There is creativity in discipline and discipline in creativity.
When I was young I didn’t like discipline and I didn’t like to be disciplined. I thought that when I will grow up and will be on my own I will be able to do whatever I want. So that was my dream.
But when I left my parents’ house and moved to a bigger city, I started working and taking care of myself, and soon enough, I found out that without discipline I can’t live for not even one week.
But hey, I’m a creative person, I know how to find my way through this life even if I don’t use discipline. So why not eating whatever I want, drinking how much coffee I want, watching how many movies I want, and just do whatever I want, when I want? That was my initial thought.
But then the discipline hit me because I started working in a corporation. You have to arrive at the office before 08:40 AM, check-in with your employee badge, have an hour break to eat your food, don’t stay on social media, and don’t listen to music during the working hours and never ever go home before 05:20. Now, think about that. I worked at that place for 2 and a half hours and it just drove me crazy.
I wanted to get out of that system. I wanted to be on my own, working on my blog, organizing some events, and do some marketing consulting. The problem was that I didn’t have any experience or any start-up money and nobody knew me.
So I started working on my own side projects. I decided to start every day early in the morning, by waking up at 6 a clock to read the marketing news and write about them on my personal blog. I scheduled all my tweets and all my Facebook posts just to be published when people had the time to read articles. I went to bed early at 9 a clock because I knew that if I want to be fresh in the morning, I must be early in bad every evening.
That’s how I found out that if you want to be creative, you need to have discipline as well.
Ryan Holiday, the world-class author and media strategist wakes up every day early in the morning, reading, taking notes, writing, going for a run, doing breakfast, and starting working. Every single day. And when you see how much he is accomplishing every month, every week and every day, you understand that all these are quite impossible without discipline. And let’s be honest, he is also very creative.
When I manage to be disciplined I find myself creating more things that in the times when I just let the creativity flow.
You have to work for your creativity.
And when I say work I mean you have to invest time in your work and start creating, start exercising, start consuming others’ creative stuff, and then try to do it on your own.
Just think about the people who are doing TikTok videos and have millions of followers and viewers. I find these people very creative because they consume content, they create content, they are editing their videos based on some cultural pin-points as trending, music, impacting, and they distribute them on TikTok and other platforms. Yes, they are creative and we must respect that.
Creativity and discipline come with one more step.
That “one more step” is a must in your discipline system.
When I wake up every morning at 6 o clock I do it because I work on my creativity. And sometimes, it’s hard. There are moments when I just don’t want to wake up. There are times when I am too tired or I just had a rough time, the day before. But then I get up from the bed, make my coffee, start reading my Bible, meditate and pray and start working on my craft. Sometimes I’m writing an article, sometimes I’m doing an outline for an article, sometimes I’m doing research for my next podcast guest and sometimes I’m creating my own Instagram posts. Yes, I know that I’m doing a lot of things.
I can’t do all of these things if I’m not disciplined with myself.
There are several ways to be disciplined.
1. Have your own list
I always have my own list of creative stuff. For this, I use the note app from my iPhone that is divided on different folders based on different categories from my life; my podcast, Bannersnack, my own side projects, Instagram ideas, church, family, my personal stuff. There, I write my own ideas, my own stuff that I’m thinking about. I don’t have a morning routine where I just stay connected to the app and start pouring ideas.
Every time when a new idea pops up into my mind, I grab my phone and write it down in its own specific folder.
This method works for me and I can’t say that it has to work for you as well, but you can try a similar approach to creativity.
All you have to do is to find your own note app or notebook where you can write down your ideas.
This is a discipline that helps your creativity by saving your ideas in a specific place and visit them later, whenever you have the time to work on them. All you have to do is just open your files and have a starting point.
A lot of writers imagine that if you open a blank page, the words will just come up. It may happen for a while but let me tell you something: It won’t last for eternity.
Maybe one day you feel creative, have an idea and you start working on it, maybe the second day you feel lucky and continue working on that idea but let me tell you that on the third day there are slight chances you will manage it.
I tell you this based on my own experience.
2. Create a calendar of your work
I have a weekly calendar and a monthly calendar. I have weekly meetings with the marketing team. I have a podcast that I update with a new episode every two weeks.
I also run this blog where I want to publish quality content and be disciplined about it. And, I manage a Facebook group where I have around 600 members interested in podcasting. Oh, and let’s not forget that I also have a family and I also must do some sport to stay healthy. And, everything I do, I put in my calendar. If it’s not in my calendar and it’s not urgent, I’m not doing it.
If you are the creative type that feels likes “let’s just go with the flow” it will not be easy for you.
If you want to be a disciplined creative person, you have to be disciplined with your calendar too.
3. Create without thinking on publishing
I had the idea that every creative idea should be published. Even if I write an article, draw some stuff or do an audio episode, there is always another piece of content that I must publish. But guess what, I found out that not everything I do needs to be published the very same day.
I have articles that were written a few weeks ago that were not published yet. I have draws that I made on my iPad and I didn’t publish them as well. Not because they were a crappy art, or too personal, but because I believe that not everything we create must be published.
Even as content marketer that feels like with every new piece of content I will get one more eye ball’s attention, I don’t believe that everything we do it must be published on the world wide web.
4. Celebrate your tasks
I’m not saying that you need to throw a party just because you have completed that task that helped you with your creative path. I’m just saying that you need to find out a small simple “victory celebration” for your own.
For example, I write all my creative tasks down on my agenda every day. Every time I finish a specific task, I underline it and that’s all. I have the accomplishing feeling that I finished.
And it’s so satisfying.
5. Start small
I couldn’t make it to wake up at 6 a clock in the morning right from the first day. So I started with baby steps. In the beginning, I used to wake up at 7 for a few mornings, then at 06:45 for a few mornings, then at 06:30 and finally at 6 a clock.
I believe that a disciplined life starts with small steps.
It’s the same thing for every new thing you want to start and be disciplined about it like eating healthier, exercising more, or reading more books. I don’t deny that there may be other people who start big directly and that’s working for them. Congrats. It depends on them.
Unless you can manage that, before you start doing whatever you want to do, start disciplining yourself by learning first what kind of person you are.
Yes, you can have discipline in creativity and you can learn how to be disciplined.
But it only depends on you if you really want it or not.
Now before you close this article, share it with your creative friend and help them do more creative stuff.