Discipline: Can Art Be Rushed? (Tool #39)

This is a topic that sometimes comes up in collaborative efforts where one party in the collaboration lags behind, sometimes holding up the other parties: Can you “rush” art?  Here’s my answer:

Art requires time.  It requires alone time, thinking time, warm-up time, creation time, and even cool-down time.  It’s like going for a really long bike ride: you generally plan the route, memorize it as much as you can, spend some time before the ride warming up, do the actual ride, and cool-down afterwards.  It’s true that this process takes a lot of time–I generally only compose if I know I have 2-3 hours available to work uninterrupted.  For a funny extended version of this, watch this video of John Cleese:

BUT, I argue heavily, art requires discipline.  It is more practical than inspirational, in my opinion–I think it’s 9 parts hard work and 1 part inspiration.  Surely, art requires a lot of time, but one has to make the time for art.  Clear out your schedule, wake up early or stay up late, do fewer other things or reduce the time it takes to do them–in other words, do whatever it takes to give yourself that “art” time.  You’ve undoubtedly heard of “me” time, “on-the-clock” time at work, etc.  Make “art” time another sense of time.

By being disciplined, you can give yourself the time you need to meet deadlines (or at least get closer to meeting them), get a good, quality product by not having to rush through the creative process, and not annoy your collaborators.  I understand that everyone is as busy as ever in this age, but priorities need to be set, discipline built, and quality “art” time made.  And the best part about making this time is that “art” time is, most of the time, “you” time.  So, the discipline rewards itself eventually as you get better at your craft and do more of it with that made time.

What do you think of that Cleese video near the top, by the way?

Happy composing,


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