Inspiration and Discipline

If you haven’t been to Susan Bono’s Tiny Lights website lately, visit her online Searchlights and Signal Flares for a little mid February inspiration (  Susan’s got a few upcoming questions to get a writer’s juices flowing.


From the archives: on 5/15/2005 her website asked, “Which is more valuable, inspiration or discipline?”  To which I replied:

Inspiration and discipline are both precious currency to the creative soul, and they’re flip sides of the same coin.  Inspiration comes from inspire, to breathe in.  Discipline means to teach or to make oneself a disciple, at least in the Thirteenth Century sense of the word.  Merriam-Webster says another century passed before discipline meant training, self control, and, yes, punishment.

Therefore I think of inspiration as breathing in and discipline as breathing out (becoming disciple to one’s creation).  We take in the images that excite our senses; we set them free by releasing them to paper.  And so we make room in our hearts, souls, and minds for more images.  As George Harrison said of songwriting and recording, “We had to get to the studio to record our songs so we could, you know, write more songs.”

My creation is best done in the morning, before the world has had its coffee and come fully awake.  Getting to my desk before breakfast isn’t an act of penance, performed wearing cloak and cowl.  I do it to exhale what I’ve seen, heard, and felt:  the ghostly flight of the barn owl, the voice of my beloved, the smile in my daughter’s eyes, the warmth of a river in late summer.  Releasing these images gives them—and me—space to do more work.  Without the discipline of creation, the inspiration stays stuck on the inhale.



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2 responses to “Inspiration and Discipline

  1. So simple yet so concise! What insight. Thank you for your words. The new blog format is right.

  2. Merci JCL! There seems to be no giving up, mais non?

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