Ditch the Drama
When I was a young actor (and for a while after I was no longer so young) there was a lot of drama in my life. I just couldn’t do anything without making a complete production of it. Breakups, new love, class dramas, audition dramas, the drama of waiting to find out, all were fertile ground for my fertile imagination. What all of this wasn’t was a good way to live my life. It’s fortunate that I was young or I am pretty sure I’d have crashed from the constant adrenaline spikes. Not only was it hard on my body and peace of mind it was hell on my creativity.
Creativity takes focus. Drama also takes focus. You can’t put your attention in two places at the same time, you can shift but you can’t really multitask. All the energy that was going into the saga of my life could have been put to far better use going into my work. I’d also have saved a bundle on therapy.
But we learn things when we learn them, not a minute sooner. What I came to is that there is a place for drama, on the stage, screen, page, and canvas. Not so much in our day-to-day lives. Life is often filled with dramas over which we have no control. Jobs end unexpectedly, relationships crash, people die, we move across the country or the world, we have children, or, or, or… Those things happen, and we roll with the changes as best we can. But for the sake of our art (and our sanity) minimizing the unnecessary dramas as much as possible will serve us best.
Often, when we live in the realm of the dramatic, we are just trying to avoid the hard work of getting to our art or our life; trying to avoid the difficulties and anxieties that creating and deep living can elicit. Way better to focus on how crazy our neighbor is making us with his insistence on the fence between our properties being painted the exact shade the condo committee approved. Yup, let’s focus on that rather than the fact that the main character in our novel seems to have undergone an inexplicable, and unworkable, personality change.
The truth is that the anxiety we are trying to avoid by creating tons of drama in our life isn’t going to go anywhere. Not only have we created drama where none needed to be, we are still anxious about not getting to our work or our life, adding more drama into the mix.
Drama is a fantastic avoidance tool. It allows us to take our attention away from the main event. What it doesn’t do is make the main event not the main event. It doesn’t make the itch to create go away. It doesn’t let us say what it is we have to say in the way we have to say it. It just pushes the truth of who we are and what we have to contribute to the side. On top of all that, it makes us hate our self in the morning.
So the next time you find yourself getting into a tizzy about something supremely unimportant rather than getting to what really needs attention, take a step back, take a breath, and ditch the drama.