I heard this weekend that playwright Neil Simon wrote for seven months of the year, rested for five. Why? He was honouring his Cycle of Creativity.
Now, we can, too. You have time for this. Repeat after me. Think. Work. Stop. Repeat. Think. Work. Stop.
I’m fresh from a screenwriting workshop with the amazing Cynthia Whitcomb. Fresh is not the term often attached to a Saturday and Sunday spent in a boardroom but in this case, the word fits. I see my writing and my options in bright new ways thanks to Cynthia’s ability to share her passion for writing, talent for bringing words to life in pictures and experience of 40 years in the movie/TV business. Of the thousands of bytes of information I took from this weekend, her description of the Cycle of Creativity stands highest. Imagine a pie divided in three equal pieces. One piece is Brahma, what Cynthia calls the BAM! moment, the ‘cool! I’m so inspired’ idea that grabs hold and urges you to put pen to paper or finger to key. The next piece is Vishnu, a pretty word for work. Hard work. Lots of work that make the idea a reality. Finished your creation? Next is Shiva, the stop and rest piece. It all makes so much sense it sounds simplistic. Yet seeing the pie, reading the words and best of all hearing the affirmation from a sucessful writer has done much to alleviate the guilt attached to ‘not working hard enough’ while silencing that cranky inner voice insisting that I drop this writing act and get a real job. “Our culture does not honour shiva,” Cynthia told us point blank, and it is true. Workplace heroes are the ones who give up vacations and work night after night of overtime, not those who back away from their desks to take their loved ones on a much-needed getaway. Artists are lauded for volume and frequency of product more often than quality of same. Work is necessary and can be fulfilling in itself. But without ideas, and without time to recharge, how substantial and sustainable can the output be?
You know the answer. We all do.
Cynthia shared the Neil Simon example to make the point. Being able to honour his cycle clearly worked for him and for the millions who enjoy his plays and their screen incarnations. Say it with me. Yes, I can honour our creative cycle, and I will. Avoid the pitfall of the Brahma junkie, take the high generated by your idea and plunge into Vishnu, emerging when the project is done or at a resting place to honour shiva. Take two months to see Australia, or take an afternoon to clean up your desk, whatever works that isn’t work to you.
Think. Work. Stop. I feel better already. How about you?