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Creativity vs Discipline: How to Use Them Together

Creativity and discipline are two very different things. Creativity is the ability to come up with new ideas, while discipline is the act of sticking to what you have already established. Discipline can be a good thing but creativity without it will not succeed. It’s time for us all to explore our creative side and learn how we can incorporate this into our lives!

Creativity Is Instinctive

Creativity is instinctive, discipline is learned. Creativity springs from an unconscious place we all share; it’s the source of our originality.

Discipline is about taking control of our actions and using them to get the best results.

Creative skills and creative ways can be learned: however, creativity arises spontaneously as we experiment with the world and find new ways to make it work for us. Discipline, on the other hand, is a matter of learning rules and applying them; it requires effort and practice.

Discipline without creativity leads to rote memorization; creativity without discipline leads to distraction and chaos.

They’re two sides to the same coin: you need both to realize your full potential.

Related: Is Creativity a Skill

Can Discipline Limit Creativity

Discipline is an essential prerequisite for creative work.

For example, if a writer isn’t disciplined enough to write a little every day, he’ll never be able to write a novel. But too much discipline makes it impossible to be creative.

The more you force yourself to sit at your desk and create something, the more it’ll feel like a prison sentence and the less you’ll want to do it. Your greatest desire will be focused on leaving your desk.

It’s like trying not to eat too much when you’re dieting. The more you try not to think about it, the more you’ll feel hungry, and the harder it’ll be not to eat.

If you try to develop discipline in the wrong way, it will limit your creative genius, because if you discipline yourself overmuch, your subconscious mind can’t absorb new information and will stagnate.

On the other hand, if you have a creative idea and then discipline it, that idea has already gone through your subconscious mind and is therefore is now ready for action. It may even be an extension of something you’ve been working on for some time.

In any case, you need both creativity and discipline if you want to produce something truly original.

Related: Is There a Limit to Creativity

Creativity Depends First and Foremost on You Thinking Outside the Box

We’re programmed to think in pigeonholes.

When we take in information, it makes sense to think inside the box first. The box is usually defined as all the obvious alternatives that are already known so that others can also be helpful in our thought process.

The best way to think outside the box isn’t to look for answers, but to ask better questions.

When you do that, the answers often come out of nowhere and look a lot less like answers than they did before.

Thinking outside the box means that you assume that the problem you’re facing is a real problem worth thinking about. It’s not just about throwing out all your usual assumptions – but instead replacing some of them with something that can lead to innovation.

Golden rule: what you replace it with has to be better than what you replaced!

A Common Mistake

A common mistake is to assume that “thinking outside the box” means “looking at things from a different perspective.” That’s just looking inside another box!

It’s not where we look, but how we look that matters.

Creative Thinking Is Unpredictable

Creativity is much less predictable.

When you’re creative, there’s no telling in advance what you’ll do or how productive you’ll be.

You might do nothing for months and then suddenly write three great songs in a row; or you might write two great songs today and two lousy ones tomorrow; or maybe one day, without warning, your creativity simply wanes.

Definition of Discipline

Discipline is the ability to force yourself to do what you should do, even though it would be easier not to. It’s an important skill for anyone trying to accomplish something difficult.

You’re not disciplined because you can focus at will. Kids can do that.

You’re disciplined when you can focus on a task when there’s also something more seductive available. It’s also the basis of good organization.

People who lack discipline look at the TV instead of doing their work.

Discipline isn’t about feeling good because you did something difficult. Discipline is the ability to do what’s difficult now so you don’t have to do something even more difficult later!

The alternative to discipline isn’t fun and joy, but exhaustion, frustration, resentment, and failure.

While it’s true that sometimes you have to fight pleasure to accomplish something important, it’s never a good idea to choose between pleasure and discipline; it’s like choosing between your heart and your lungs.

The real question is how much of both you need at any given time, and how much of both you can leave out now in favor of more later. That’s the kind of choice that real life requires.

If you’re disciplined, you’ll keep the same schedule every day and get a good amount of work done every day. The schedule and productivity aren’t guaranteed to be optimal, but you can count on them.

Discipline Is Predictable

Discipline is more than just saying no to yourself. It’s also about recognizing the obstacles that stand in your way.

If you want to lose weight, it’s not enough to know that you should exercise more and watch what you eat; you also need to know why it’s so easy to ignore that advice.

Discipline means more than just showing up and doing the work. It means noticing how and why you procrastinate and what distracts you so you can get a handle on these issues.

It means understanding the obstacles that keep slowing you down so you can work around them. And that’s hard work.

When Creativity Strikes

Creative ideas can come at any time, you don’t have to wait for the moment of “creativity” to be creative. However, discipline is more of a deciding factor in whether you’ll ever get innovative ideas down on paper or improve them.

Creativity leads to breakthroughs, discipline leads to consistency.

The ability to focus is like a muscle. It can be strengthened through training. The more you train it, the stronger it becomes. At first, the exercises are abdominal crunches and push-ups; then they become easier.

Then it becomes harder not to do them.

Related: Where Does Creativity Come From

People think that creativity is a kind of magic of the brain. A creative idea just pops into your head and then you sit down and work out the details.

In reality, creativity isn’t that different from any other skill. It’s a process of trying out lots of ideas, being willing to be wrong and honing your skills for as long as it takes.

Some people are naturally better at it than others. But some people are better at it because they taught themselves. Being creative isn’t a mysterious gift, but something you can learn.

Creativity isn’t just about the artistic aspect of imagination, but also about solving all kinds of problems, including scientific and business problems.

Discipline Needs Balance

Although you may think that discipline is something negative, it’s an essential part of the creative process.

Discipline requires a balance between self-discipline and discipline imposed by others. The amount of discipline needed for creativity varies greatly from person to person, but creativity is harder to achieve if there’s not some kind of discipline structure to help you channel your thinking.

The more we work with ourselves, the more we find that discipline leads to consistency and helps improve creativity.

When we’re disciplined with our habits and take time for ourselves each day, our minds eventually become clear and focused.

If we’re disciplined in applying the lessons learned from our failures, our minds will eventually be free of clutter and distractions. We can separate ourselves from things and people that are no longer useful to us and open ourselves to the opportunities around us.

This may be why many artists say they begin each day with a few moments of meditation or prayer; not to ask for inspiration, but to clear away the distractions and prepare their minds to receive it.

Creative Discipline

Creative work requires creative discipline. We must decide what we want to do before we do it and then do it.

“But I’m creative!” people say. “I don’t need routines. I just make things up as I go along.”

That’s a misconception. Inventing something isn’t the same as creating something. You need discipline for that, too, but it’s different, of course, from the discipline required for routine tasks.

Creative people don’t just have more ideas. They’re better at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their ideas and then working harder to improve them.

For example, if you’re writing a novel, it’s best to focus on one main idea, and acquire knowledge and education around it. Having plenty of new ideas would make it confusing and you would quickly lose your enthusiasm and willingness to keep your self-discipline.

The key to creative success isn’t more ideas or less fear. It’s more discipline.

Creativity and discipline are essential for companies, startups, and entrepreneurial growth.

In fact, nowadays some companies offer various employee training to improve their problem-solving skills, encourage collaboration, and improve their behavior by reducing rigor and encouraging freedom of thinking during training.

Examples of Successful Creatives and Leaders Who Applied a Culture of Self Discipline

  • Albert Einstein
  • William Shakespeare
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Marie Curie
  • Mozart
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Elton John
  • Lady Gaga
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Bill Gates