Sunday, September 23, 2012

Creativity Boot Camp?

I read a great article over at Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project  today:  Put Yourself in Creativity Boot Camp

The idea is simple:  for a certain period of time, you devote yourself INTENSELY to a single project. 

Like most folks I know, I struggle with procrastination.  I have gotten the "pre-show preparation angst" down to a science, and it seems the more experienced I am, the worse it gets.  Once I have gotten some major decisions out of the way, it like pulling nails to get me sit down and study.  This is all the more frustrating in light of the fact that whenever I devote ANY time to the project, I get a ton of work done, and feel IMMENSELY better.

I have a little list of activities that don't require a huge amount of brain power, but "count" towards my learning a show..... the biggest is prepping the score:  writing in my translation, printing and binding. Then on to the creative work.  This is where it falls apart.

A method I have been trying on the past several shows:  I literally create a study schedule, assigning a scene or two to work on every day.  I try to get my "assignment" done very early.... first thing, if possible.... so I can then relax. If I feel inspired to work on more later in the day, fine, but I am officially  "off the hook."   In some ways this is a bit like Gretchen's boot camp idea, but it needs some tweaking.  

Here are 4 points from her article that really resonate with me.  (This is a direct cut-and-paste from Gretchen's article, but there are a lot more over there, so do check it out!)
  • Progress itself is reassuring and inspiring. Panic tends to set in when you find yourself getting nothing done, day after day.
  • Because you’re so focused on your project, you begin to make deeper connections and to see more possibilities, instead of being constantly distracted by outside concerns. 
  • Because of the intensity, you can hop in and out of the project, without having to take time to acclimate yourself. 
  • Because you have a voracious need for material, you become hyper-aware of everything happening around you — and ideas begin to flood your mind.
 I LOVE this.  Basically, it is what happens during the production period of an opera!  We meet and for a month, my whole life is about making that show happen.  I can stand the intensity because I know that at the end of that time, I move on.    

So I'm thinking a more serious boot camp is in order for future shows.  I going aim for a shorter boot camp EARLIER in the preparation process, then a less intense review time closer to the show.   Of course some of this will revolve around my calendar, but it is food for thought.  Will report on progress....

What are YOU doing to stay on top of major projects?  

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