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Dam the Discipline

I’ve just begun to formulate some discipline around writing.  I’ve been a stream-of-consciousness-essayist until now.  Short bits, finished in one sitting. Oh,  I’ve also been a poet, and I would pour hours over the correct rhythm, the most pleasing rhyme or anti-rhyme.  I’ve been known to edit myself to death as well.  But a thoroughly developed plot with beginning, middle and end?  Only maybe once have I accomplished this, and only in outline, never in draft.

What surprised me was how exhausted I was when I finally did work straight through the hours I dedicated to disciplined writing.  Kudos to the pros, again!  How naïve of me to think that the joy of spouting out a spontaneous piece would translate to a longer work of fiction, or non-fiction for that matter.  I felt after four hours the way an actor feels after rehearsing a swordfight to the death onstage in an 8-hour rehearsal.  I know, because I used to do that, too. 

My query to myself is this: Can I handle the rigors of wringing my brain out every day?  Do I have the right diet and exercise for such an affair?  And more importantly, can I sustain the gut-wrenching process of putting it all on the page, whether I feel like it or not?  Am I a blurter or a writer?

I guess I thought I could sail through these days in the easy joy of the fun parts.  There are, undoubtedly, spurts of momentum and exuberance that feel good, and don’t leave me with a hangover.  But then there are the rough patches.  When, even if I’m on a good tear and have some great chapter starts to show for it, I still feel drained and ready to crawl into bed with a bottle of champagne, just to turn down the spout of the muse’s bounty.  I am not sure I enjoy being outright “in the flow”.  To switch metaphors temporarily, I may just need to temper the inferno of creation with some green wood. Slow it down, let it smoke instead.

Maybe that is my pace: to be less brisk in my race toward the finish line, or deadline.  Perhaps my foot on the brake, tapping lightly when careening downhill, is nourishing, the way chewing 100 times slows down gorging on dessert.  Maybe I am an addict, no matter what the substance, and in this case, it’s the rush of creation that drives me overboard.  So I have coined a new phrase to re-frame how I approach writing: Blissipline

Blissipline is the steady outlet of creative flow, more like a canal than a river.   I get to change the water level; I get to hold the boats in the lock to inspect them, and vamp until I let them continue.  It’s not just control, but it’s leveling out the uneven ground of waterfalls, which can dash my delicate fiction against the rocks and cause death.  It is a place where children can play and walk along thoughtfully without the soil breaking away with their footsteps.  Blissipline is enjoying the slower wringing out of my heart, because I can be confident that the muscle will not tear with too much ardency.  Blissipline is balance, and it is faith that mitigating my creativity will not be its undoing.  Creative energy is boundless, and applying my own pace (whatever pace I choose is healthy) is in support of me.  Without me, there is no creation.

Perhaps I am just not fit for the cross-country endurance of writing; I won’t stop, thouh, because I’ve got to keep paddling to see what’s around the bend.  But perhaps, too, I will adjust my methods over time, and become more hardy.  With enough Blissipline, I can get my feet wet to feel safe before I jump in. 

What do you think? Does abject fear fuel your creative process, or do you have need for your brakes?Image

3 thoughts on “Dam the Discipline”

  1. Love your new word “Blissipline”, I will be using it from now on. As for knowing if you have the marathon ability for writing longer pieces, I’m sure in your 8 hour rehearsals of swordfighting when you first started in your first production, you were not able to go for 8 hours of rehearsal. You did what you could, and you built up from it. Speaking from experience, the habit of writing long hours and getting everything down and time to edit and change will become easier and easier. Every marathon runner started out walking for most of the distance.

    I do love your Blissipline and how you are applying your brakes and taking care of yourself. I have in the past rode that creative flow to the detriment of my health. This is a great word and explanation of the process. I love your writing. Keep it up.

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