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 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 morning routine scene in Wallace and Gromit:
What can we learn?
Eliminate the roadblocks before they even exist. Wallace may be an absent minded inventor whose elaborate contraptions rarely work as intended, but the man understands the value of routine. After all, he makes a living by his wits. The quality and frequency of his thoughts determines his livelihood. He can’t afford not to create. And so, he’s built for himself a framework of discipline, in which enthusiasm grows on its own and builds on itself. And yet, as ridiculous as his morning routine seems to the outside observer, it’s exactly what he needs to cultivate the optimal conditions to make his work happen. In fact, every creator has their own version of this. Even if it’s something as simple as wearing the same pair of boots or waking up the same song. Ritual isn’t about size and duration, it’s about thoughtfulness and regularity. It’s about creating a foundation of security and a ongoing sense of safety. A bliss station where inspiration can flow as a natural consequence of your surroundings. Because you can’t invent your sock off until you invent a contraption for putting your socks on. What structure might provide you with a prepared environment for inspiration?
Free to be mentally active. Wallace and Gromit has been translated into over twenty languages and has a massive global following. They’ve won dozens of awards. And due to their widespread popularity, the characters have been described as positive international icons that have inspired a whole new generation of innovative minds. As a kid, I never watched this show. I don’t even remember it. But looking back, the theme is right up my alley. Because I came from a family of artists and thinkers and entrepreneurs. In our house, encouraging creativity was always regarded as a worthwhile endeavor. We were free to be mentally active. We had physical space to engage in the life of the mind. And people were constantly pushing each other to see how far they could go with their ideas. As a result, each of us developed the empowering habit of exercising the part of our brain that was most original. Each of us learned how to grow up, but more importantly, how to grow into ourselves. As a creative kid, you can’t ask for much more than that. Except maybe some cheese. Who was the first person that gave you permission to take steps toward your own creative health?
Corral your duties into daily routines. Wallace’s morning routine is a finely calibrated mechanism. It’s his personal on ramp. A consistent, repeated sequence of thoughts and actions that activates the creative subroutine in his head and snaps him into the appropriate state of mind to start his day. The secret, of course, is that he doesn’t have to think. Not about his clothes, not about his food, not about anything. Gromit and his various contraptions do that work for him. And that’s the whole point. Because nobody wants to have to wake up and look for options of what to do first. The mind is a terrible office. Allowing unnecessary thoughts to take up residence in your psyche, especially right as you’re getting out of bed, is an unhealthy habit. And trying to engage your brain at six in the morning around menial mundane decisions an exhaustive process that wastes valuable energy that should be dedicating to making things. The goal, then, is to relieve your brain of the necessity of remembering. To hold onto the deep grooves of holy habit. To minimize thinking wherever possible. Even if you have to invent your own dopey contraption for doing so. What morning routine helps you unlocks the door to creativity?
What did you learn?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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