Sometimes when I sit down to write, I don’t want to. Now is one of those times. But I am trying, all the same. I am sitting here patiently, typing words, just to see what happens. I am hoping that I might soon feel like continuing. The weakest hint of momentum may just be enough to see me stick with it a while and churn a little something out. But developing the discipline to sit down when I am not inspired is not easy. It takes a lot of persistence. There are more than a few old roadblocks to break through.
I used to consider myself a promising young writer, though I mostly sat around waiting for the spark of inspiration to strike me. Occasionally a whimsical bit of verse would trickle forth, before falling prey to laziness – my base state for quite some time. I could work on something with a brief initial burst of energy, sometimes even following up with a weak second effort, but so many fine ideas fell flat simply because I could not seem to sustain any interest or discipline. I was ideologically opposed to the structure of discipline; I rebelled against its ‘necessity’. I hosted various vague and untested notions floating about my skull claiming that art should not require effort. I had grown wary of hard work, certainly not due to overexposure. But now I see the great value of structure and discipline in allowing our creativity a channel through which to flow. Seeing projects beyond their birth calls for this kind of commitment and perseverance.
I can’t yet speak from any great track-record of outward accomplishments or publications, as my writing regimen is still quite young, but I can feel the fruit of this routine ripening within me. (I think it’s going to be tasty.) Since the beginning of August, I have been rising at 5 AM every day (with rare exceptions), and after an hour of yoga and meditation (or exercise and prayer, depending who I am talking to – as if there were any difference beyond labels), I sit down at my eastward facing desk and write for three solid hours. Solid may be too firm a word. Solid is the ideal. At the outset, I would sometimes sneak away to play the odd song on the guitar. That is pretty rare now. I often look out the window and marvel at the sunrise playing on the underside of clouds. I close my eyes and breathe a lot. But staying in the seat is the goal. From 6 til 9. (Bathroom breaks are always permitted.) Over time, it has become easier to stick it out. This kind of discipline was never my strong suit, but I have found patience to be a huge ally in the battle of building will power. I can look to my simple meditation practice for developing these seeds of patience.
I have only been an ‘active’ meditator for about two years now (admittedly, on the surface it looks pretty passive – I just sit there), but the growth I have experienced is astonishing. We are all capable of developing powerful faculties we never thought possible. The trick is doing it for its own sake. As soon as you feel some pressure or obligation, the spark is often lost. Setting goals is still vital, of course, but being able to work without attachment to firm outcomes allows us to discover that the worth of the work is the work itself. This is a most beautiful revelation. We can use incentives and other tools, as we wish, but I believe it is the simple creative release of self-expression in whatever we do that truly feeds us. There is nothing else we need. That fundamental dose of satisfaction is all we are really after, whether we see it or not.
I sat here from beginning to end – from word one to right now – and despite wanting to get up many times, I stuck it out, and I am glad I did. It may not be all that cohesive – meandering much as I did while writing it, jotting thoughts and jumping back and forth to tend to open threads – but I am glad I kept writing. This is such a simple reward. Discipline when exercised feels good in and of itself. Persistence pays. Keep at it.