7/27/2023 1 Comment
They say that if you want to make something, you really have to like the idea because you'll be chipping away at it for a long time. I don't know who said this, but it has proven to be extremely true. I've been chipping away at Edessa for 3 years now with what seems to be a toothpick and a teaspoon. I never considered myself a writer before the idea for this musical came to me. I wandered around forever being like, "HI, I HAVE A MUSICAL IDEA. CAN SOMEONE WRITE THIS SO I CAN DIRECT IT." until my good friends Ramon and Fran sat me down (over Zoom, of course. We were in a pandemic, people.) and they were both like, Dal... Just do the thing. And so here we are. How do I turtle-pace this thing to the end?
STEP ONE: Read today, tomorrow, and the next day after that forever.
My creative process for directing and writing has changed, taken shape, and been destroyed and rebuilt over the years. Until recently, I wouldn't even be able to tell you what it was. My bookshelf is filled with endless manuals and manifestos around self-help and creativity. I've read them all. And I found that, no matter the book, I felt inspired after reading, and my creative mind was often activated. I read until I was vibrating with an idea. I read until I thought, "I HAVE TO STOP READING RIGHT NOW AND GET THIS ON PAPER." And so that's how it worked. On and off, on and off, this has happened over the years, with no sort of regularity or consistency. It's such a great wait to spark momentum. Some books stick with me more than others, and I've read some multiple times. Some have been sitting on my bedside table for months with no hope of being opened, earning another coffee cup circle each morning, the sphere of bitter bean water destroying the cover of something that may have held the world's mysteries on its pages. What a waste. Anyway...
Recently, I've learned to embrace the procrastination that is reading 5 pages of a book about creativity as a part of how I click in. I secretly think that the people that wrote them were procrastinators themselves, using their energy to explain what they needed to do instead of doing it. Funny how that works, right? By jumping into other creators' wavelengths, I can dive into my own. And I don't finish books I don't like. Like, who cares? Who is forcing me to do that? Which leads me to the next step.
STEP TWO: Give in to being an unruly child.
The Goddess Julia Cameron talks a lot about how your inner artist is also your inner child. You need a childlike curiosity, play, and abandon to be able to let yourself actually make. That all sounds fine and wonderful, but we also know that children are a pain in the ass.
They don't listen, make a mess, follow whatever whim their brain sprinkles in, and have a great time doing it. Children can also exhibit tremendous focus on the seemingly silliest things. I found I needed to hold both of these to write. I needed dream time. I am not the kind of person that can work like a machine. I admire and respect people that can complete task after task after task, but that ain't me. I need playtime. I pray every day that the playtime is actually focused on the thing I'm trying to complete. I've gotten better at focusing on playtime, but it was a journey. At a certain point, I got tired of hearing myself talk about making stuff and then just sat down and started creating. That lasted precisely one (1) 20-minute work session. And then I discovered I needed to find things that kept the artist-child inside of me happy. A whiteboard, crayons, markers, colored paper, doodles, whatever it took. How do I get this kid to stay seated and improve the chance that more sentences will be typed into a shared Google doc???????????
Having creative playthings around has tremendously helped me. I found I was very easy to trick. And I was happy to be tricked! I was having a great time being tricked. The key here is to find what works for you. What did you like to do as a child? Do that right now next to a blinking cursor and blank page.
STEP 3: Google
Okay, so I'm in the right headspace, and I've written, doodled, and written some more. I'm stuck. What the hell do I write now? It's time to start googling. What do you have questions about? Get lost in a rabbit hole. Follow exactly what interests you (hello, inner child). There are no rules to this. What you naturally follow is what you are interested in. What you're interested in will be what you want to create. Take notes, bookmark everything, and learn how to get more information off your screen. Who was taking pictures of what you're researching? Go find out more about them. Go find a book on their photography. Take photos of the book in your local library even though you're not supposed to.
Love you all, and welcome to my first-ever blog post.
My Favorite Books on Creativity/Writing/Artistry that you've probably already heard of.
The Artist's Way
Steal Like an Artist
Right to Write
The Creative Habit