Monday, April 16, 2012

Mental health days: The care and feeding of a muse

Back in the day I had a News Director who realized creative people get burned out every so often. I don't mean burned out to the extent you change careers; but when you have to get creative every single day, eventually your muse goes into vapor lock and needs a lounge chair and a drink with an umbrella in it.

Anyway, every two weeks or so you'd either get a day off the street to work on something special or you'd get assigned to what we called "v-o patrol." The desk would give one reporter and photog all the voiceovers and vo/sots to pick up. Still work, yes, but without really having to bother the muse. The next day it seemed you'd always knock out a great package.

I don't expect News Directors to do this anymore, not with skeleton crew staffs and newscasts that are longer than Gone With The Wind. So you'll have to do this yourself off the clock. Remember, the muse wants what the muse wants. And every once in awhile, the muse wants some time off.

As Captain Kirk once said, the more complex the mind, the greater the need for simplicity of play. (I'm assuming anyone in this business has a complex mind. Except, of course, for the beancounters.) Anyway, when you're off the clock, give your brain a short vacation. Do something mindless. It might be in vogue to watch a deep, meaningful movie that makes you think, but that's not what you want. You want something in which you don't have to think. You want The Hangover, not The Descendants. Something that takes your brain out for an airing. You want to play spider solitaire, to play with the cat. The key word here is "play."

While you can't phone it in, your muse can. The care and feeding of a muse is a delicate proposition. Don't take it lightly.


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