Sunday, November 30, 2008

Git yer motor runnin...

Motivation is the key to every accomplishment. I find it to be my biggest hurdle when it comes to creativity. I can't tell you how many times I have set aside time to sit and write, only to stare at a blank computer screen. It's hard to get thoughts to flow freely in an allotted time. My creative surges tend to happen at the most inconvenient times. My best ideas come to me as I am just about to fall asleep, then I am too lazy to get up and write it down. I always think, I'll remember it, but usually I don't. When I do write it down and look at it the next day it's either incoherent or just stupid. Something about that inner voice that doesn't translate well on paper.

Another inappropriate time for my left brain to wake up is during meetings at work. Being a comedian, I spend a lot of time observing people. Mannerisms, tone of voice, ethnic tones and other habits are all fodder for comedic material. Instead of paying attention to the meeting, I find myself writing little stories in my head. Dangerous behavior when you are supposed to be listening. It gets me in trouble sometimes, but if I can get a few jokes out of it, it's worth it.

Inspiration is easy for me. I get inspired to write all the time. It comes from different places. I can watch an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Larry David will inspire me to write. Something about his free flowing improvisational style really moves me. He makes it all look so easy. I find myself saying, damn, why didn't I think of that. So simple, yet so brilliant. I guess I find the simple analogies of everyday life are the funniest because they are clever and everyone can relate to them. It's amazing how hard it is to write these things and make them feel fresh and new. The same goes for Woody Allen. I can watch a movie like Annie Hall so many times and still feel inspired by it's genius. Simplistic, basic and real. It just seems so natural for these guys. How do they do it? The answer is they keep at it. They never quit.
Woody Allen made the famous quote "Eighty percent of success is just showing up". Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Other inspirational triggers for me are songwriters. John Lennon, Ray Davies, Pete Townshend all wake up that left brain for me. I became a Dylan fan later in life. His lyrical mastery makes me want to write poetry all day. I may not understand what he is saying, but if I could match his imagery, then I would be a success. It it were only that easy. I think the key to an amazing artistic talent, like Dylan, is making it look like anybody can do it. Somehow, I have this illusion that it comes easy to these folks, but it takes time and practice and motivation. I can only imagine how much of Dylan's writing never materializes into anything. He struggled just like any artist.

Distractions are my enemy. I can sit down with the intention of writing, next thing you know I am on Facebook and My Space and looking for songs and videos. Next thing you know, my writing session is over and I have to return to my boring life. My trouble is I still consider this writing thing a hobby. Something to do outside of work. I need to make it a job. If I had no choice but to write, maybe I would actually produce something.

Jerry Seinfeld made a movie called "Comedian". It's a brilliant documentary about how a comedian writes and develops new material. As a comic, I find this very inspiring. It's nice to see someone as successful as Seinfeld go through the same struggles as a schmuck like me. It makes me feel powerful. I watch this movie often and every time I do, I am moved to write. Whether I actually do, is another story. Jerry tells a story about how he would write once in a while when he started out and would be lazy about it. One day he saw a group of construction workers going back to work after a lunch break and he thought, look at these guys, they do this everyday. They probably hate their jobs, but they get their asses up and go to work because they have no choice. If I love what I do, I should at least have the same discipline. You have to write like you have no choice.

Inspiration is not enough. Motivation requires discipline and it's hard. It appears that even if you love what you do, there is always something else to do instead.

I have heard repeatedly from successful writers that you have to write everyday. It's a muscle that needs exercise.

This blog is my exercise.

One- two-three-four...write... two three four...

By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that tomorrow 12/1, is the Woodman's 73rd birthday. Happy Birthday Woody, now stop trying to top Annie Hall. Actually, I may not like all his work, but I do admire the volume he produces. An amazing body of work. Just mind boggling.

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