All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the jigiwatt scene in Back to the Future:
What can we learn?
When in doubt, use nature. Back in the fifties, there were only a handful of ways to generate that much electricity. Doc could tie the car to a hydroelectric dam, build a turbine on the back of the motor, or race the car off the edge of a massive waterfall. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the time, resources or clearance to employ those kinds of strategies. But what he did have was a weather event. Literally, a bolt of lightning. Proving, that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Einstein was right. Also proving, that the imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man. Feynman said that. And so, whenever we’re faced with a creative block, the smart thing to do is design systems and structures that invite nature as our collaborator. To align our work with its geometric order and rhythm of the natural universe. Because once we learn how to harness that lightning and channel it into the flux capacitor known as our brains, there’s no limit to what we can do. How did nature solve this same problem?
Make yourself more strikeable. The problem with lightning is, you never know where or when it’s going to strike. Nature is unpredictable like that. The job of the creator, then, is to actually become the lightning rod. To provide an easy path for creativity to find its way to his brain, lest its electricity dissipates harmlessly to the ground. Because inspiration, while helpful when it shows up, most of the time, needs to be yanked out of hiding. You have to create it, channel it, command it and commit to meeting it halfway. And if it decides to take the day off, you have to go over to its house, beat down the door, drag its ass out of bed at put it work. That’s something all prolific creators have in common. They don’t wait on inspiration, they work on discipline. Personally, anytime I find I’m having trouble writing, I can usually trace to not having read enough. Because sentences are my lightning rods. What are yours?
Everything is fair game. Marty would have been stuck in past without that flyer about the clock tower. Thank god he never threw it away. But that’s the value of being entirely open and vulnerable to every shred of stimuli that crosses your path. Even trash. You never know where you might use it. In fact, my entire career was born out of a nametag I saw in a trashcan. That was my moment of conception. Do you remember yours? If not, perhaps you’re not paying close enough attention. Because if you want the world to arrange itself for your creative work, you have to become a master of deep democracy. To allow anything you think, everyone you meet, and everything you experience become part of your professional life. That’s how artists create from the inside out. They work as the convergence of everything that’s ever happened to them. All devouring mental omnivores. How often you overlook people, places or experiences that might offer meaningful ideas?
Share your favorite movie moment of conception in the comments section!
* * * *Scott GinsbergThat Guy with the NametagAuthor. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.
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