Beer and Coffee

I often think about the relationship between inspiration and discipline in writing. Both are necessary. Inspiration is necessary because without a subject to write about and a belief in its value there is little reason to write. However the passion of inspiration comes and goes and if one becomes a slave to that passion then nothing will ever be finished. That’s where discipline comes in.

I idly wonder if marriages work kinda similar. There needs to be love but raw feeling won’t get you through every circumstance. There also needs to be commitment.

I’ve also heard the two aspects of the writing process described in terms of beer and coffee. When you drink enough beer, your inhibitions disappear and your lubricated imagination spews forth all sorts of ridiculous ideas. If one such idea is to be carried to completion, the writer needs to put the beer away at some point and focus; caffeine may be necessary to get the writer through long nights of writing.

When I was in highschool and in the earlier years of university, I was great at the beer end of things but not so great at the coffee part. I had lots of ideas, more ideas than I knew how to handle. But I couldn’t bring a project to completion and I certainly couldn’t self-edit. Poems I could finish, beautiful in their brevity, but a longer work was an impossibility.

University taught me the coffee part. I could focus, manage deadlines, self-edit, and employ all the other necessary skills. What I lost in the labyrinth of school bureaucracy and assignment minutiae was the imagination. I could finish a project easily, it was just near-impossible to start one.

So the question then becomes this: how do you get that back? How do you get back the sense of wonder, imagination, and inspiration once it’s lost. Or, perhaps, ‘misplaced’ is a better word. I’ve had it recommended to me that I should try stream of consciousness writing which has had some success. I can get words on the screen daily. Nothing to be particularly proud of as an artist but at least it’s enjoyable.

However I recover the sense of wonder/love/beer/etc, I’m certain it will happen. Not because I have some prophetic vision but because I am resolved to maintain the practice of writing until it does.

And that’s why I’ll make a great husband. Or writer. Or something.

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