All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the pool scene from The Invention of Dr. Nakamats Invention:
What can we learn?
Put something good in the story. Is it any coincidence that the people who create ideas worth spreading are the people who have lives worth living? Of course not. All prolific creators know that art is subordinate to life, not the other way around. That’s why they constantly put themselves an intercept path with interesting experiences. And not in a contrived, disingenuous, I just did it for the story kind of way. It’s just that good art, like a good story, doesn’t happen by accident. And so, it’s simply a matter of expanding their field of vision, which allows them to better notice the opportunities that lead to better stories. It’s not mind over matter, it’s using your mind to allow more things to matter, so you can expose yourself to the best life has to offer. Nakamatsu is a master of this process. He holds over four thousand patents. And even though several sources do not list him among the world’s most prolific inventors, watching his documentary is like taking your brain to a playground. You experience his creative process firsthand, as he invents products like a creative thinking recliner, a custom pushup bra, a brain enhancing cigarette, a pillow that prevents drivers form falling asleep behind the wheel, even a wig that functions as a self defense tool for women. Boring people never invent stuff like that. Who wants to make a documentary about your life?
All art is selfish art. Nakamatsu is eighty years old. He sleeps four hours a night. He exercises every morning. He eats dinner with the family every evening. He is never in a bad mood. He only wears custom tailored suits. He is beloved by his community. He is revered by his customers. And of course, he claims that his life is only half finished. The man is equal parts superhero, urban legend, insane person, creative genius, eccentric millionaire, comic book character and alien from another planet. Totally inspiring. But what I love most about the good doctor is, he creates inventions to help him come up with other inventions. He has the privilege of treating himself as a client. It’s a solid example of productive selfishness, since he’s scratching his own itches, making the art he wants to see in the world, using creativity to perfect the very creative process for which he is renowned. He’s selfish, but in the service of the greater good. Nakamatsu channels his selfishness in a direction that benefits civilization. What could you do for yourself right now that would be obscenely but productively selfish?
Get a grip on your mind. Most artists are bad bosses. They beat the creativity out of their own brans. And they say things to themselves they would never let somebody else say to them. That’s stupid. You can’t just do that. That’ll never work. It’s too late. You’re not ready. That’s not logical. As a result of this negative thinking, artists smother their heart’s finest impulses, dramatically shrink their creative output and eliminate hope for innovative thinking in the future. The secret, then, to eliminating these negative thoughts is to hear them for what they are and to substitute more productive ones. I have a brilliant guitarist friend who’s known around the world for his innovative approach to composing music. Mike says that whenever he’s working on new material, his strategy is to ask if a new song is cool, not if it’s possible. That way, he doesn’t talk himself out of his next great idea. What a powerful way of talking to yourself. Nakamatsu would agree. Are you treating yourself as you wish to be treated?What can we learn?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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