One topic that is constantly discussed among fellow creatives is how, when and where does one write? Most of us have commitments that pull our time and energy into different areas and directions. Family. Work. Church. When does one find time to create amidst the various joys and pressures of life? Do you write late into the night? Do you paint or blog before the sun is up? Do you have a writer’s cabin or studio space? And when is the best time for personal creativity?
I once had the privilege of hearing Francis Coppola talk about his process for screenwriting. It went something like this:
- Fly to Argentina. Rent a hotel room for a month.
- Write every morning from roughly 6:00 am to 12:00 pm while listening to favorite composer(s).
- Type a page. Turn the page over and don’t look at it again until the draft is complete. Even if a character’s name or gender changes, do not go back until the next draft.
- Polish each subsequent draft using the same methodology.
- Fly home. Make movie.
Obviously, this won’t work for everyone, and Mr. Coppola pointed that out. However, he said, if you’re a filmmaker, writer, artist, whatever you are, you do. If you love filmmaking and are truly a filmmaker, you will make films. Burger-flipping by day, barista-ing by night, teaching part-time, the nine-to-five daily grind is all worth it to pursue one’s art. Poet Dana Gioia was an executive at General Foods for many years before pursuing writing full-time.
Find what works for you. Some listen to their favorite movie soundtracks or composers while writing. Some use a typewriter. One man writes in a coffee shop, another in his office. I find writing on the computer can be distracting, some notification or social network update always pops up. This blog post is presently being recorded in a journal by hand. Find what works best for your situation.
Write constantly. Schedule a time, daily or weekly and make writing a priority. You’ll improve and find your style regardless if your writing ever sees the light of day. Since my first film, I’ve written approximately twenty screenplays. Most will never make their way off the harddrive. Some will. All of them helped me improve as a writer.
Be consistently inconsistent. All the time, whenever you can, wherever you are, create. Not everyone can set a consistent, scheduled time to write. If that’s you, write at every opportunity that presents itself. Jot down that idea for a song lyric. Outline your next narrative. Makers make. Do what you are.
Find a community, a support group of creatives. This, I think, is one of the hardest things for a creator, a leader, a producer to find. By calling and inclination, a leader is at the forefront and the forefront can be a lonely place. Moses judged the Israelites outside their camp at the tent of meeting. When this became too much for him to bear (to the point of physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion), Moses’ father-in-law urged him to find likeminded leaders and, with their help, to bear the load together. The drive to improve or create new products, paintings and the like, oftentimes places a creative in unknown and uncharted territory. Finding like-minded individuals can encourage, motivate, and help you hone your craft.
These are just a few thoughts and experiences from my perspective, but I’d love to hear from you. How, when, and where do you create?