Chasing the Muse: Cultivating the Mind

The quote goes like this. “The mind is not a cage. It is a garden that requires cultivation.”

That goes for anyone and everyone. The human mind needs things that will enrich it. We live in a time where the pursuit of excellence, or the pursuit of leisure occupies the thoughts of a majority of people. While both are important, neither are so important that they should be pursued to the extreme.

Constant work, with no rest, wears a person down to nothing. Constant rest, with no work, makes the mind go fallow.

We need to find a way to balance between the two. To work and engage in relaxation.

When I talk about relaxation, I’m not talking about engaging with our T.V. families. Though I do love spending time with the Winchesters and the Gilmores.

I’m talking about things that will make our minds come alive.

Books are one thing that do that. Books are a trip. I mean it. Books take you places. Pick up the right book and you can be in a different world, or a different time.

Astronomer Carl Sagan said of Books:

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

Another thing that enriches a person, is a hobby.

I can hear the screeches now.

Hobbies get a bad rap in general nowadays. Why? I really don’t know. I suppose it’s because some consider people who practice something as a hobby, they aren’t serious about it.

I’m guilty of this assumption too, truth be told.

I shouldn’t be. Because I have a hobby. I’ve turned it into a profession because I’m passionate about it.

One of my hobbies is writing. I love it. I get to write and get paid for it.

This hobby of mine has led to opportunities that I’ve only dreamed of, or never even thought of. I’ve sold my books at Comic Conventions, been on panels at the same conventions, and I now run the publisher that published my first book.

My hobby is really starting to pay off!

Another one of my hobbies is acting. Which dovetails nicely into writing. With acting I get to portray characters on stage. With writing I get to act like those characters alone, in a locked room, and not be considered crazy.

Alright, joking aside. Acting delves into motivations behind a characters actions.A helpful way of doing this is through what Stanislavski called the magic if. The magic if is used to help actors open up their imaginations and discover new things about the character they’re playing. Lending context to the role that may not be on the page.

Something else about acting that lends to writing. There is a way of scoring a script to break down a character’s motivations. I’m talking about beats, objectives, and super-objectives. A beat divides up the scene into smaller chunks. An objective is about the characters drive in the scene itself. A super-objective is about the character’s overall motivation.

As hobbies go, this is one I’ve let go. I haven’t been on stage for years. Mostly due to raising a family. I hope to be back in the game soon.

The mind draws inspiration from what we feed it. If we feed it nothing but leisure, logic tells us it will be a bit lazy. If we do nothing but work, logically we can assume that it will be consumed with work issues, or be so tired it can do nothing but shut down.

Either way, the mind needs to be cultivated. Or it will become barren.

I…like that. I’ll allow it.

Thank you so much.


Bill Watterson: A Cartoonist’s Advice via Zen Pencils

Stanislavski’s Magic If

Scoring a script



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