Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mozart: Discipline Important for Creativity

Mark McGuinness says:

Organisation, structure, discipline and habit—these often seen as threats to creativity. Not to mention corporate-sounding phrases such as ‘time management’ or ‘workflow’.

We like to think of creativity as a space for untrammelled imagination, free from all constraints. Yet while freedom, rule-breaking and inspiration are undoubtedly essential to the creative process, the popular image of creativity overlooks another aspect: examine the life of any great artist and you will find evidence of hard work, discipline and a hard-won knowledge of the rules and conventions of their medium.

Choreographer Twyla Tharp, who directed the opera and dance scenes for the film Amadeus, has this to say about the film’s portrait of Mozart:

The film Amadeus dramatizes and romanticizes the divine origins of creative genius.
Antonio Salieri, representing the talented hack, is cursed to live in the time of Mozart, the gifted and undisciplined genius who writes as though touched by the hand of God… Of course this is hogwash. There are no ‘natural’ geniuses… No-one worked harder than Mozart.

By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose…As Mozart himself wrote to a friend, “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”

This passage is taken from Tharp’s excellent book The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life, in which she argues that ‘routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more’.

Source: Mark McGuinness, Time Management for Creative People, E-Book, London, 2007 5-6. This is an excellent free E-book and is a useful resource, especially for writers, bloggers, poets, musicians...

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Mozart.