Creative energy in any field is a gift we can learn from. Consider this story:
Auguste Rodin was approaching the height of his career success when he was awarded a huge commission: to create a statue of Honore de Balzac, a titan of French literature. Creating the statue was supposed to take 18 months, but instead, it took Rodin seven years. Why? Mainly because Rodin dove into his subject with heart, head, and soul.
He became obsessed with capturing the essence of Balzac and embarked on a journey of discovery that was similar to Balzac’s research for character development. Rodin read all Balzac’s lengthy novels, interviewed people about his character, and struggled to fathom his personality. In short, he became obsessed.
In all, he did 50 different studies for the statue — a fact the committee who chose him for the honor was not at all happy about. It threatened to cut off his fee and to give the commission to another artist. Ultimately, Rodin finished the statue and today it is considered by some to be the first modern sculpture – one that transcends the physical and captures psychological aspects of its subject in bronze.
What does Rodin’s obsession have to do with us as writers? Everything! When I recently read a note about the 50 studies he completed, I instantly connected with him. As creatives, whatever our field, obsession is our curse and our blessing. It can almost drive us crazy, but it also drives us to explore untapped territory of the heart and soul. So here’s the plus side of extreme intensity:
Obsession keeps us pursuing a project long after others might give up and quit.
Obsession gives us the focus we need to bring laser intensity to our work.
Obsession keeps us researching until we find the gold amid the dross of life.
Obsession puts us into the zone – the place where time stops and joy begins.
Obsession gives us the strength to close our ears to naysayers who discourage us.
Right now, you may be obsessed with some part of a story you’re telling. I know I am! You may feel discouraged and on the wrong track, but unable to let go. Some would see this as a problem, but let’s see it as a gift: The gift of intensity, of focus, of persistence, of discovery, of innovation – and all write on!
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