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 car scene from Groundhog Day:
What can we learn?
Engage in possibility for its own sake. The greatest moment in a creator’s life is when we realize, wait a minute, this is art. I can do whatever I want. It’s a hard gift to give ourselves. Especially with the cacophony of critical voices drowns out our inner sense of permission. But once we realize that we have complete lexical freedom, once we discover that we are accountable to ourselves and nobody else, and once we accept that nobody is looking out for our career anymore, we enter into an environment of unlimited creative possibility. We invent not only our play, but the parameters of the world we play within. Phil knows he’s trapped in a time loop, and so he does whatever he wants. He seduces women, learns town secrets, steals money, drives recklessly, attempts suicide multiple times and gets thrown in jail. But halfway through the film, his attitude shifts. He starts to help people, learns to play the piano, makes ice sculptures and befriends strangers. It’s an interesting contrast. A fascinating case study about what one might use their creative freedom to accomplish. After all, that’s why we make art in the first place. To do whatever we want. How would your work be different if you created without feeling dependent on circumstances?
Keep adding to the collection. In the first three years of my career, I experienced an asset imbalance. I had all the attention I wanted, but none of the equity I needed. And I’ll never forget when my mentor told me, you need to focus on building assets, not being famous. So I started writing. And writing. And writing some more. All day, everyday. That was my life. I was ruthless. I lived and breathed and ate and shit writing. And after a few years, it actually started to pay off. I was growing my body of work, not just my body of affection. Writing was becoming the basis of all wealth. Volume was becoming the ultimate catchall. And production was becoming the linchpin that activated everything else. Finally, new opportunities were finding me because of achievement through artistic skill, not attention through promotional savvy. The point is, time doesn’t care what we do with it. We alone control the amount of work we do. We alone determine how busy we are. And so, if we’re unhappy with our asset imbalance, we have to change the pattern. We have to stir the pot, practice fertile idleness, leverage downtime, cut our own path and find work for ourselves. What did you add to your body of work this week?
Getting restless right on schedule. Phil has what everyone craves. Complete schedule flexibility. The freedom to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Which is enjoyable for the first week, but after a while, purgatory starts to lose some of its charm. And that’s the downside of having too much downtime. It starts to cripple motivation, heighten procrastination, activate depression, hinder direction, foster complacency and destroy perspective. As creators and communicators of ideas, we have to impose our own structures and schedules. We have to stimulate our own uptime, to steal a mechanical engineering term, which is the period of time when our creative machine is functioning and available for use. I have an actor friend who struggles with this phenomenon. He works in television, so his earnings are episodic. He mainly works in small, short bursts, and often experiences several months of downtime between projects. And so, he crafts a weekly schedule that includes acting classes, community performances, writing sessions, networking opportunities, and physical training. He builds his own uptime. That way, he doesn’t go crazy. Is your creative instrument tuned for the world to move through you?
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