Thursday, May 15, 2014

Unlock the creative YOU

A recent study conducted by Stanford University (so you KNOW it’s legit) found that people were way more creative when they walked as opposed to sat. The study was conducted with human subjects. I was curious whether they had rats run a maze and then see if they could come up with better stories for 2 BROKE GIRLS.

These findings are no surprise to me. Often, while writing, I’ll pace with a yo-yo. (Still waiting for the study to conclude that yo-yo’s are the key to creativity – get busy Stanford.) But moving around seems to free your brain a little. Perhaps it’s just the increased activity. I don’t know. I was rejected by Stanford.

And even if you don’t get that great breakthrough, you still get your cardio in for the week!

Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman wrote ANNIE HALL while walking around Manhattan. If David and I are working on a script and get stuck we’ll often take a walk just to clear our heads. That’s one of the advantages of having an office on a movie lot – cool places to walk to. We’d stroll through the New York streets and occasionally duck into the Star Trek stage. You get good ideas in outer space. Perhaps Yale should tackle that study.

Other writers I know have unusual methods of working. One prominent writer/showrunner likes to lie on the floor and dictate the script to an assistant while his staff is commanded to sit around him and watch. That would not be my preferred method.

George Orwell and Marcel Proust used to write in bed. That wouldn’t work for me either. Too many crumbs.

Truman Capote wrote with a pencil in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. That seems so odd to me. Why write in pencil?

John Cheever wrote in his underwear. Do not try this and walking around the neighborhood at the same time.

T.S. Eliot supposedly tinted his face green with powder to look cadaverous when he wrote. Why? I don’t know. But I had that look without powder when I had to sit through CATS.

There’s a writing team of women who have it figured out. One floats on a raft in the pool while the other sits poolside with a computer and cocktail.  That's the AbFab writing regimen. 

But my favorite is author Charles Bukowski’s method. He said, “You must sleep with many beautiful women, drink beer like water, and lock yourself away until madness looms.”

Does this work?  Time to once again turn to science.

ATTENTION STANFORD COEDS: Your help is needed to participate in a clinical behavioral study. Must be beautiful. 

I'll let you know the results.

20 comments:

Bill Jones said...

Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist would take long walks outside the Supreme Court (in public, and without a security escort) when he needed to think over a case. Often he would take a law clerk with him to discuss the issues.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Harlan Ellison recommended writing one short story a day, followed by a medicinal lawsuit.

C. Warren Dale said...

There's a legend that says Aristotle taught his philosophy to his disciples while strolling the grounds.

Hollywoodaholic said...

There's a book out called "Daily Rituals" which lists the routines of many famous writers, thinkers and artists. Best takeaway I got was that you're only good for about 3-4 hours of heavy writing a day, beyond that is diminishing returns. I've definitely found that to be true. So why push?

David Milch is the guy who lies on his back and dictates, and that, of course is due to back issues.

Johnny Walker said...

Bizarrely, lots of different studies have shown that the presence of the colour green -- even if it's just a plant -- make people more creative, too.

Going for a walk in the countryside sounds like the perfect place to break your story!

Tim W. said...

Timely post, for me. Just the other day I watched a video of John Cleese talking about creativity and thought it might be something to pass onto you...
http://youtu.be/AU5x1Ea7NjQ

VP81955 said...

So we should check walkscore.com before moving into any Los Angeles neighborhood?

alkali said...

This study brought to you by the Aaron Sorkin Foundation.

RyderDA said...

FRIDAY QUESTION:

A recent piece by Esquire Magazine (link below) suggests that the BIG BANG THEORY has matured and morphed over time. In your experience, do shows become more successful when they mature and change, or do they lose out when they deviate from the basic successful premise they started with?

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/the-big-bang-theory-men?click=promo

Dan Ball said...

I've found that writing often inspires me to write, too.

Ben K. said...

I write by creating situations in which deadline pressure eventually outweighs my enormous self-doubt and terror of failure. Works every time, and ulcer medication is cheap.

Diminshed Skills said...

A Community writer, Andy Bobrow, shares why he suffers from SWs or "Shit Writing Syndrome" and how Dan Harmon "saved" him. Plus links to his writers draft and the shooting script for "Mixology Certification".


https://medium.com/@abobrow/d703b80ff3e5

http://www.scribd.com/doc/223692123/Community-209-Writers

http://www.scribd.com/doc/223926393/10-13-10-209-YellowRevDraft-C

Cap'n Bob said...

Stanford Research Institute also tested Uri Geller and declared him legit.

Ruth Harris said...

Simple: a body in motion is a mind in motion.

Just works that way.

BDG said...

Hemingway preferred to write at his standing desk. He claimed it increased his creativity and ability to concentrate. It might also explain why he preferred to write short stories.

Todd Everett said...

Dan Ball said...

I've found that writing often inspires me to write, too.

Most inspirational to me: an empty wallet, and the promise of a paycheck.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

My theory is that taking a walk distracts you just enough so that you're freed from the consciousness that you're writing and you can actually solve the problems you need to solve.

In a book for which he interviewed other screenwriters, William Goldman found out that the Coen brothers *drive* - long distances, sometimes - when they're stuck.

wg

Johnny Walker said...

Thanks for sharing that Andy Bobrow link. I'll be reading those scripts!

I think Ben's trick regarding deadlines is invaluable. Every so often a friend of mine and I will make a deal: We will do a certain amount of writing by a set date, and agree to forfeits if we don't. Usually it's donating an uncomfortable amount of money to charity. It's worked every single time we've done it.

Jim said...

FRIDAY QUESTION(S): What are your thoughts on the 2014-15 TV schedule? Do you see any winners as far as the new offerings? What network should be a winner?

Frankly, CBS should change its name to the NCIS network. Is that franchise too much of a good thing?
The schedules seem to be cop heavy and filled with procedural dramas. What are the chances that a show could be picked up with a private investigator like there was in the 70s and 80s?

Also, is the Variety Show like the one Maya Rudolph is putting together a risky venture for NBC? I read that Neil Patrick Harris also is pushing the idea for one with CBS. Do you think a variety show could work in this era?

Hank Gillette said...

According to multiple sources, President Johnson held meetings with aides and reporters while sitting on the toilet.