The dream of every artist is to create a masterpiece on a whim. To pick up a brush or laptop without preparation, out of a spur of the moment, without effort. I wish the next Harry Potter got just flow out of me on a train journey like it did for J K Rowling. Instead, even when locked inside, I spend hours playing puzzle games on my phone and not planning out scripts.
Is there a middle ground between the flimsy of magical creativity and commercial reality?
With the passion of Charlie Kaufman, I detest writing workshops. Whats the point of wanting to bring new ideas into the world if we’re going to follow decade old templates? On the other hand, I spend way too much time re-writing and re-editing.
I stole the title for this post from my filmmaking teacher. She said it on the first day, and I remember smirking to myself, thinking: that only applies to talentless folk. I’m so full of myself because I gave up a lot for this career in the end. However, talent only gets you into school, but discipline seems to get jobs.
The thing with ‘artists’ is that we take everything far too personally.
Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat Pray Love explains that every creative needs a healthy amount of courage. When I try to catch the window of opportunity when inspiration strikes, panic sets in: What if this idea is crap, and I’m wasting my time dedicating the next 6 months to it? What if I made the biggest mistake of my life when I gave up working in business? According to Gilbert (and people who make a living), creativity should be a vocation, not a career. Aka a hobby until it delivers.
I cling to my ideas, jealous and possessive, nervous to even write them out for myself. Instead of enjoying the beauty of what I just came up with, I already dream of my pilot premiere. Songwriter Tom Waits tells how his children learned to make up songs and forget them instantly, living for the beauty of them in the moment. That just seems alien to me. For some reason, I believe my creativity belongs to me, not the here and now that inspired it. Maybe thats where I went wrong.
The trick seems to be to keep creating, and if we fail, to fail fast. Mark Manson said that “every single pursuit – no matter how wonderful and exciting and glamorous it may initially seem – comes with its own brand of shit sandwich.” The more I create, the more shit sandwiches I’m going to get. On the other hand, the more chances I will have of stumbling upon this one special sandwich that I’d been looking for the whole time.
Maybe I should apply for a job at Subway once this is all over.