“In the great artist you see daring bound by discipline and discipline stretched by daring.”

Robert Brault, operatic tenor

It’s not about discipline at all.

It’s all about balance.

All the elements discussed in these pages can be boiled down to two vital factors.  The first is passion.  How to foster it.  How to bond with it.  How to harness, utilize, grasp, understand, and eventually, in those magical moments…


The second is this.  Not discipline.  But balance.

The problem with passion is that it is rises at the very heart of self-identity.  Self-expression.

And this can lead to self-absorption.  The unacknowledged assumption of too many artists that they stand at the center of their own universe.

Balance.  Balance is the key.

Don’t get me wrong.  Self-absorption is vital to good art.  The only way I can make it through another first draft, facing four hundred of those empty pages, is by being absolutely certain that I am the right person telling the right story at the right time.  In that sense, every first draft is all about me.

Then comes the next phase in the process.

This is the point at which the project is no longer mine.  It becomes…Something else.  And this something else is the transition where too many would-be commercial artists lose their way.

In writing, that something else happens when I move from first draft to second.  Remember what I said:  The creative act requires self-absorption.  Why?  Because this sense of supreme confidence is essential to maintaining the artistic flow.  And yet, in order to transform this raw story into a commercial project, I must…

Change.  Grow.  Develop.  Accept that some of my precious work is not as good as I thought it was.  Why?  Because the emotions I felt while writing the scene are not felt by the audence when they read it.

In other words, I must now look at it from the audience’s perspective.

This is where a good editor becomes crucial.  In commercial writing, having an editor whom you trust means that this person is granted the power to speak for all the audiences out beyond the curtain.  And by curtain, I mean, the emotional veil that clouds your own perception.

At this point, my internal perspective must also undergo a significant shift.  From this point on, I become, well…

A surgeon.

Everything is open to doubt, to change, to redesign.  Everything.

As I have said before, these two different directions are not in harmony.  And because of this, I do not reread until I have completed the first draft.

But that is just me.


  • Write out these words and place them on the board with all your other thoughts and hopes for this project: 

I am the right artist,

Working on the right project,

At the right time.

  • When you complete your project, take down this card.  Stow it away until you start your next project. 

 Now put up a second card and plant if front and center on your thought-board:

From this point on,

It’s all about my audience.



Davis Bunn’s next novel MIRAMAR BAY comes out March 28th 2017. Don’t forget to order your copy today!


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