Thursday, May 9, 2013

Keeping Motivated...

Ever run into a period where it's really hard to stay motivated?  We've all been there, and us creative folks have been there many times.   Sometimes it's difficult to keep our eyes on the prize.  The process of seeing a project from inception to release can be a very very long time.

While it's OK to slack off every once and a while, to prevent burnout, the danger is to let apathy put you into a never-ending holding pattern.  Eventually, you need to snap out of it, and remember why you're in this business in the first place.

Since filmmaking is an entrepreneurial endeavor, you're often your own studio head, boss, producer, etc.  As you're developing your project (on spec, of course), there's no one to hold you accountable for hitting your milestones, unlike a traditional corporate (or studio) structure.

Many years ago, I found myself at a creative crossroads.  I wasn't sure where I was going, and I had no idea how to get to the next level.  I realized that I could keep doing the same thing forever and nothing would ever change.  But I wanted to do so much more, and I didn't know how.

In situations like these, it's important to do something different.  If you're an athlete, you understand the concept of a training plateau.  In weight training, when you hit a plateau, then it's time to change up your workout routine to stimulate progress.  Your body gets used to doing things a certain way, and you won't progress unless you "shock" it into new growth.

The same goes with your mind.  Routine, while a comfort to many, is the enemy of creativity.  Once you find yourself "phoning it in", or working on autopilot, it's time to change things up.  Start a new routine.  For actors, this could be taking a brand new class, or even learning a new language or physical skill.  For writers & filmmakers, it could be introducing a new ritual into your script writing process.

I discovered this book The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  I had heard about it for many years; lots of my creative friends mentioned that they had done this course.  It's a book, but it's really a workbook that is designed to jump-start your creativity.  There are groups out there who go through the multi-week program together, but you can also do it alone.  Just make sure that you have the discipline to stick with it, because it's not easy.

 The Artist's Way Morning Pages (Google Affiliate Ad)          The Artist's Way at Work: Ridi (Google Affiliate Ad)

One of the activities that is part of the program is what's know as the Morning Pages.  You are required to write 3 full pages, single spaced, first thing each day.  There's no requirement for subject matter, only that you complete 3 pages...each day.  This is not easy.  Considering how many weeks are in the program, you will definitely have those moments where you don't know what you are going to write about.  But you have to do it!  In order to break through your own mental limitations, you need to push yourself, much like a personal trainer has you squeeze out a few extra reps, when you think you can't.

A funny thing happens when you break through your resistance.  Your mind begins to work on a different level.  You stop thinking and start being.  As an actor, this is best accomplished through Improv and other theater exercises, but for a writer, this is the next best substitute.  While the other activities in the program are very good for infusing your creativity, for me, it was the Morning Pages ritual that really clicked.

If you're so inclined, you might want to check the book out.  It's been around for many years, and they now have a new volume that's also geared towards your chosen career. They also now have a Morning Pages Journal that you can purchase as well.  But my main point is that whenever you hit a plateau, you need to shock yourself to a new level by doing something different.

It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results.  By changing, we grow.  Find your own new activity or ritual to move you out of your funk and into new levels of creativity!

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