Flaubert, Discipline, and Originality

I’ve never been a highly disciplined person. I have had to work at an organizational system that keeps me afloat, finally settling in to something reasonable in the last couple of years (thank you moleskine day planner).

In fact, younger Steve kind of rebelled against the whole idea of discipline, schedules, order, and various other synonyms. The reality is, whether one is spontaneous or structured, relational or task oriented, a “p” or a “j” (a little myers-briggs reference there for you), we all need some sort of structure to help us get through life, let alone the day.

Artists call it framing. The “framing information” lets you know if you are at an opera or a rock concert, whether this is photography or painting. In other words, there is no work without the frame.

(Keith Richards says, that for the musician, silence is the frame. I kind of like that.)

We need a frame so that we know what we are looking at, watching, reading, etc, and we need a frame to help us know what do, how to prioritize, and how to make decisions. Even those who espouse total freedom and throw off constraints are choosing a frame and making a decision about priorities.

I came across a quote recently that really drove all of this home for me. It’s from Gustave Flaubert, the 19th century writer:

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Oh man, I love that. I’ve never been so excited about organization in my life!

I don’t know what kind of frame you have or need. I don’t know if you need a google calendar, or a smart phone, or a good old-fashioned day planner and quad pen (my preference), but if you want to accomplish things…if you have goals and aspirations and dreams…prioritize, create a system (your frame), say no to some things (and throw some stuff away), and get to work!

The breakthrough moment for me: organization leads to originality. I’m in!


5 thoughts on “Flaubert, Discipline, and Originality

  1. Dude… with all due respect, your mother spent 18 years trying to teach you this lesson! (I will confess, however, that I LOVE the flaubert quote too.)

    My favorite part is you get to start climbing this hill in less than 90 days! 🙂

    I resonate deeply with the idea of frame… I’m a contextualizer, to reference another popular matrix for self-understanding. Without context, we’re lost in the woods… or the weeds.

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