Saturday, September 06, 2014

Moments of Conception 093 -- The Studio Scene from Hustle & Flow

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 studio scene from Hustle & Flow:

What can we learn?

Your mental bandwidth is worth more. Being prolific is more than what we do, it’s what we avoid. It’s the willingness to conserve our best energies for the activities that have leverage. Creativity, then, is a process of elimination. It’s an ongoing effort to remove the constructs that stand in the way of production. There are physical ones, like watching television and going to meetings and attending seminars and getting sucked into the ego vortex of social media, each of which adds unnecessary demands on our time and attention. There are philosophical constructs, like permission and expectation and procrastination and anxiety, all of which add profound pressure and complication to our mental experience. And there are personal constructs, like saboteurs and drama queens and unsupportive friends and constitutionally incompatible partners, all of whom become obstacles that keep us from bringing new life to what might be. And so, the goal is to clean out as much of that plaque as we can, thus freeing up our expressive faculties to focus on principal creation. The primary unit of the creative process that requires focus and craft. In this movie’s case, sweating it out in the studio, laying down tight hooks over dope beats. Are you investing your valuable creative energy imagining personal battles, or executing physical assets?

You don’t need more you. Djay knows that trying to be creative alone is like trying to play basketball without a backboard. Without the ambient humanity of other artists, their nose gets pressed too hard against their own glass. Empathy, on the other hand, can become a profound source of creative inspiration. There’s a fascinating study from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin which found that people are often more creative for others than for themselves. Turns out, when we distance ourselves and focus on someone else’s problem, we become more expansive, our perspective broadens, and we become more flexible and abstract in our thought patterns. I’m reminded of a songwriting circle I recently attended. Each of us was sharing our struggles with various creative blocks. And then a guitarist played one of his unfinished tracks, searching for an interesting bridge idea to complete the piece. Within moments of sharing, three people almost jumped out of their seats with suggestions for transition chords to use for the bridge. And so, that’s the creative potential of empathy. Once we stop stewing over our own circumstances and start contributing meaningfully to the growth and well being others, we create a tide that raises all boats. Because we cannot hold a torch to light another’s creative path without brightening our own. Are you locking yourself into concrete and rigid ways of thinking?

Inspiration is the ultimate survival mechanism. Djay is stumbling but surviving. He’s got problems with friends, family, girlfriends, prostitutes, policemen, competitors and even the radio stations. It really is hard out here for a pimp. But every artist goes through this. At one time or another, we all have a strong urge to abandon the process. Especially when the conditions are hot and muggy. But that’s the difference between prolific creators and amateur dabblers. Stamina. Turning obstacles into aphrodisiacs. Rekindling their persistence at a moment’s notice. Despite the hideous betrayal of all our hopes, despite the persistent questions of whether it’s worth the time and hardship to keep pursuing these creative project, we keep moving the story forward. We keep adding energy to the system. Because not every part of us has given us. Besides, it’s certainly better than the alternative. Being an out of work artist is better than being an employed anything else. And a bad day creating always beats a good day pretending to care about somebody else’s dream. What inspires your persistence and determination?

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!