The Creative Spark! – Live the Research

Do you want to master your studies? And by that I mean, find a spark of passion that makes your research bigger than your dreams? Because if you do, your chances of success spike.

You see, I know researchers studying homelessness, but they wouldn’t sleep in a homeless shelter during sabbatical?as part of their research. But some academics would. These academics are crazed with passion.

For instance, do you remember the story of the man researching wolves who lived with an actual wolf pack? Or did you hear of the MD who tended to gunshot wounds on Iraqis post 9-11? They lived their research. And not only do the stakes rise the more personal you make your research, but also a sense of purpose surges.

This article is about acting, but until I win auditions for plays, I’m a half-hearted novice. I write about comedy, but until I enroll in a comedy club, I’m small-game. So, pick your research topic carefully. Once you do, live it.

Judith Weston in her book The Film Director’s Intuition tells actors to do more than just live out the lives of the character’s they play. I take her acting tips (in bold below) and twist them to apply to student life.

When acting with others, make their needs, opinions, feelings, and dreams bigger than your own. When reading authors, fixate on their ideas. Make their revelations as thrilling as fireworks shot from your rooftop. Remember, your essays shine when you embrace the love.

If You’re in an acting rut, do the opposite of what you previously did. If you write C essays without outlines, start outlining. If you get B- grades for cramming, spread out your study sessions. If you get no results exercising one day a week, exercise six. If something’s not working, try the opposite.

When the right answer doesn’t dawn on you, think of three wrong answers. For instance, if You’re stumped over the names of Canada’s last three prime ministers, substitute in Mr. Kangaroo, Homer, and Pinocchio. Pinocchio might even score you part-marks. Seriously though, coming up with three wrong answers can help you get unstuck.

Aim for truth and play in acting, not perfection. Let honesty direct your research. If your gut cringes at a popular notion, don’t bleat like shaved sheep. Instead, explore your reactions. Play with learning. And don’t aim for perfection?perfection leads to pain.

Pick actors you admire, and mimic them. Pick intellectuals you admire?and copy their styles. Choose giants like Foucault or Kahneman, snafuing their ideas, vocabularies, and styles. Then, inject your own personality. Make the theft authentic.

Instead of resisting an acting role, tackle it. Resistance signals room for growth. Similarly, your resistance to certain academic topics signals areas for growth. For example, if you would rather perish in hell than take a theology course, then take the AU course Death and Dying in World Religions. Defend what you oppose. Grow!

If acting out the role of a boxer, take boxing lessons. Become a boxer. Similarly, if You’re studying homelessness, fast for a day?and sleep for a week at a homeless shelter. If You’re studying solar energy, then transition your house to solar power. And if You’re studying boxing, then sign-up for a combative to learn the mental art of giving and receiving blows.

So, now you’ve got the boxing gear? If not, don’t fret. Find another topic you could make central in your life: a calling. A paradox? I call it a creative spark!

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