Positive Writer

This blog is about overcoming doubt and creating work that matters!

Use Discipline to Cultivate the Creative Flow

Note: This is a post by Stacy Claflin, a mother by day and an author by, well, very early in the morning! She’s currently penning the The Transformed Series. Connect with Stacy at her blog and join her on Twitter.

Discipline vs Creativity OR Discipline and Creativity?

Discipline is often thought to be the opposite of creativity. The reality, however, is that the right kinds of discipline can help spur on creativity in new and exciting ways.

writing-discipline

Often, I speak with aspiring authors and one thing that many of them have in common is that they tend to wait until inspiration hits before they sit down to write. They want the internal muse to start singing and dancing before they create the art. I’m not speaking poorly of anyone. I remember going through that phase myself.

I also talk with lot of published authors, some of whom are extremely successful and I can’t think of a single one who waits for a wave of inspiration.

What do the published authors have in common?

Schedule

They all have a set writing schedule that they adhere to. They have either found the time that best fits their schedule or they make their schedule fit around their best time of day to write. However they do it, they make sure that it happens.

Creating art doesn’t just happen.

(Tweet this if you like.)

In my case, the best time for me to write is when everyone else is sleeping. It’s dark, it’s quiet, and I’m able to work without interruption. So I write between the hours of 4-6am. And no, I’m not a morning person. But I’ve trained myself to wake up early and start writing. The first thing that I started doing was setting my alarm five minutes earlier each day. The thrill of writing so many words each day keeps me getting up early six days a week.

Success inspires more success.

(Tweet this one, too.)

Preparation

Published authors prepare before writing. No matter what type of art you create, you must prepare yourself. If you’re going to throw a pot on a wheel, you don’t sit down at the wheel hoping that clay will hop on and form into a vessel. You first need to prepare the wheel, grab some clay, throw on an apron, and plan out what you’re going to make.

Writing is the same way. Even the most talented writer who sits down in front of blank page (or screen) will have trouble typing out words with no groundwork laid.

Plotting

The authors who write the most words per day swear by plotting—outlining, writing story beats, or whatever you want to call it. My personal method, which has me writing 1,000 words per half hour at my fastest to date, is to write a very rough outline for the entire novel before I write a single word.

Then each day, when I’m done with my daily writing, I jot down a couple paragraphs about what I need to write during my next writing session. In my case, a couple of paragraphs is more than enough for me get out 2,000 words. The process is different for everyone. Some writers outline one sentence per every hundred words they write.

It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you figure out what works best for you.

Education

Learning about your craft is important. Why reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to? I don’t want to reinvent anything! I want to spend my time creating. It’s an exciting time that we live in: Information is at our fingertips, and it takes little to no effort or cost to learn something new every day.

Message Boards or Groups

Joining a group of your peers – or those who are where you want to be – is a wonderful way to increase your knowledge! Do a google search for message boards on your topic of interest or search for Facebook groups. Use your imagination and soon you’ll be sitting at the feet of people who are making a living at what you dream of doing.

Blogs

Do you know how many experts and professionals give away information on daily basis? A lot of them! Start searching or asking around and follow some prominent bloggers. Get their email notifications and follow their advice. You can sign up for updates from Positive Writer in the sidebar to your right, or below.

Podcasts

Another great way to learn about becoming more productive in your creativity is to listen to podcasts. Reading words on the screen is not the only way to learn. We all learn through more than one of our senses, so hearing about your craft can make a deeper impact on what you learn.

You can also learn in different settings. I love listening to podcasts while I’m in the fresh air, throwing the ball for my dog. Being outside opens up our senses and can help us learn more easily. If I worked outside the home, I know that I would use my commute time for listening to podcasts. Be creative – that’s the point, isn’t it?

Online Courses

If you’ve been to college, you know how expensive education can be. I graduated over a decade ago and I’m still paying off those debts. An online course is nowhere near the cost and you can learn so much from them. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend Tribe Writers and Story Cartel.

I’d love to hear from you.

What are your thoughts on discipline and the creative process? Have you tried it? Was it effective? If you haven’t given it a try, do you think that it’s holding you back? Share in the comments.

About Stacy Claflin

I've been writing and telling stories as long as I can remember. As a kid, my story telling would get me into trouble when I would try to convince other kids that my stories were real. When I'm not busy writing, I spend a lot of time with my family. I run a preschool from home and homeschool my kids. I’m the author of The Transformed Series and my blog StacyClaflin.com. Connect with me on Facecbook and Twitter.

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Writer's Doubt the Book
  • http://kelsey-says.tumblr.com/ Kelsey Sunstrum

    This is so true, and so relevant to me at the moment. Last night, I did a rough sketch of my week and how my hours would be divided based on the projects I currently have on the go. I wondered if it was going to put a damper on my creativity, as you mentioned in your post, but really, what I think it will actually give me is peace of mind and the motivation to write.

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      Hi Kelsey,
      That was the reason that I was initially hesitant to try outlining my fiction. Rather than finding it restrictive, I discovered that it game me freedom since I gave myself permission to let the story go elsewhere if it needed to.

  • Nancy Bouwens

    Stacy- Great reminder to stay connected, keep learning and most of all write write and then… write more. The muse will stay asleep if we do not purpose to rouse him from his slumber!

    Blessings
    Nancy
    http://www.simplyabundantlife.com

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      Hi Nancy,
      Yes, we have to write and not give up! Sometimes it may be a struggle (and it will at times) but if we keep at it, the habit we build will keep us going and make us stronger!

  • http://www.TrueSpiritualAwakening.com/ Steve Rice

    Stacy…so good to see u here. You know how much I admire what you are doing. Your discipline motivates me to focus and be more diligent about the work that I do. Thanks for the helpful tips and advice specific to writing.

    I’m in the middle of “plotting” my next book…even though it’s nonfiction these tips are helpful.

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      Hi Steve. Thanks for stopping by. I’m excited to hear more about your next book. I agree, I think these tips work well for both fiction and nonfiction. We need to be disciplined to inspire the creative process either way!

  • Brenda McGraw

    Thanks Stacy. I love the idea of writing your thoughts down even before the next day so you can be ready to start. I will jot my thoughts down but still sometimes don’t know where to start. Although I’m still not an early riser, fortunately I have time during the day right now to write. Thx for your helpful ideas. Blessings to you! Stop by my site and see me sometime. Have a great day.

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      Hi Brenda,
      Knowing what I’m going to write before I start writing helps me to write a lot more. Even if I don’t know exactly what I’m going to write, or if I veer off course, just having the direction makes a huge difference.

  • http://www.rawstorylife.com/ Lorna Faith

    I’ve been working from my outline for Book #2 in my Historical Romantic Suspense series. Outlining has really been a big help. However, I’ve never tried jotting down a couple of paragraphs in preparation for the next writing sessions …but that sounds like a great idea. I think that would really help me to get more words in. Thanks for the great post Stacy!

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      Hi Lorna,
      Since I’ve been doing that, my productivity has improved by a long shot. On the other hand, on my “off” days when I start with no plan, I am typically discouraged by how little I wrote that day.

      • http://www.rawstorylife.com/ Lorna Faith

        Thanks Stacy! It really makes sense … don’t know why I didn’t think of doing that before ;( Sounds like most days, you write tons of words. I’m inspired!

        • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

          Lorna,
          It actually took a while to convince me that I needed to any kind of outlining at all. After hearing many successful authors say how necessary it is, I finally decided to try it. Now I’m just as much of a proponent as any of them! Although, I think my process is much more loose than average. Everyone has to figure out what level of outlining works best for them.

  • Pingback: Can Discipline Inspire the Creative Flow?

  • Joel

    Great article Stacy. Wow, 4-6am every morning. That’s impressive. I too find the the early morning the best time to write, although a little later than you admittedly! Reading the work of other creative people in your niche is a great way to get ideas and jumpstart your creative process. Podcasts are one thing I haven’t tried. Thanks!

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      Hi Joel,
      Yes, it’s early, but I’ve grown to love it…most of the time! :) Podcasts are a great way to learn more about the craft and the business!

  • http://www.marilynluinstra.com/ Marilyn Luinstra

    Thank you Stacy

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Marilyn.

  • http://keepupwiththeweb.com Sherryl Perry

    Hi Stacy, It’s good to see you here as a guest blogger at the Positive Writer.I find this article very motivating. As a blogger, I sometimes don’t think of myself as a writer. I tend to look at my writing skills more as a tool than as a skill.

    After reading this, I realize that I should approach my blog as you suggest and set aside a specific time for writing. I’m going to give that a try that. I’m also going to start thinking of myself as a writer not a blogger. :) Thanks!

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      Hi Sherryl,
      I think that setting a schedule for blogging is an excellent way to improve blogging. I’m so glad you found this motivating! :)

  • Sue Price

    Hi Stacy. nice to see you here. I must confess as a blogger I too often wait for inspiration. Of course what you say is correct you need to have a schedule. Getting up at 4 is some achievement when you are not a morning person so well done! I can get up early in summer but I struggle in winter.

    I am sure you have to prepare before you start as well. Good on you for sticking with and working on your dream.

    Sue

    • http://stacyclaflin.com/ Stacy

      Hi Sue,
      I’m guilty of waiting for inspiration in my blogging as well. I need to apply more of my own tips toward blogging. Since I blog less than I write fiction, I tend to push it off too easily.

  • stevetheowl

    Great post, Stacy! I must admit that I have waited for inspiration more for my blog lately, but I have been working on a novel, and I have noticed that, once I decided to just start writing, there were days where I would hammer out eight to ten pages in hardly any time at all. It seemed like the discipline of writing a little helped me get to the point where things just flowed. As I reminded a friend who is also looking into writing, a book I read about writing noted that one page a day equals a novel within a year.

  • Adrienne

    Hey Stacy,

    Now you know that I blog but I still don’t consider myself a writer. Because I do love what I do I don’t have issues coming up with what to write about. There might be times though that I’m just not in the mood to write and because of that the words don’t flow as well. One of my issues with that is I wait until the day before my post is due to write so if that strikes me at that time I’m in deep trouble.

    I always told myself I’d love to be a fictional writer but I can’t come up with great story ideas. It’s just not in me I’m afraid but I think it would be so cool to be able to do. I so admire you for what you’ve accomplished.

    Great share Stacy!

    ~Adrienne

  • http://inspiretothrive.com/ Lisa Buben

    Hi Stacy, I wait for inspiration most of the time. If it doesn’t come I go looking for topics via reading other things or going for a walk and then it will hit me. Most of the time it hits me in the shower. I like you, love to write between 4-6 am – I rarely write in the evenings. I love going with the natural internal flow :)

  • http://www.williambutler.ca/ Bill Butler

    Hi Stacy,
    Much of my inspiration comes from the natural beauty we are surrounded. We are surrounded by mountains, many of them snow-capped, pristine lakes and wetlands, an abundance of beautiful animals. I write every day, and I particularly feel inspired after a walk in the fresh air. Usually the wee hours of the morning or waking-dream moments are best, but I also find myself scribbling notes throughout the day.

    All the best!
    Bill

  • http://www.donnamerrilltribe.com/ Donna Merrill

    Hi Stacy,

    Because I just love to blog, I do carry around an old fashioned pad and pen to write things down when inspired. I tried to do it on my IPhone, but, well, I’m just not savvy for that.

    Because I’m passionate about blogging and internet marketing for so long now, I view the whole world with that mindset. I can walk into a coffee shop for instance and think of how they can get a good ROI if they were marketing online.

    I guess I get inspired by just about everything lol! But I do have to write it down to remember so I can then write about it.

    -Donna

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