Friday, June 27, 2014

Moments of Conception 034 -- The Review Scene from Singles

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 review scene in Singles:

What can we learn?

Abstinence is a worthy artistic detachment. Our fundamental drive as creators is to be heard. To extend our sentiments and make our thoughts and feelings and expressions accessible to the world. That’s why reading reviews of our work is such a seductive pastime. It appeals to our deepest artistic desires. But when we get sucked into that ego vortex, it becomes an addiction. A rabbit hole of defensiveness and deflation. And the worst part is, that addiction becomes a tail that grows back everyday. Or, in the case of digital media, every few minutes. Singles is a movie about aspiring. It’s about the burgeoning phase of a career in which artists try to find their creative voice. And so, it represents a crucial choice we have to make. Should we torture ourselves listening to voices that don’t matter, or execute work that does matter? Should we invest time and energy reading reviews about our creations, or develop deeper trust in our creations? Should we expose ourselves to harsh, unsolicited feedback, or drown out the white noise and get back to work? The answer is, whatever keeps us on the side of the creators. Are you focusing on principal creation or peripheral masturbation?

Turn feedback into inspiration. Feedback can be procrastination in disguise. Just another excuse not to do the work. On the other hand, feedback can also be treated as inspiration. An energy source to fuel your creativity. If you look closely at the newspaper, the music critic says the band’s lead singer should move to another town where he can disappear into the masses and not stand out like the relentlessly mediocre talent that he is. Ouch. There isn’t an artist alive, rookie or veteran, who wouldn’t be devastated by that blow. Cliff appears legitimately wounded, of course, even despite his band’s best efforts to keep the painful barbs out of his ears. And yet, in that moment, he reminds himself that he can process his feelings later. He dismisses the negative comments before they make him upset. For now, the negative energy makes him stronger. They will not retreat. This band is unstoppable. And no matter what happens tonight, they just remember, they’re still loved in Italy and Belgium. Are you giving someone’s opinion more weight than it deserves?

You can’t argue with a ringing register. Criticism creates a visceral reaction in almost everyone. Especially artists. We are a thoughtful and romantic and empathetic breed, easily wounded and frequently derailed by shame and humiliation. Worse yet, criticism can lodge in our minds and eat away at our core. The solution, according to one of my favorite books, is transforming ourselves into people less willing and less likely to be criticized. Maisel explains that we can actually orient our personalities in a direction that uses criticism as an opportunity to effect positive change. I’m reminded of the time I was featured on a list of the worst tattoos of all time. How proud my parents were. But of course, the shady underworld of anonymous commenters lashed out at me. They called me names that would make a rainbow blush. Meanwhile, something occurred to me. I was the one who built an iconic brand, a profitable enterprise and entire career out of wearing a nametag. Not them. So who’s the joke really on here? Will you let criticism prevent you from fulfilling your dreams?

What's your favorite moment of conception?