her myself? She's been ruling my life of late!!!

  2. wow, this post is really good. Vulnerable, yet it's what we're all wondering about ourselves, deep down.
    Jenny Shain

  3. I know deep down when I'm lying to myself and I'm tired, burnt out, and just need a BIG glass of wine and the boob tube, aaaand when I'm just being a little brat. You're doing what makes you happy for YOUR happiness. So if what makes you happy is that glass of wine and tv, do it! If you're writing when you don't want to, it probably won't be your best or most satisfying piece. It might be just me, but maybe it's better to write when your creativity and the moment strikes you? If months from now you're still on the couch, I might have to write you a strongly worded letter, but I somehow don't think that's going to happen :-)

  4. Thanks for this! Makes me feel so not alone.

  5. Thank you all for your comments! This post seems to be having particular resonance with a lot of people -- I guess we all have little brats in our heads that we have to figure out how to deal with.

    I wish you all at least one day this week when your creative juices just flow without resistance!