Every so often I'll be sitting in my house, maybe watching TV or reloading my Instagram feed, and I start to think about how much I'd rather be working on something creative. As life hands you more responsibilities, its a lot easier to find excuses to not do something outside the box. Sometimes they're excuses to not do something you truly love because you know it will require a lot of time and effort. Time and effort I, unfortunately, tell myself I don't have a lot of. As a student and lover of film, I've been lucky enough to have opportunities to make a career out of visual storytelling, as well as time for the occasional passion project. But the desire to create never lets up. I can't help but feel I have so much more to offer. Anyone who gets that creative urge knows what I'm talking about. As long as I feel like I can contribute to this world in some fashion, that urge will always be there.
"Doubt, fear, and laziness lead to nothing but excuses and missed opportunities."
I tend to do a lot of daydreaming and note scribbling, but actually putting pen to paper or pressing record on a camera seems, at times, an insurmountable beast. It's hard to take that first step. It's hard to put away your doubts and fears and just start working. If you doubt your abilities, fear failure, and choose laziness over hard work, it will inevitably cripple you to the point where it's easier to leave your distraction-inducing devices on and say "Only one more episode" or "Just one more news article" or "I'll find time tomorrow." Doubt, fear, and laziness lead to nothing but excuses and missed opportunities. Unfortunately, it happens to me all the time.
Finding motivation to begin working, let alone know what you are working on, can come from the most unexpected places. The trick is to allow yourself to experience one of those motivational moments fully and completely (maybe it's listening to a song, a great passage in a book, a beautiful sunset, or a conversation) and then recognize and store that ambition. If you have the opportunity to capitalize on that ambition right away, untethered, with no time restraints, consider yourself lucky. But creating a clear memory of that moment of motivation (an event, a person, a sentence, a place, an image) that you can come back to is the most helpful way for me to reconnect with my feelings formed by that initial inspiration.
It's natural for our minds to have clearer memories of certain life events over others. If there's something I know I want to remember, I try to make it a priority. And I don't mean taking a picture or video of something. Most times when I take a photo it has a way of substituting my lens' perspective for my actual experience. My memory of something is more valuable than any photo would ever be. So, I take a moment and tell myself that I'm going to remember that moment. I may repeat something a hundred times in my head. Or I focus on each of my senses to flush out a memory. Or I write thoughts and feelings down after an experience. Writing initial thoughts, no matter how unsophisticated, can do wonders in terms of remembering something long term while also forcing me to put thoughts into words. The important thing is to take a memory, and do whatever you have to do to make it a vivid. You want to be able to instantly recall not just facts, but feelings too. Facts are great, but remembering how something made you feel will have a longer memory lifespan.
And then what? I have loads of inspiration and ambition, but I still haven't taken that first step toward actually making anything. But I have added more tools to my tool belt so that when I do put pen to paper, I'm better prepared.
Lots of professionals and teachers talk about the necessity of "just doing it" when talking about the work process. The longer the process is avoided the harder it is to start. I think there's a lot of truth in that mindset. I'm also well aware of the fact that sometimes life throws you curveballs and choosing to work on dreams with unforeseeable fruit, can be like a wall that towers over you and puts you in its shadow. If you only get a few chances, every once in a while, to walk up to that wall and think about how you can get over, it will seem impossible. And it can be demoralizing. The longer you wait to get over that wall, the taller it gets. If you don't have the luxury of being able to work on your dreams full time, the only realistic way to approach that wall is with a truck full of ladders and tools to help you. But sometimes getting that truck full of motivation and ambition takes time, effort, and opportunity. The question is, when you have all the tools you need, will you climb up that ladder and hop over?
I initially wanted to write this blog about a new short film I'm working on, but as you can tell, it's evolved into something about creative rut. I don't know why. Maybe because working on my new short felt like one of those few times I climbed that wall and jumped down to the other side. The film may not be the best thing I've ever done, but no matter how good it ends up being, the fact that I put pen to paper and pressed record on that camera has its own rewards. The risk is always high. I had to fight off the unrealistic pressure I put on myself to make something "great", while also recruiting help from friends and family on a project that was hard to explain and harder to know if anyone would like.
Filmmaking, in particular, is risky. All the moving parts, people, planning, execution, money, time, and problem solving that goes into it can be disastrous. But it can also result in something beautiful. I can't tell you if my project is beautiful or not. I want it to be. I want people to find beauty somewhere in it. That's the hope. But that might not happen. It might not get into any festivals. It might only end up getting ten views on YouTube. And I'm ok with that. I was given the opportunity to make something using my stored up motivation and ambition. I'm thankful for the process. I'm thankful I looked at that wall and found a way to get over it. I know another wall will appear in front of me soon. Hopefully I'll find a way over that wall sooner rather than later.