When you begin to act on your creativity, what you find inside may be more valuable than what you produce for the external world. – Eileen M. Clegg
When we spark creativity, we’re sparking a moment of self-exploration and inner understanding. This is important to understand from the outset: many people mistakenly think that “creativity” and “productivity” are synonyms.
The problem is that creativity isn’t necessarily about producing work. A creative mindset can help you to produce more inspired work, but putting pressure on a moment of self-exploration might actually harm your creative process.
As an actor, you are obviously concerned with the creative process and having art to show for your mental work. This is very possible, but your first forays into creativity should focus on understanding your process instead of enacting it.
Seeing your creativity in terms of output can ruin your sense of self and prevent further creativity. Author C Diane Ealy, Ph.D, writes that she has witnessed women describe fantastic creative experiences and then immediately discount them because there was no immediate material gain:
These women dismiss, discount, and rob themselves of their most powerful aspect, the characteristic which defines who they uniquely are as individuals – their creativity. – The Women’s Book of Creativity
So Why “On Demand”?
Sparking creativity on demand seems like it would ruin the moment; but for an actor, it could actually make the moment. This is because during a performance, a good method actor will be tapping into their own inner life and memories to enhance the character. Creating a moment of self-exploration will deepen this connection to the character and enhance an emotional performance.
The creativity we invest in our day-to-day lives is often the most extraordinary since… it can give far more meaning, and even sanctity, to our lives. – Riane Eisler
Attempting a creative mindset once a day will make attaining it easier over time. It also gives you the chance to delve into your own psyche regularly, understanding what motivates your creativity and inspiring you for, at least, the rest of the day.
There are habits you can form, which if done daily will improve your creativity at all times and help you to induce the right mindset on demand.
- Exercise: this improves blood flow to the brain, giving it a power boost. It can also induce a meditative state, freeing your mind to explore itself while your body is preoccupied with a physical rhythm.
- Mimicry: find a piece of art, writing, or film that strikes a chord with you, and try to mimic the style. It sounds counter-intuitive, but attempting a creative process that isn’t your own can actually help you understand your own style and inspiration much better.
- Socialise: with other creatives, of course. Bounce ideas around and accustom your mind to on-the-spot group brainstorming. You will learn to create in a team, but also train your brain to respond to ideas with more ideas, instead of just passively receiving them.
- Take notes: any idea you have should be written down immediately. Small witticisms, inventions, or ways to deliver a speech – everything is valuable. This will not only teach you to value your creativity, it will also provide you with starting points for later creative moments.
In the Moment
If you’re in the middle of a rehearsal, you might find yourself needing to find a new angle for the scene, or a new way to approach your delivery. This is when you need to spark your creativity immediately – “on demand”
Because we teach method acting here at Brian Timoney, we make frequent mention of sense memory: this is using your senses to delve into an emotional memory that triggers an emotional performance. You can similarly use your senses to trigger a creative mindset.
When you do organised, daily exercises – such as mimicking someone’s art or exercising – play music, perhaps one particular album. Something without too many lyrics is a good idea. Now, during rehearsal, you can play a song from that album and enter a creative mindset much more quickly.
One more trick to enhancing your creative powers in the moment is, very simply, to look up. This is because your mind and your body are very closely connected, and can influence each other’s behaviour. Try looking down at your feet and feeling ecstatically happy – it’s hard, isn’t it?
When you look up, you not only lift your head but also your spirits. You feel happier, and a broad ceiling or sky to look at gives your brain – very literally – room to visualise. You will think of a new psychological gesture or tone of delivery in next to no time.
Change Your Perspective
If you’re in the middle of a scene you can’t exactly socialise and bounce ideas. However, you can change your perspective by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
If you’re struggling to answer the question, “how would my character enter the room?” instead try asking, “how will other characters react when I enter the room?” You can then work backwards to answer your original question.
If the script says people are shocked to see you in the room, you might take from that a bold entrance, or a sinister one. Instead of struggling over the same question for hours, you can spark a creative train of thought by asking questions from different perspectives, just like this.
The greatest scientific discoveries were all made by young people, who were able to say ‘Well you know, damn it, two plus two equals five because why not?’ They are at that time in their lives where they want to risk. – Jodie Foster
Ms Foster is talking about scientific discovery, but as an actor she relates to this mindset because she knows that creatives must take risks. When you’re sparking creativity on demand, or in the moment, it is always a risk. However, it’s a risk that’s worth taking; understanding yourself, your potential, and how to act with authenticity is a gift.
If you’re passionate, creative, and willing to push yourself to increase your acting creativity then why not apply for our Ultimate Acting Programme?