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 breakfast scene in Pee Wee's Big Adventure:
What can we learn?
You need a better routine, not more time. Peewee was an inspiration to me. He was a guy who laughed all the time, wore the same clothes every day, decorated his home with outlandish decorations and obscure furniture and he surrounded himself with strange contraptions and inventions that were deliberately over engineered to perform simple tasks in a complicated fashion. To call his home a playhouse was the understatement of the decade. God bless him. However, as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate his character on a more intellectual level. Peewee’s house, for example, is much more than just a Rube Goldberg machine. It’s a commitment to a routine. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a user interface for his brain. He knows that something is lost when he fails to start his day consciously. That’s why he executes a perfectly calibrated sequence for the first hour of his morning. It ensures that his day has a cadence and a rhythm. It creates ideal conditions to elicit his best work, although I’m pretty sure he doesn’t actually have a job. The point is, a creator’s morning rituals and routines and disciplines and habits are the very things that allow their creativity to blossom. It’s simply a matter of sticking with that routine no matter what. How predictable is your daily routine?
Reduce daily decisions to routine. There’s something special about diving into your art before the sun comes up. The world doesn’t make many demands on a creator at five in the morning. It’s calm, dark and quiet. It’s just you and your ideas. No distractions. No excuses. Complete control. You almost feel like you’re getting away with something. Playing with house money. Contributing to a surplus of imagination. Getting a head start over the rest of the world. It’s empowering as hell. Peewee represents the power of giving your creativity the first energy of the day. Just imagine if we could all wake up that excited every morning. What’s more, working first thing in the morning is also a way to safeguard yourself for the rest of the day. That hour or two of creating can prevent an entire day of guilty feelings. Because no matter what life throws at us, we’ll already have that chunk of creative work banked. Almost like emotional insurance, early morning creating is tool for orienting you in the direction of daily meaning making. Are you still wasting brain cells in the morning trying to figure out what to do, or does your daily routine relieve your mind the necessity of remembering?
Create a framework for inspiration. Peewee’s debut movie was written on the back of his wildly successful television show, Peewee’s Playhouse. We never missed an episode. Saturday mornings, my brother and I would race into the family room and fawn over his fantastic house filled with toys, gadgets, talking appliances, puppet characters and a disembodied genie’s head who lives in a jeweled box. The show used live action comedy, running gags, viewer interaction, video animation, green screen effects, claymation, famous guest stars, and of course, awesome eighties music. It was everything a burgeoning creative mind required. When the show went off the air, I was devastated. Saturday mornings would never be the same. What’s sad is, years later, Peewee was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater. And it set off a chain reaction of national media attention that changed the general public’s view of his work. But I never cared. Still don’t. The character that lived in my head and lived in my television was all that mattered. Peewee’s playhouse was the definitive environment for creativity, imagination and whimsy. His world was the first place that gave me permission to surround myself with inspiration at all times. Do new ideas flow as a natural consequence of your personalized workspace?
What did you learn?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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