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 studio scene from Hustle & Flow:
What can we learn?
Your mental bandwidth is worth more. Being prolific is more than what we do, it’s what we
avoid. It’s the willingness to conserve our best energies for the activities
that have leverage. Creativity, then, is a process of elimination. It’s an
ongoing effort to remove the constructs that stand in the way of production. There are physical ones, like watching television
and going to meetings and attending seminars and getting sucked into the ego
vortex of social media, each of which adds unnecessary demands on our time and
attention. There are philosophical constructs, like permission and expectation and
procrastination and anxiety, all of which add profound pressure and complication
to our mental experience. And there are personal constructs, like saboteurs and
drama queens and unsupportive friends and constitutionally
incompatible partners, all of whom become obstacles that keep
us from bringing new life to what might be.
And so, the goal is to clean out as much of that plaque as we can, thus freeing
up our expressive faculties to focus on principal creation. The primary unit of
the creative process that requires focus and craft. In this movie’s case,
sweating it out in the studio, laying down tight hooks over dope beats. Are you investing your valuable creative
energy imagining personal battles, or executing physical assets?
You don’t need
more you. Djay
knows that trying to be creative alone is like trying to play basketball
without a backboard. Without the ambient humanity of other artists, their nose
gets pressed too hard against their own glass. Empathy, on the other hand, can become a profound source of creative
inspiration. There’s a fascinating study from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin which found that people
are often more creative for others than for themselves. Turns out, when we
distance ourselves and focus on someone else’s problem, we become more
expansive, our perspective broadens, and we become more flexible and abstract
in our thought patterns. I’m reminded of a songwriting circle I recently
attended. Each of us was sharing our struggles with various creative blocks.
And then a guitarist played one of his unfinished tracks, searching for an
interesting bridge idea to complete the piece. Within moments of sharing, three
people almost jumped out of their seats with suggestions for transition chords
to use for the bridge. And so,
that’s the creative potential of empathy. Once we stop stewing over our own
circumstances and start contributing meaningfully to the growth and well being
others, we create a tide that raises all boats. Because we cannot hold a torch
to light another’s creative path without brightening our own. Are you locking yourself into concrete and
rigid ways of thinking?
Inspiration is the ultimate survival mechanism. Djay is stumbling but surviving. He’s got problems
with friends, family, girlfriends, prostitutes, policemen, competitors and even
the radio stations. It really is hard out here for a pimp. But every artist
goes through this. At one time or another, we all have a strong urge to abandon
the process. Especially when the conditions are hot and muggy. But that’s the
difference between prolific creators and amateur dabblers. Stamina. Turning obstacles into aphrodisiacs. Rekindling their
persistence at a moment’s notice. Despite the hideous betrayal of all our
hopes, despite the persistent questions of whether it’s worth the time and
hardship to keep pursuing these creative project, we keep moving the story
forward. We keep adding energy to the system. Because not every part of us has
given us. Besides, it’s certainly better than the alternative. Being an out of
work artist is better than being an employed anything else. And a bad day
creating always beats a good day pretending to care about somebody else’s
dream. What inspires
your persistence and determination?
What did you learn?
* * * *
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!