Let's take this offline
The other day, an old friend texted me:
I can’t keep up with this speed. Everything is too loud and fast. I can’t create much these days. I miss my VHS world I guess :)))
He is right, in a sense, the world is going crazy. The shift in digital evolution has been huge, and has occurred unbelievably quickly. But for sure, one thing is never going to change: the answer has never been the outside world.
The world is only fast and noisy when you are just a viewer. If you are a creator, a producer or a builder, you have to explore your inner world as much as you need to take inspiration from the outside. This balance between inner and outer will give you the right focus and the rhythm you need for your creativity.
But how can the world inside help us to navigate the confusing world outside?
Chekhov and Hollywood
Anton Chekhov said: “If you want to work on your art, work on your life.”
I’ve been thinking about this quote for a long time now. I interpret it to mean, solve a problem inside yourself, and then take that solution outside.
A great example of this concept is the 1993 comedy-drama film, Mrs. Doubtfire. The plot goes like this (spoiler alert!):
The life of Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) is a mess. He is not successful as a voice-over artist (outside) and also not an ideal father (inside). As a result, his wife wants a divorce. But he can’t stand being apart from his three children (the problem). Here is when his real journey starts.
With help from his creative brother Frank, he dresses as an older British woman and convinces his ex-wife to hire him as a nanny. That’s how he creates "Mrs. Doubtfire", who wins over the children and helps him discover how to become a better parent.
Later, Daniel pitches the character to a network and it becomes the pivotal point he was looking for in his career: hosting a successful national TV show for children.
He found his place in the world by finding his place at home.
Focus on your own problems and pains. If you learn how to heal them, you will escape competition, noise, and pointless games through authenticity.
But what if we cannot find this meaningful connection between inside and out?
Make yourself uncomfortable
It’s a simple technique that many artists use in order to dive deeper: disrupt the balance of your life.
Here is a story for you to grasp this idea:
The rock band Metallica had sold more than 90 million albums before they hit a big creative block around 1997. It caused the band much confusion and also a big identity crisis.
The band lost many fans over a legal fight with Napster (a popular file sharing service) over owning their own content. The relationship between band members was at an all-time low, and Jason Newsted, the bass player, left the band.
They didn’t release anything new for 5 years. Many in music journalism questioned the future of the most powerful metal band of all time.
In order to emerge from this creative abyss, they changed what was comfortable for them. When they recorded their next album, St. Anger, they made some radical changes to their normal recording routine:
Hired a group therapist
Rented an old building to stay away from the studio environment
Agreed to improvise the whole songwriting process
In summary, they made themselves uncomfortable by creating a new environment, in order to create new ideas.
Don’t let the world scare you. Change is the new normal - but the ways we consume stories, and the way we entertain and educate ourselves, haven’t changed much.
Have you heard that the best journeys will take you home? Work on finding and building your home.
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