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 kissing scene in Black Swan:
What can we learn?
Beyond the calculated
sterility of perfection. This movie explores the quixotic quest for
perfection. Nina’s obsession with being a perfect dancer, a perfect daughter, and
a perfect swan, leads her down an increasingly dark path in which her sanity is
threatened. I remember watching this movie at the theater. When the credits rolled, I slumped back in my chair
and exhaled a deep sign of relief. And I thought to myself, wow, perfection
must be exhausting. Thank god I don’t have that gene. Although, I have found
myself on that treadmill before. For years, I used to labor over the precision
of every sentence until my books were flawless. Until I realized that nobody
noticed. That the extra effort and stress and time and energy and money
invested in pushing a project to one hundred percent wasn’t worth the cost. And
so, I started aiming for eighty percent. Cutting corners wherever I could. Treating
sufficiency as policy. Reducing
redundancies at every phase of the process. And believing that enough was as
good as a feast. That way, once I hit my mark of eighty percent, I could roll
over that final twenty percent into starting the next project. The point is,
the artist’s obligation is to progress, not perfection. It’s about moving
forward, not moving flawlessly. Are
you letting the curse of perfection trump the commitment to progress?
Perfect is the
enemy of fast. Leroy explains that perfection
is not just about control, but also about letting go. Surprising
yourself so you can surprise the audience. It’s not about obsessing over getting each
move exactly right, it’s about losing yourself. Shedding all sense of
self and allowing yourself to just be. As one of my songwritingheroesfamously said, forming a
bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them
with the element of surprise. What’s crazy is, there are tons of artists who’d rather
prefer perfecting what they do, and doing it over and over for years until they
get it right. I’m sorry, but that’s madness. Literally insane behavior. Can you
imagine anything less efficient than that? There is simply not enough time in
life to quest for perfection. As a creator and communicator of ideas, you want
a wake of work following you wherever you go. Momentum and speed and volume.
And unfortunately, that’s impossible to accomplish if you’re paralyzed in the
pursuit of perfect. Reminds me of a
perfectionist friend of mine. She would rather show nothing than show work
that’s less than her best. And I tell her all the time, look, I understand you
want to put your best foot forward, but you’ll never impress anyone by putting no
foot forward.Have you learned to use
imperfection as your advantage?
Keeping all your
doors to crazy cracked. Another one of my songwritingheroesrecently said that if you
think you know what your audience wants, and you’re going to cater to them,
you’re just going to start making worse versions of what you did before. He
makes a good point. Why spend the rest of your creative life merely improving
what you’ve already achieved? It’s the different between making chocolate and
carob. Between creating from whole cloth and going in a time machine to recycle
yourself. And so, the more interesting and daring and rewarding path would be
to playwithboundaries, not just
within them. To embody the opposite
of perfection, aka, playfulness. Making room for possibility, whatever the cost
to yourself. That’s precisely what
audiences want. Interesting people who create art that they could not think of
themselves. Leroy says it best. The only person standing in your way is you.Are you undercutting your unique essence by
listening to other too loudly?
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!