As a young actor/writer about to graduate from college, I have found myself repeating this mantra endlessly in my head, with a broken voice of fear and excitement. For the young artist in today’s culture, the opportunities for creativity are vast and expansive, while at the same time, few and far between.
A quote like this gives me comfort, however. Knowing that as long as I commit to writing and acting everyday, I will one day become one of the greats, no matter what scale it may be on.
To write everyday, or act, or do anything creative everyday for that matter, is a bit more easily said than done. When the human spirit sets out to create, a natural synergy occurs between inspiration, and what I believe to be the divine creative nature within us. Most of us view art and it’s creative process as sort of a, “whenever I’m feeling it,” sort of thing. That’s why our culture has failed recognized artists as part of the work force in the past, because creating art is not work, it’s inspiration mixed with emotions and play.
This facade is stripped away for many young artists the first time they are confronted with a writing deadline, or the first time they have to perform the same role eight shows a week for an entire year. Suddenly, our art is looking like less of a hobby, and more of an actual job. This is where the separation begins to be seen between professional artists, and a bunch of kids playing kitchen in the sandbox.
The hidden ingredient that separates the professional artist from those who are only able to do it “when they feel it” is that dreaded word, discipline.
I know exactly what you’re thinking
“Discipline? Great for athletes.”
“Discipline? Great for businessmen.”
Art was created for those kids with undiagnosed ADHD who have no discipline. And while it may appear this way, I’m sorry to say that you are wrong.
If inspiration is the spark that starts the engine, discipline is the fuel that keeps that engine running. If we as artists only rely on inspiration and our creative nature, we may have sparks of genius from time to time, but we will never reach our full potential. Discipline and dedication is key.
Thomas Edison, one of the most supreme artists of invention in the history of the world, was a master of discipline when it came to his daily work schedule. Instead of sleeping through the night like most people, Edison preferred to take various power naps every eight hours or so in order to maximize his time to invent. Leonardo Di Vinci and Beethoven were the same way. Even God, when he created heavens and the earth, did so with discipline, giving himself rest of the seventh day.
At times, an artist can ride on pure inspiration and creative spark, but when that tank runs low, the professional artist must call on the reserves of discipline to keep them moving on the road to greatness.