Creative Tension in FilmCreative tension?  What does tension have to do with creativity?  Tension is defined as the act of stretching or the condition of being stretched. It can also be mental, emotional, and nervous strain. But what would happen if we consciously let tension compel us to grow in life and work?

A good example is found in the acting.  Here, tension creates dynamic relationships on screen. Directors create it and actors use it.

A stretched rubber band seeks resolution. And, as it relaxes, it creates a momentum that propels it forward. Now, if you aim the rubber band at a specific target, it will also have direction.  Can we apply this principle to our life and find tension resolutions that will yield focused forward momentum? Please note: tension in our context is a stretching that produces forward momentum. It is not using stress, strain, or deadlines to push you.

So, how can you use creative tension to move you forward in life?

Understanding Your Truth

To start the process, sit down with a pen and paper and ask yourself: What do you want? What do you want in a career? What do you want in relationships? You can get as detailed as you wish.  In the realm of acting, for example, ask what do want to create? What do you want in your actors? Keep asking.

In answering the above questions, imagine anything is possible. Speak your truth fearlessly.  Do not censor or sabotage yourself with negativity, because until you try it, you won’t know what is or is not possible. Everything else is mere speculation. If you want an Oscar, then write it down.  That’s your truth. If you are single and want to be married, then that’s your truth. If you want to be the producer of a profitable film, then that is your truth. The “what do you want” question is about your genuine desire, not whether or when it can become a reality.

Be clear and specific about the result you want to create. Form a mental picture of the result. Look at your desired outcome from a variety of angles. Exactly what will it look like? How will you feel when you have it? Take a moment and feel it in your body. Transport yourself into the moment with as much detail as you can imagine.  What will you be wearing? Who will be with you when you realize your vision? Who are when you create this outcome? Another great way to prompt yourself, as you articulate your vision, is to use visual imagery and media.

Once you have a clear vision of what you want to create, define where you are now.  Again do this as an assessment of circumstances, free of judgment.  Be gentle with yourself. Remember you are looking for a measurement, not an interpretation or evaluation of where you are now.

The difference between where you are and where you want to be is a gap within which resides a healthy tension.  This tension seeks resolution. Your ultimate destination is similar to the target you aimed the rubber band at. The choices you make and actions you take, in resolving the tension, propel you towards your desired destination.

Once you know what you want, you can organize your current resources more effectively to move in the right direction. Suppose your vision/target is to win an Oscar. Is your current reality that you’ve never taken an acting class in your life? That’s quite a gap. So what actions might you take to move toward your intended destination? If getting an Oscar is not important to you, then there is no creative tension. The vision must matter so much that it pushes you forward to create it.

And remember, as you move through your process, celebrate every victory, no matter how small, along the way.  Every major accomplishment arises from a series of smaller achievements. Make enjoying the process as important as reaching your target and your final victory will taste much sweeter.