Sometimes it takes something totally outside your wheelhouse, to get you thinking more about your own life.
This weekend it was reading about Christie’s $69 million sale of an NFT artwork by an artist that works by the name Beeple. It seems nothing about this story could be further from my life. Yet as I read on, he has a normal name, a family, and a simple artistic discipline. To create one small thing everyday. Sound familiar? Only he did it for 5,000 days, which is over 13 years. This month, by turning this body of work into a remarkable collage-turned-non-fungible-token, he reaps the rewards through this sale.
Now, I have no intention to enter the world of NFT’s. Nor do I ever expect to get rich from my art. But what I can borrow from this story is the idea of discipline.
Another example, also far from my own experience yet quite more close to home, is Suleika Jaouad. Many readers know of her Isolation Journals blog and her book Between Two Kingdoms. Currently suffering a hard recuperation from her SECOND bone marrow transplant, she is living and sharing a similar artistic discipline. Suleika warmly and generously creates a virtual community and brings anyone along who is willing to try. She plans to work at her art every day for 100 days. She writes and she paints. If she is very ill, she will paint one palm frond, one cloud. But she will lift the brush. Everyday.
Through many years I considered I had an artistic “soul” but was too busy doing other things to be an artist. I also used to imagine that the perfect creation could come like a thunderbolt at any time, to be simply captured. I dabbled. I got more serious with my writing group of teachers. I got more experience with discipline with this March challenge.
I learned that art is a muscle that requires exercise. I learned that some good work can come from a moment of utter lack of inspiration. I learned the value of trying out different things playfully, fully expecting them to be awful. I learned that I got better over eight years of writing everyday in March, and that I’m still not very good. I learned the value of having a supportive community. I learned that it is the writing that is its own reward.
Now I approach retirement from my teaching job and will never again have the excuse of time. Will I BE a writer, or not? It is solely my choice. What I now ask myself is, will I choose to live a life of writing, a disciplined life?
Years ago I printed this picture off of a blog I read by Austin Kleon. I taped it onto my bathroom cabinet door so I see it all the time. It says, “If you want to be the noun, first do the verb.” Or, you can use the short Nike version “Just DO it.” Whatever it is you choose. Over and over.


Find the original of Austin Kleon’s work at:

7 thoughts on “Discipline

  1. Wow. You bring up so many relevant points and thoughts in this slice! My brain was pinging as I read it. To your practice, your writing, I want to say that for the amount of ground you just covered, the structure of your thoughts was perfect. I stayed with you, thought with you, learned with you. Keep writing! and thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post explores the possibility and potential given more time. I love how you connect discipline throughout this slice and the verbs that would lead you to accomplish your goals. This challenge teaches so much. I’m excited about your retirement and the writing to come during this new period in your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Austin Kleon! Here’s a link to the post with the blackout poem: https://austinkleon.com/2015/07/22/the-noun-and-the-verb/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CFollow%20the%20impulse%20to%20write,than%20just%20wanting%20the%20noun.

    I love being reminded of that great line–be the verb if you want to be the noun.

    I have also been trying to think about how I can be more consistent with my writing practice. Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You bring up a very good point. And another important caveat to all this is that you never really know if you’ll ever get success, even with those years of discipline. But what it can give you is a healthy self-worth, because people will respect those with discipline regardless. Anyway, thanks for this post!


  5. I think that your reflections are spot on. Pulling from these inspirations, it’s sometimes hard to identify that creators make time to create… Your slice reminds of us of this simple truth. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love how you focused on discipline and connected so many different things to it. Love the black out poem, too! Such a great mantra. Can’t wait to see where your next act takes you!


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