Moments of Conception 070 — The Typewriter Scene from The Shining

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 typewriter scene scene in The Shining:

What can we learn?

We can’t set art off
in a corner.
Jack assumed
the seclusion at the hotel would help him reconnect with his family and create
the motivation needed to finish his play. But instead, he ended up going insane
from cabin fever, getting possessed by the hotel ghosts, going on a murderous
rampage and ultimately freezing to death in the hedge maze. Not exactly the
kind of productivity he was looking for. And
so, it’s a bloody good lesson about the dangers of remaining in isolation too
long. Because what happens to the creator is, he starts losing perspective. He
starts missing out on the subtle cues around him that could lead to
opportunities to connect. And by the time his work is done, there’s nobody
around to share it with. When I went through my workaholic phase, I was
completely preoccupied with my vision, my business, my art, my career and
myself. I sacrificed my relationships by creating friction between friends,
family members, colleagues and lovers. And I sacrificed my time by not having a
life outside of my career, with few centers of belonging and little involvement
in my community. The point is, we have to find the balance between productivity
and sociability. We have to stay prolific, while still going out of our way to
honor the part of us that is not satisfied with a life of estrangement and
isolation. Nobody should sacrifice human connection on the altar of creative
production. Are you remembering to
appreciate the wholeness of real people?

Become a master of your

Jack’s typewriter tantrum seems inflated and unwarranted, but any writer will
attest, when the art is coming, when you’re cranking away
feverishly and extensively, senseless
interruptions are profoundly frustrating.
Squeezed by our surroundings, muddied by triviality,
swept into the undertow of inconsequentiality, our work simply never gets done.
Unless, long before we
start creating, we put some energy into prioritizing, organizing and
streamlining the routines that keep others from frittering away our attention. We can hang creative
signs on our office doors. We can
apps that disable our internet
connection for the time period we specify.
We can install
plugins that block social sites that
waste our time.
Whatever it takes to inoculate us against distractions and maintain motivational
If we
want to become masters of our disinclination, we
have to consciously engineer our environment in ways that
cultivate the conditions for creativity to expand.
Jack’s system is simple. If he’s
in this room, he’s working. And that means don’t come in. Period. What’s your policy for managing
compositional paralysis?

Slam the iron door. Prolificacy means developing simple,
predictable system. One that takes willpower out of the equation. One that
doesn’t force you to borrow time and resources other parts of your life. One
that allows you to achieve a solid baseline of daily activity. One that doesn’t
require investing a single neuron in the unnecessary,
exhaustive search
of possibilities of where to direct your creative energies. Writers, for example, often treat
their creative process as a standing appointment. They’re
at the page
as they say, at the same time everyday. And they uphold that commitment with
religious fervor. They don’t downplay the importance of their work time. They
don’t back out at the last minute. They make a schedule and stick to it. That’s a simple system. Jack is setting
a boundary with his system. He’s slamming the iron door. And he’s letting the
other people in his life know that the
creative rapids are gushing, but
rest reassured, they will pass eventually. What
simple, predictable system will keep your creative practice grounded?

What did you learn?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!


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