To produce or not to produce?
Quiet on the set…
…And a well-rehearsed story begins to unfold with full cast and crew. This story has indeed been in process for far longer than many can ever imagine, because long before casting, acquiring funding or even writing the script, there were simple impressions, vignettes, and ideas that first began to dance in the heart and mind of an individual who would later dare to take the next steps in bringing a story to life.
As a singer-songwriter and recording-performing artist, I have witnessed this process time and time again, and in every instance, find myself awed by the magical process of seeing a rough concept/idea that existed solely in my head evolve into a fully realized piece of music. Because I invest SO much emotion and focus into crafting a song, I typically choose to create music that feels good to me; songs that I will enjoy replaying or performing multiple times over the years. But there are times that certain song ideas show up that are a snapshot of a contrasting moment in time that also seem to ask to be expressed in some way, shape or form. However, just like a film-maker, even though a story may be fully formed in the mind of its creator and can easily come pouring out, it is still up to the individual to decide whether or not to “break ground” or, once the process begins, whether or not to continue to invest further time and resources to bring it to fuller fruition.
For many artists, any vivid story with lots of compelling detail is very much worth exploring, and, in truth, there are people who occupy every conceivable emotional space and place who can benefit in some way from every type of story or song. BUT, when it comes to YOUR movie, YOUR next song - a.k.a. YOUR next creation of life experience - perhaps it could be cool to be more mindful of what YOU set into motion? “To produce or not to produce?”, is always up to YOU.
When your story runs amok
On the other hand, what do you do when a story you’d rather not produce has started moving forward seemingly without your permission; as if the musicians you hired, or the actors, camera operators, set designers, and production team never heard the words, “Stop!” or “Cut!” and have gone deeper into the story than you ever intended – even to the extent of seeing posters and banner ads with “coming soon” plastered all over your world? You may find yourself first wanting to shout “STOP!!!” or “CUT!!!” louder since they clearly didn’t hear you the first 16 times, but, no matter how loud, sad, angry, or outraged you get, the band plays on, the film continues to roll, and “Coming Soon!” is happening sooner and sooner.
At this point, you may be crazy with anger or pain and wanting heads to roll! How dare THEY continue this process without your blessing! How could THEY do this to you, when you took the time to carefully choose every single person & detail for YOUR project! These were your “peeps,” your creative family, your instruments, how could they continue to ignore YOUR repeated shouts and pleading of “NOOOOO!!!!”? But, alas, while you continued to invest in your escalating unrest and protest, that crappy song or film is no longer “Coming Soon,” but now showing in theaters across the land and being broadcast on radio stations far and wide.
You’re devastated. Your heart sinks and… it’s meltdown time.
After a few days of licking your wounds and feeling sorry for yourself, you come to grips with the idea that it is what it is and make peace with the fact that you simply cannot undo what has been done. It certainly would be understandable if you decided to step away and never produced another film or piece of music again; no one would blame you. Really. But as an artist who lives to create, and creates to live, no matter how hard you try to shut the operation down, new stories continue to dance in your head and your creative team continues to poke at you to get started on the next project. You ultimately push past your exhaustion to cave to their wishes (even though your body and mind tell you that now is NOT the time) and reluctantly step in front of your keyboard or take up your pen to begin the journey of your next project/creation.
Because of the fresh wounds from that last fiasco, you’re determined to make sure THAT never happens again! You screen your cast, musicians, and crew even MORE carefully, stay on top of every minute detail during every waking moment and QA the crap out of every second, because, by gosh, you’ve learned the hard way that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The problem is, now you barely sleep and your body & mind are completely out of balance. You’ve become a micro-manager from hell, getting little to no enjoyment out of a process that is normally your raison d’être, and even with your obsessive attention to detail, this project starts moving in the very same direction as the last…
…something magical happens: One heck of a powerful tornado tears through your town and you have no choice but to shut down and step away until the storm passes.
While this may seem like a mega-bummer from the outside looking in, a very wise part of you thanks the heavens for this intervention, and even though your well-meaning peeps are ready and willing to pick up right where you left off once the storm had moved on, you opt to make a new decision.
Pushing the “pause” button
Rather than continue to forge ahead in a direction that no longer serves you or your team, you have the wisdom to know that it’s time to step away for a little while before resuming. You break the news to your cast, musicians, and crew, and even though a few huff and puff, they quickly realize that you are resolute in your decision and that you truly believe this will not only benefit the project, but everyone involved in the long run. This recharge time will give everyone the opportunity to remember why they signed on to your project to begin with, will help each of you be able to deliver your best when you reconvene, and you’ll get to see the project with fresh eyes and ears.
Much to your delight and surprise, practically every member of your team wholeheartedly agrees! Granted, there were a couple of your peeps who put up a bit of a fight, since they were right in the midst of a really intense scene or section of music, and the momentum that was rolling made it quite a challenge to stop; but because YOU decided to stand firm in your decision and were even willing to lovingly release them from their contracts with you to pursue other avenues, even they decided to stand down and roll with it.
Unplugging to plug in to truth
With all the talks and negotiations sorted out and behind you, you decide to commit to your sabbatical 100%, and soon really get clear about what you truly want this next creation to look and feel like. You start to get excited and are tempted to round everyone up to get back to work, but after making your first contact, you quickly realize you jumped the gun a bit. No worries, you think, as it was only one person who just-so-happened to be one of your most loyal supporters, so this was the perfect way to test the waters with no harm done.
It is here that you’re starting to see that you are, even at this stage, walking a new path – and waves of recognition, hope, and happiness begin to flow.
You continue your reverie, and with each passing day, insights and ideas continue to trickle in:
People who you once helped and inspired have come out of the woodwork to offer love and assistance to YOU – and with no strings attached or expectation of returning the favor.
You have come to discover that your peeps are all doing just fine, and perhaps for the first time ever, you truly “get” that you are NOT – and never were - their only resource: Each of them is also a powerful creator with her/his own creative team, and this really makes your heart smile.
With each passing day, you get better and better at listening to your body to give it what it needs to thrive and - at the advice of a fellow fabulous creator - have decided to be “ruthless for your own well-being,” for you have found that if you’re not strong and clear, all you actually do is interfere; if you truly want to help, then be in a position where you can truly give the best of yourself.
You have remembered that focus STILL is everything, that even with the best of intentions, rehashing unpleasant past movies or songs over and over, or acting from a place “prevention” actually feeds the very thing you would hope to prevent, whereas focusing onward, upward and forward on what you want and why you want it, feeds THAT.
You are able to know where you truly want to go and that even the last project that seemed like the worst-case-scenario at the time, has turned out to be one of THE greatest gifts you have ever received because it reminded you of ALL of this, plus:
-You are always ultimately the one who creates the mood, environment, and direction for ANY creation.
-You are the one who puts out the casting call, the one who ultimately “hires” them, and whether you realize it or not, your focus, expectation, and reaction to them, gives them “permission” to proceed accordingly.
-Rather than wait until you are so far down the line that you’ve got a massive operation in progress and it practically takes an act of God to stop production - or wait until your not-so-cool creation is showing in theaters or filling the airwaves (aka fully manifested) – there are always opportunities to step away and refocus long before your project goes off the rails.
-No matter what, every new day offers an opportunity to start fresh, change directions, and create something bigger, better, and even more fabulous.
…And one day, you stop asking or wondering if, when, or whether you’re ready. You simply wake up, step onto a new path, decide to keep walking, let your inner compass guide you (rather than the peanut gallery), proceed at your own pace, walk to the beat of your own drum, connect in new ways with people you truly love, and then:
Quiet on the set…
The Bottom Line: Coaching the Coach – “Reel” Life & Your Next Song
No matter where you or your clients may be in your journey of creating, experiencing, or transforming your story, I have found these ideas to ring true time after time:
-While observing unpleasant things in the world, having funky thoughts, or feeling negative emotion is completely natural and understandable, you CAN stay in the director/composer’s chair by choosing to only fully “produce” (feed via your attention and intention) what you WANT to experience. In most cases, it’s best to just feel what you feel in the moment, then take Elsa’s (from “Frozen”) advice and “Let it Go!”
-Rather than wait for mega-contrast to “make” you shut down and step away, the more you give yourself permission to be truly ruthless for your own well-being EVERY day - to say “yes” only when you know you CAN go forward with clarity, focus and excellence, and “no” when it would compromise your physical/mental/emotional health and life flow – the more you AND your creative team (your family, friends, clients, co-workers/etc.) actually BENEFIT from anything you would create together.
-That even when you do still choose to ignore the guidance coming from your inner compass to please others or do what you feel “must” be done, there is always a gift to be discovered in EVERY experience, a “pause” button available for you to push as needed, an opportunity to learn more about yourself and life, and a way to start moving in a new direction.
-The more you focus confidently onward, upward, and forward, the more life can and will back you up in ways that transcend the imagination of even the most prolific creator!
Here’s to creating a “reel life” and song that is truly worthy of the creator extraordinaire, el maestro, master film-maker that is YOU, and to giving yourself full permission to live life on FIRE, on YOUR terms, as you ENJOY the journey of allowing your next masterpiece to come to light!
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