Thursday, August 21, 2014

Moments of Conception 080 -- The Doorway Scene from As Good As It Gets

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 doorway scene in As Good As It Gets:

What can we learn?

Build a routine and ride it. The worst advice in the world is when someone tells you to just do it. Because as profound and simple and honest as those three words may be, they’re not especially useful for the struggling artist. Fact is, if just doing it was all it was going to take, you would have just done it by now. Unfortunately, the creative process is a bit more complex than a shoe commercial. I’m reminded of a writer friend of mine who recently asked what he could do to overcome his creative block. Part of me wanted to smack him on the back of the head and tell him just do it, but I knew that wouldn’t be helpful. And so, I asked him the same question I ask everyone in his situation: What’s your writing schedule? His answer was, sometimes he writes in the mornings, sometimes he writes in the evenings, and on and on. I interrupted him and said sometimes wasn’t a schedule. We both had a good laugh. But together we realized, every artist needs to build a routine and ride it. Even if that means shutting out the neighbors. After all, the creating we don’t do today is lost forever. When was the last time you sat uninterrupted and quiet with just your thoughts?

Create your own standards of discipline. Vonnegut famously said that the triumph of most things is a matter of organization. What’s interesting is, he was talking about morality. About good versus evil. Angels and mobsters and the like. And yet, his advice perfectly applies to the physical organization required to thrive as a creator and communicator of ideas. Because we all need a secure base to operate from. We all need reliable containers for the energies rising within us. Melvin may be an obsessive compulsive, disdainful, unlikable pain in the ass, but you’ve got to hand it him, the man knows how to keep a schedule. Ridiculous as his routine may be, it’s still a helpful lesson for creators. Especially those of us who work out of our homes. We have no choice but to create our own standards of discipline. Every day, we have to set up narrow parameters that keep our productivity in check, but also create just enough room to be free and play. Which routines naturally call forth your most productive, enjoyable and concentrated abilities?

Train yourself to deal with bad conditions. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life working at home. And despite my best efforts to inoculate myself against distractions and interruptions, I accepted the fact that there will always be a barking dog down the hall, a construction crew hammering down the street, or a retired neighbor who smokes pot in the bathroom right after lunch. That’s my life sentence as a writer, and I’ve made peace with it. Melvin, on the other hand, is unable to withstand the external pressures that attempt to deter him from his productive path. As a result of his obsessive compulsive disorder, he insists on working under ideal conditions. But as a result of that routine, his perfectly crafted creative nirvana, he’s not mentally and physically prepared to cope with the unusual events that transpire during the movie. And therein lies the lesson. Instead of trying to swim against the disruptive current, what we should do is systematically practice with distractions. Intentionally surround our creative process with obstacles, embrace the distractions and find the inner focus that exists regardless of the external environment. How could you become so accustomed to stress, distractions, and pressure, that they no longer phase you?

What did you learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
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!