Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Making Art Without "The Mood"

I was reminded again today that doing art is most often about working and practicing when the mood or inspiration isn't striking. It's about the day to day, as oft-quoted Jane Yolen put it, of "Butt In Chair". Writing and painting when you DON'T feel like it, practicing a craft to become great is just like atheletes working out for hours a day. Oh god, did I just use a sports metaphor? I hate sports metaphors, but you get the idea. Other people work hard hours practicing to become good at what they do, I don't know why we think art becomes "stiff" or "formalized" if you do it when not in the mood because there's a presupposition that it should be this magical process of some muse taking over our body and producing Art. Maybe it's just a lot of hard work. Maybe we use the tired phrase of needing "inspiration" as and excuse for procrastination. If I only wrote when a thunderstorm struck and I had the perfect cup of coffee while listening to the perfect piece of music for that shining moment when I was really "in it", I'd write maybe ten pages a year.

I'm trying to get into the discipline of writing a 1,000 words a day, or about 4-5 pages, but then again, I'm in the kick-it first draft writing phase right now, so it's the get-words-into-the-blank-pages kind of writing and play around to mold it later. Pages produced, in the right 'voice' (voice being the new Big Idea affecting my writing lately). I'd say that's my primary focus right now.

Oh, and you know, grad school. Which is starting to really rock my socks off, as far as the things I'm learning. The classes themselves are still not uber-great, but all the reading I'm doing is really awesome - pushing the boundaries on my thinking kind of stuff. Both classes are challenging me with new ways to see the world and humanity. I could go off on all this stuff, and maybe I will soon. But today I mainly just wanted to express the thought: making art has to be a discipline just like everything else. The discipline should certainly be mixed in with some love and ethos, but nothing will ever get done without Butt In Chair.

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