Practise and passion make you a good creative. Discipline makes you exceptional.
Think of it like forging steel. To make anything happen, you need that fire burning already. It needs to be white hot – that drive and reason and passion to create, purely for its own sake and satisfaction. The more time you invest, the more you stoke the fire.
The raw materials aren’t guesswork either. Steel’s made with set percentages of iron and carbon; often alloyed with other metals for different uses. It takes knowledge and experience to bring these ingredients together in the right amounts, and it’s the same when you create. You need to know the ingredients, and the principles to use them. You need to know what goes into the mix – whether it’s sentence structure and punctuation, clean notes and chords, or colour theory and the rule of thirds.
Firing the right elements at the right temperature creates a great end result – but a block of forged steel isn’t useful as it is. No one’s going to pay for it – they want finished goods.
So, you take what you’ve made and fire it again. Heat, soften, shape. Edit, refine, perfect. Again, and again. Over and over. Discipline is the hammer and the anvil – it’s hard and jarring and sparks can fly. It isn’t easy at first, to finish work and get straight to work again at home. It’s not nice to crawl out of bed at stupid o’clock. It’s also the only way you’ll make a living from what you create. But hour by hour, day by day, it makes you tougher, and better, and proud.
Ok. We’re done with the manly steel metaphor. Now we can sigh, and nod (just a small nod), and peel off our Tom Selleck moustaches, and wipe our sweaty brows. Or leave the tash on. It’s a good look for you.
Anyway; discipline. You’re the one working when everyone else is asleep. You’re the one practising and refining while everyone’s out, because it’s your obsession and it’s what you have to do. If you’re introverted, it’s with very good reason – there’s something pulling you in to think, and create, and get to work. Go with it.
Let others be happy with the nine-to-five. You’re aiming for something more. Every late night, every early morning; pounding and hammering and beating on your craft.
Practise discipline as the foundation for what you create – a daily timetable, and the willingness to beat yourself up if you don’t perform – and you’ll find that sense of mastery you want so much.
And, when that mastery starts to happen, there’s no greater feeling in the world.