Monday, March 2, 2009

Writer Death Matches: Discipline vs. Devotion

Amy Moreno posted this quote from opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, and I love it:
"People think I'm disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference."---Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)

Laini Taylor also writes about another match-up in her post today: Determination versus Confidence.

Other possible writer death matches could be:

Outlining vs. Free-wheeling it

Time in Chair vs. Word Count Goals

Professional Work Ethic vs. Artistic Leeway

And then of course, the classic:

Procrastination: Now or Later?

If it seems like writers seesaw between our right and left brains, it's because we DO.  

So far, on my Work in Progress, I have tried the timed writing approach. This worked excellently . . . until it didn't.  Then I constructed an outline, which served me beautifully . . . until it didn't.  Then I decided that I needed to write 1000 words a day until the draft was done. Which worked fabulously . . . until it didn't. Now I'm back to the timed writing approach . . . which thank you, is working marvelously. Until it doesn't.  But that's okay. I'm used to it by now.  

That determination that Laini speaks of? It's what I would call strength in flexibility.  (You might call it yoga, too, if you are also obsessed with mastering crow pose and headstand, like I am.)  That's what keeps me going. That's what keeps all writers going. We bribe ourselves. We give ourselves pep talks. We set up routines. We play and we work.  We may look unfocused at times, but in reality, we are the pit bulls of the universe. We have latched onto our heart's desire and there is no way we are letting go. 

P.S. Tanita Davis is blogging about this today, too. Must be the month of March. Winter vs. Spring. Snow vs. Sunshine. Lions vs. Lambs.


  1. Wow. I like that Pavarotti quote, too. I think devotion happens when you love what you do. Discipline is what you apply when you're just paying the bills. I like my job. I really do, and I'm grateful to be able to work from home, but if I were IN LOVE with it, I wouldn't dread opening up my work email sometimes. When you are devoted to it and in love with it, time just flies, huh?

    Ever read Brenda Ueland's IF YOU WANT TO WRITE?

  2. You're right . . . there must be something in the air. I was planning a similar subject - on my blog today but did some reading first and figured you and Laini said it best and first!

    Persistence. That's my word of the day.

  3. Hee, hee. My word for the year fits in so nicely with your post. Resilience. I'm needing many cups of it today.

    Thanks for your encouragement. I needed it.

  4. This is an awesome quote! I have often chided myself for lack of discipline, but I would totally call myself devoted. What a nice pick me up for a Tuesday. I'm off to be devoted to my work...

  5. Sara, I couldn't agree more. It's like having a tool box and knowing there are times for a wrench, and times for a hammer. My *process* if you can call it that is all about figuring out what's going to get me going through the next little bit. Like you, sometimes it's freewriting, sometimes it's outlining. Brainstorming, trying to think at the story from a different angle, whatever I need to do. Sigh. Why can't it be EASIER???

  6. I'm not working on my writing, but on staying motivated to keep up the new KidLitosphere Central and it's been really hard. But honestly, I think its a combination of the weather and the economy. I also think I may not be alone in suffering in my creativity with this noxious combination.

    We've had one cold winter here, as you know Sara, but with the rare snow to be the silver lining. So many places around the U.S. have also had a tough winter. Throw the daily dire economic news on top, and how can help but be weighed down?

    Personally, I'm plugging along and hoping that Spring will bring some new energy.

  7. I love that word, devotion. There are so many implications. Love. Loyalty. Tenderness. Open-hearted truth. All things we need to bring to the page. And the mat, since you mention yoga. Good lord, the practices are similiar in the end...

  8. We are the pit bulls of the universe--I love that! When I teach classes full of aspiring writers, I so wish I could make them see that being a pit bull is what eventually bring publication--more than great flashes of inspiration or mastery of grammar or even great plotting. Not that all that isn't necessary. But if you're not a pit bull, it's still (sadly) unlikely your writing will get published. Tough business calls for both devotion and determination!


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