Homeostasis as a Metaphor for the Creative Process…
An artist’s journey is a constant balancing act where s/he must overcome daily hurdles. The term homeostasis, which we learned in science class but probably have forgotten, is actually the perfect metaphor for this ongoing process as a creator. I (Phil Svitek) will explore what I mean by this and more importantly how it can benefit you in your work. I’ll also reference Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art which shares similar notions. Once you begin to understand this concept you can begin to master mental fortitude and unlock your passions that allow you to meet your muse everyday! That’s pretty powerful if you stop to think about it. So check it out! I also encourage you to write any comments or questions you may have so I can respond. PS: The definition of homeostasis is: any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if unsuccessful, disaster or death ensues. The stability attained is actually a dynamic equilibrium, in which continuous change occurs yet relatively uniform conditions prevail. Can you guess how this ties back to an artist’s life before tuning into the episode? Even if you do, I promise there’s many take-aways you’ll gain.
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In the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about this show. Not that I didn’t already but I started thinking about it in different ways. I asked myself questions like who am I trying to reach with these lessons. Sure, there’s takeaways for everyone but as it stood I was casting the net out too large rather than being specific and really delivering the best information to that specific targeted audience. Part of me even felt inauthentic because I highlighted lessons I learned but I haven’t shared how they’ve helped me. Not fully. All the lessons I’ve taught so far helped me to be a better content creator.
How can that be? They’re not lessons geared towards creatives. They are more about ideology and perspectives.
Well, turns out I needed to adjust my perspective. See, as creative people, we need to master the proper skills to realize our creative passions and dreams, whether that be through acting, writing, painting, podcasting, hosting, editing and so on. But what we also need to develop apart from the right techniques is a mental fortitude. You see, I believe only through mastering mental fortitude can we achieve our creative endeavors. As humans we all face moments of fear, doubt and disbelief.
But especially as artists our purpose is to explore the human condition and express some meaningful truth about it to audiences. And so if we don’t have the right will and resolve, it’ll be extremely hard to accomplish this in our art.
You see, I started this entire series on the premise that these teachings have helped me and so I hoped they might help someone else in turn. It turns out the cliche you only truly understand a lesson if can teach it is true because by having to sit down and draft these lessons I strengthened myself and realized what I wanted to do with this series. It was always right there in front of me. I just didn’t see it even though I’d been doing it for years at AfterBuzz TV and even before that. I love helping young artists go after their aspirations. I love the joy it brings them when they succeed. And I’ve been blessed to witness this firsthand hundreds of times at the highest of levels. And so that has now become my mission with this series. To fortify your spirit as you venture off on your creative journey, whatever that may be. And that journey begins today with me letting you know that this journey you embark on is a constant balancing act.
What do I mean by this? Remember the term homeostasis from science class? Homeostasis is any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if unsuccessful, disaster or death ensues. The stability attained is actually a dynamic equilibrium, in which continuous change occurs yet relatively uniform conditions prevail.
Okay, that’s the definition. Now really think about what that means because by that description homeostasis is a perfect metaphor for the creative process you must undertake.
One, it’s self-regulating. In the creative process, you are in control. You must be the one to do the work day after day to make sure there is progression. For example, I could come up with every excuse known to man on why my novel, one that I’ve been working on for a year, isn’t finished yet. I could blame everyone and everything around me. But the truth is it’s not finished because I haven’t finished it. In order to move forward with it, it is I who must put in the time and edge it closer to that proverbial finish line. The same applies to you.
Secondly, homeostasis says you must maintain stability. You must be in control of your art, not the other way around. Steven Pressfield, author of books such as The War of Art and Do The Work believes that a muse will only ever appear in your life if it sees you putting in constant effort towards your craft. This is what the act of maintaining stability means to me. Consistently forcing yourself, and yes at times it can quite literally be forcing yourself, to do the work. To put in the time lest it go away because you couldn’t maintain it. A skill gets rusty or disappears altogether if it’s not practiced. As a reminder, practice doesn’t make perfect it makes permanent. So if you adopt lazy habits, they will become a part of you permanently. For more information on this, watch or rewatch my episode called Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect. But the other half of maintaining stability is aimed at mental stability. Any dream in life will be challenging. There will be hurdles to overcome that will test the limits of your mental toughness. Each passing day you must deliberately seek to maintain mental stability because it’s one thing to lose a skill. A skill can be relearned. But to lose mental stability can have life or death importance as we’re seeing with the increased number of suicides throughout our country and especially in creative fields through people such as Robin Williams or Anthony Bourdain.
Don’t think for a second that I’m being too dramatic. Homeostasis seeks to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if unsuccessful, disaster or death ensues. Let’s just swap out the word homeostasis with the word artist, which I’ll use to encompass anyone with a creative vision that they want to fulfill. So now it would read artists seek to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. If artists are successful, life continues, if unsuccessful, disaster or death ensues. Reads truthful to me and that is the struggle of the artist – the constant balancing act. In real terms this balancing act is fought daily in activities such as financial stability, health, being able to go from really fun and creativity fulfilling high moments to super slow, mundane and quiet moments or the ever-present voice inside your head that says you’re not good enough so why bother. These are your daily battles. And the bad news is, there’s lots of others I didn’t mention but you’re probably already all too familiar with them so no need for me to recite you the horrors of your life. If it helps, understand each of these is also my daily battle and not just yours. They have a universality to themselves. But daily battles they are and fight you must. That’s what makes them crippling at times. People can help you but you are the one that must face these demons head on. Daily.
You see, that has been my Achilles heel for as recently as just last week. I thought that if I overcame certain obstacles that I was done with that obstacle. That I’d never have to face that hurdle again. To me, it was as if I was playing a video game and reached a certain level or status and thanks to the programming it wasn’t possible to go backwards. I laugh at myself now in thinking that. Life is not a video game with save points or levels. Everyday brings the same if not greater struggle. Every day you have to vanquish the same demons and then some in order to be at the same place you were yesterday. And if you want to get further ahead, it’s going to take even more effort because the closer you get to your goal, or success if you want to view it that way, the more resistance you will face. Resistance becomes stronger the closer you get to the end.
Sound grim? It doesn’t have to be. Your body naturally keeps itself in homeostasis. It doesn’t think. It just does. Your mind is the one that thinks. And so if you look at it from that perspective, you too can plug away at your passions and not sweat it. Just do. Where your thinking should be applied towards is the creative aspects, not to the worries or self-doubts. Leave those behind.
Just like your body is able to maintain itself without much hassle, so can your creative spirit. The only thing that’s required is work. Your body never stops working, and you shouldn’t either when pursuing your dreams. If you’ve seen other lessons then you’ll remember no hurry, no pause. If you’re new to the series then I suggest you check out that lesson. But in a nutshell, it’s about a persistent speed forward. Maintain stability. Don’t go too fast. But don’t slow down either. When you start to look at homeostasis as a metaphor for the creative process you’ll begin to realize the importance of mental fortitude in achieving your creative endeavors. And that is what I want for you. That is what I’ve helped hundreds of aspiring hosts do within AfterBuzz TV. Many of them, like you, had a certain talent. But that talent can’t be showcased if you’re stuck mentally in fear. Breaking these fears down is what will allow you to step into the creative space and call yourself an artist, which as I’ve said before is a term I use to encompass those of us with a vision to create. It’s what I look forward to teaching you in future lessons. The journey’s just beginning so get ready. Lots of exciting stuff is on it’s way. To further drive home this lesson of homeostasis as a metaphor for the creative process, here’s a few quotes you’ll enjoy.
“The creative process is not controlled by a switch you can simply turn on or off; it’s with you all the time.” – Alvin Ailey
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” – Brian Tracy
“The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.” – Antonio Brown
“If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself,. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet. You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God. Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” – Steven Pressfield
Before you click away to another lesson from Phil, here’s a few more things. For your benefit, the transcript of this episode is on Phil’s website. A link is provided so you can always review it. If you enjoyed this lesson, please be sure to hit that like button and tell your friends and family about us. Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions and what lessons you’d like to see Phil tackle next. The more specific you are with your questions, the better he can answer it. Also, you can support this show on patreon.com/philsvitek if it doesn’t burden you financially in any way. Every contribution is truly appreciated and helps defray the costs of putting on this show – which as you can imagine takes a lot of effort. To be notified when future episodes release, subscribe on either Apple Podcast or YouTube or Google Podcast, Spotify and a host of other amazing platforms. All you have to do is click the link to the specific platform that’s most convenient to you. Lastly, if you’re interested in joining AfterBuzz TV as a host or as an intern, visit AfterBuzz TV’s contact page. A direct link is provided. Or of course you can Tweet @PhilSvitek or Instagram me @BonjourJuliet. Thanks for watching. I’m Juliet Vibert, a producer on the show and we’ll see you next week with another one of Phil’s life lessons. In the meantime, get to work on your creative project. Happy trails.