Saturday, March 01, 2014

More Fully Flesh Out Your Work

Life is preaching to us all the time.

And as creators, people with hypersensitive relationships to the world, we have a responsibility to make the word become flesh.

Because all we need is one idea, one thought, one image, one metaphor, one sentence, one poetic turn of a phrase, which we feel deep in their bones and can’t wait to share with the world, and we’ll make a meal out of it.

Carlin used to write comedy this way.

He’d begin with a single note.

But over time, his notes would take on a life of their own. They’d start to find each other and become a family of ideas. And before he knew it, George would be sitting on sixty minutes of new material for his next standup special, all of which originated from that first note, that crucial moment of creative conception, that little piece of kindling that got the fire going.

And the best part about the process was, once the bonfire was blazing, nobody even remembered the piece of toilet paper that started it. Any piece of creation radiates outward and multiples itself until perhaps the original thing cannot be identified.

Edward DeBono, the godfather of creativity, has published a substantial amount of research on the process of fully fleshing out your work. He calls it movement value, which is the creative habit of recognizing beginnings. Identifying concepts that allow you to breed other ideas from those concepts, spawning as many creative offspring as possible.

Debono’s work found that the daily process of making the word become flesh can actually become a form of muscle memory. In the same way that a yogi’s hips snap into the downward dog position, the motor task of documenting meaningful things you notice can eventually become something you perform without conscious effort.

It just takes practice.

We have to get good at noticing the moment of conception. That thing when we say to ourselves, hey wait, I think there's something there.

And you feel your head and heart begin to make their voice known, louder and louder, insisting that you give this moment attention, so you respond by thinking, oh man, something badly wants to be built here, something desperately wants to move from word to flesh, so you open your heart to what wants to be born, follow that vibe and see where it takes you.

Because every moment of conception has an engine, a spark and an energy source. A pulse that all the other ideas hum with and grow from and move around and work off of.

And once you spot that moment of conception, the real discipline is harnessing its energy source to populate all of the implications and applications and situations and locations and motivations and concepts and patterns and stories and images and actions and insights and numbers and observations and decorations and declarations and invitations and questions and consequences, that are connected to it.

That’s movement value.

It helps you recognizing what you’re handling.