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Does discipline have a place in overcoming writer’s block?

Last night, with friends, it came out that most of the artists felt that they relied on inspiration, sometimes working several days without sleep, and some becoming psychotically manic as a result.

I argued that you can turn inspiration on and off with practice. If you have to wait for the right mood to write, paint or compose, you will be not very productive.

It comes up because some people– some of the same people– stay in bed, if that’s their mood, but it is nearly always accompanied by self-hatred.

I also have chronic pain and there are days I do not want to get out of bed.   I do anyway.

What I’ve discovered is that the mood often comes as a result of starting an activity.  I can write a draft of a poem and put it down, knowing that when I come to it tomorrow, by the times I work for fifteen minutes, the inspiration comes back.  And, of course, anyone writing a novel knows that it is not possible to write it in spurts, without losing control of it. Instead you need to stop perhaps like Hemingway, in the middle of the next sentence.  But it does sound like a workable system.

Toying with one’s sanity in order to complete a work of art is very risky– and I think, most irrelevant– behavior.

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