DEEP THOUGHTS . . . with Seth Godin
Seth writing positively about PROCESS, a.k.a. having and using standard actions, metrics, procedures, etc.
He says: "Process is your ace in the hole when your intuition stops working."
Artistically, nothing could be more true. You've heard of "writer's block" no doubt. The surest fix I know of is to just write. Write whatever. Write haiku in Klingon about boogers. Write an essay about what it was like growing up as a young girl during the Great Depression. Or go ahead and plow on further into your novel/play/screenplay/whatever, realizing that you very well may scrap every word you write later on. The Muse has a siphoning action; If you can get the ball rolling, it will soon snowball out of control!
Back to Seth: "If process makes you nervous, it's probably because it threatens your reliance on intuition. Get over it. The best processes leverage your intuition and give it room to thrive."
I couldn't agree more!
In her book "The Creative Habit"famed choreographer Twyla Tharp introduces the concept of "preparing to be creative". She may not have originated the idea, but she sure put it in easy to understand language. As I recall, the idea is to practice your technique and work towards perfecting it. It may seem tedious (say, practicing your grande jete over and over and over) but studious practice can spark off new ideas. At the very least it prepares you for when inspiration does take hold!
Torrid Affaire grew almost entirely out of process. I wrote up the plot on index cards, arranged them in an order that made sense, and wrote straight through using the cards as my guide. Occasionally, I'd skip a card and come back to it if I wasn't sure what to write. The point is, I used the process to leverage my intuition, and cranked out a fairly decent play in a couple of weeks.
I'm learning to not fear process now. One of my mentors once told me that talent will only take you so far. A competitor who has their technique down will easily pass you up on the road to success, if you depend on talent alone. But talent plus technique . . . that's unstoppable!