In the absence of balance, things can’t ever be as you like it. The kind of power struggles and rampant egomania for which Hollywood film sets are notorious is actually a psychodrama that gets played out within every individual from one day to the next, and many times over whenever a substantial project is undertaken. Productions get stuck, and so do people, often for the same exact reasons: agendas are competing when they need to be harmonising. All the world’s a stage and all the men and women players – but maybe someone’s hogging the limelight and delivering someone else’s lines. Maybe someone’s forgotten that many hands make light (Shakespearean comedy) work.
Utilise your correct self
Tara Mohr, expert on conscious leadership and the creator of the Playing Big Leadership program for women, provides a compelling take on why individuals find themselves in various renditions of their own personal Development Hell. “As creatives governing our own careers, we have to bring many skillsets – many different selves, even – to the diverse activities we do on a daily basis. When we bring the wrong self to the table, we get paralysed.” She says the key to maximising creative productivity lies in utilising your correct self for every step of the process.
Mohr believes there are three voices that every creator must employ at particular times. She says most problems in creative lives arise from bringing the wrong self to the task at hand. We under-utilise one role and over-use another. “A thriving creative career requires consciously shifting between the three voices.”
Dominant during the early stages of the creative process, the inner artist is open to receiving inspiration and fostering innovative concepts. The artist flourishes in an environment of curiosity, novelty, play, and is best served in a ‘haven environment’, away from the opinions, impressions, and judgments of others. This is the screenwriter, driven by a desire to go beyond ordinary horizons and tell stories in exciting new ways. For the practicing artist, eccentricity is a badge of honour and compromise a kind of death.
This stage calls for that part of the self who revises, trims, structures. While the artist forgets about other people, the editor reaches out to seek feedback, gauge reaction, and ensure that work effectively communicates the artist’s purpose. This is the director tasked with ratifying the screenwriter’s vision, managing deadlines and budgetary constraints, marshalling every possible resource to translate an artwork into a successful commodity. Organisation, pragmatism, delegation: these are the chief powers of the inner editor.
The domain of the inner agent is marketing work to potential stakeholders and sourcing the best channels of distribution. The agent is courageous and market-savvy, a champion of both the screenwriter’s artistic vision and the director’s technical expertise. She is the fire-stamping producer, bringing faith and energy to the business of seeing that everybody gets paid. She sells and schmoozes, brunches and lunches, makes some calls and takes others, she faxes the contracts and monitors the fine print. Most of all she believes passionately in the work and does not rest until it’s ‘out there’.
Putting It All Together
Because the creative process is never linear, discerning when (and how fully) to engage your composite selves is the great skill of the process; no two projects are ever created in quite the same way. The good news is that our ability to deploy our most relevant selves can be enhanced by experience – and by being conscious of the three voices to begin with.
Each inner archetype has a distinctive way of being: “The artist explores what he doesn't know. The editor brings to bear what he does know. The agent advocates for what she wants.” It’s clear that an inner editor can disrupt the creative process by evaluating work too prematurely, with too closed a mind or too narrow an analytical eye. The inner artist at a business meaning will prove naive, overly shy, intransigent, or simply get steamrolled into submission. And an agent set loose in a studio will lose time to networking on social media, never knuckling down to the intensive creative processes that makes work fresh and thus valuable to begin with.
Mohr promotes a number of techniques for finding greater productivity in the creative process:
1. Know thyself
- Which of these roles represents your comfort zone?
- Do you revert to this role, even when it isn’t best for the task at hand? Do certain stresses trigger the reversion?
- Which role or roles do you avoid stepping into altogether?
- Do your inner roles co-operate and have trust in each other, or are they constantly warring on set?
2. Who are the people in your (inner) neighbourhood?
Get to know your inner roles by writing down a list of words or phrases that you associate with each. Give each of them a theme song, a colour, a favourite day of the week, a most effective time of day. The essence of this step is cultivating the personalities that belong to the selves, particularly those that may not be dominant for you. Perhaps you’re a naturally brilliant producer (your default), but don’t spend enough time exploring with your inner screenwriter. Possibly your director wields too much control, nipping great ideas in the bud before they’ve had a chance to flourish, or refusing to relinquish control of the process to anybody else in the circle.
3. Find focus around your working week
Decide in advance which voices are best suited for each task, meeting, or work period. Who under-delivered in the week just gone and who over-performed? Maybe the director needs to have a stern chat with the screenwriter.
4. Find the right gear
Thinking of the song or colour that you identified with your required self may help you the transition faster and more smoothly. Whatever works for you, remember that really matters is to remain mindful of your voices. When someone shows up who is detrimental to progress, have security escort them from the sound stage until it’s their moment to shine.
If William Said It, It Must Be True
As Shakespeare note in As You Like It, “each man in his time plays many parts.” When you allow your inner personalities to reign over the appropriate aspects of your creative life, you achieve the sense of freedom needed to grasp the opportunities you’ve worked so hard for. Examining your creative process and recognising when to let each self-occupy the centre stage is a powerful step towards rejecting paralysis and self-sabotage, and to ending up on the A-list of whatever field of endeavour you choose.
We want to hear from you…
What has past experience taught you about your three inner creative personalities? Have you ever experienced self-sabotage because you brought the wrong self to a meeting? Which techniques for identifying and harmonising your selves work best for you?
If your creative side is dying to be expressed in a more technical way, you may be interested in expanding your career options through a course in our courses in Digital Media Technologies, Website Development, Digital and Interactive Games and more.