In relation to acting, a wise professor of mine once said: "specifics set you free"
I have a very hard time adhering to this. The thing is, creatively speaking, I totally agree with it*.
We'll return to that asterisk later, m8.
Particularly in acting and writing (ie, the two disciplines I have the most experience with), specifics are your lifeline. Everyone has seen a general, non-specific acting performance before, and you know what? It was fucking boring. Writing too: a writer who dabbles too much in generalities tends to write vaguely and confusingly and stock character. ly.
Specifics immediately inject stakes and urgency into a story. They are SO IMPORTANT. Instead of a bad guy being Generic Brute #48, have him be a tortured soul from Newark who bounced around the foster system for his childhood, fell in with a bad crowd, but then tried to get out by taking classes at the local community college until...
I could go on, but you see what I mean; much more interesting already, and I just pulled that shit out of my bum.
And yet, I have trouble getting specific. Why? Because I've got it in my head that plucking a specific out of thin air means that I may pick the wrong one. The specific motivation I chose or the specific character tick or plot point - there's a chance it'll all be wrong and I'll fuck it up and OH GOD I'VE RUINED EVERYTHING.
But it won't be boring, even if I'm wrong. Specifics are rarely boring.
Boredom - anything that evokes it can/should not be considered successful. It is one of the Seven Deadly Artistic Sins.
And yes, my specific choice could be the wrong one. So... why don't I just go for it anyway? I can change it later in rehearsal or revision - specifics aren't written in Moses tablets.
I want to get over this psychological block. It's frustrating. I'm hoping one day to become a specifics machine.
Until then, I'll have to be constantly reminding myself to stop meddling around in "kind of". Even going with the first thing that comes in my head is better than a vague wash of bleeeegh. This is how learning works.
Oh, yeah, that asterisk:
* I find vagueness works well in theatre sometimes. It's one of the few mediums where you can get away with an abstract space as a setting and it will work.