This is my new motto: Do magic. I had to design a set for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for my scene design class, and on the day I was first trying to tell my teacher what I had in mind, I had a really difficult time putting it into words, because the design involved some complex lighting, and I had no idea how it could be done. After listening to me stumble over my words for a few minutes, he told me to simply tell him what I wanted to do. So, I started, “Well, if I could do magic…” When I was finished, he presented (without even hesitating) an easy, practical way of doing exactly what I wanted to do.
The moral is: turn the censor off. I’ve been reading this in every book, hearing it from every teacher, and seeing it in every class for the last year. In order to be creative, it’s absolutely necessary to shut off common sense, practicality, economics, convention, or whatever else might get in inspiration’s way.
For me, it’s my “internal editor.” When I’m writing, the left side of my brain wants to step in and say, “No, that’s not right. That won’t work. People won’t like that. That isn’t funny.” And the worst of all is: “That could be better.” That could be better gets me in all kinds of trouble, because I sit around obsessing about one or two little things and neglecting the big picture.
I have a friend who is a phenomenally gifted scene designer, but her censor is practicality. She sits at the drafting table thinking about materials and budget before she’s even begun drawing, and I’ve seen how it hinders her creativity…she allows practicality to stunt her ideas before they mature. Editing is a natural part of the process, but it comes after creation.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that shutting down the censor is a vital part of nearly every endeavor. It’s necessary for acting, singing, instrumental performance, writing, designing, directing, and dancing; and I imagine there are many other things that I’ve missed. Who likes watching inhibited dancers, self-conscious actors, or timid singers? It’s the performers that don’t hold anything back that thrill, terrify, inspire, and astonish us.
Furthermore, the idea of not holding back reverberates into everyday life a little bit, doesn’t it?