Discipline and the Creative Practice
In summer, it is easy to do summer and little else. For the last two months, I have spent all my free time near water, or on the trail, or in a favorite coffee shop with an iced drink condensing in the heat.
But in the midst of this sweet, brief season, I haven’t made much time for writing. For ten months of the U.P. year, I rejoice in my steady, daily practice. But our summer is so sweet and so brief, and I find myself otherwise occupied.
And I think that’s okay.
A large part of my writing practice is, actually, not writing. Instead, it is about trying to see the world—clearly and without human bias. It is about moving through the world with an intention of honest existence. An intentional life is integral to my work as a writer. It is a discipline.
I’ll be honest: I worry about discipline, sometimes. I worry that what we call discipline is another tool of the market, of the ruling class, of capitalism. I worry that our discipline is just our hustle culture trying to justify its demands on our time and our energy and our hearts.
But “discipline” comes from the Latin for “pupil,” one who follows another for the purpose of learning. And that’s the test, right? When you sit down, pen (or paintbrush or six-string or or or) in hand, that’s the question. Am I doing this to further my understanding? To deepen my commitment? To hone my craft? Or am I making a product? Am I writing this poem with an eye on submission guidelines? Am I picturing a price tag?
We all need to make a living, but what do you practice that is just for you? Get reacquainted with that.
As the year turns toward autumn, I invite you to recommit to your creative practice—to your chosen discipline. Recommit to it and widen it—maybe your discipline depends on sunshine and water and iced coffee. Maybe your discipline wants you to be more fully a part of your world. Give it a try. See what happens.
-Amber & Raja
P.S. If you need some inspiration for your creative practice, you can check out our next FREE journal meet-up on Saturday, August 24 | 2:45-4:00 | Trips to the Interior: A Monthly Journal Meetup
And keep an eye out for our fall schedule—featuring more journal meet-ups along with calligraphy, block-printing, and artist books.