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Light of Day Theory


“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.” 
- Julia Cameron


I was recently chatting with a colleague when he referenced what he calls the “Light of Day Theory”. He described a night in high school when he fell asleep as he was writing out a script for a play. He awoke several hours later to what seemed like really funny material. In the morning, he raced to write out his thoughts exactly as he recalled them. But as he did so, he realized the words, phrases and ideas had all lost their humour.

Why is that? In the light of day he was trying to control the ideas (and the outcome), and therefore it could no longer be funny. So instead, he decided to throw caution to the wind and not write out a script at all, just the general direction the play would take as inspired by his dreams.  Though it was risky, he got the actors to buy in and it ended up being a smash hit.

So what’s the moral of the story, you ask? There's a lot to be said for taking inspiration from different places and going with the flow. Now of course the play could have turned out to be a total flop, but I think that we can all agree that trying to control anything rarely results in a positive outcome.

So next time your inclination is to painstakingly plot something out that could benefit from improvisation, just let it go. And when things turn out for the best you can thank the Light of Day Theory for keeping you on track.

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