Hello, today I’m discussing why we commit to some projects and not others.
In 2010 I wrote my first blog post but it never went online. Then, in 2012, I started a blog about filmmaking, as clearly the world needed another one of those. This morphed into a blog all about ‘Green’ media production, however, that didn’t last. In 2015-16 I wrote on a couple of different company blogs as part of a media package I was offering, and during this time I learnt different formats and aspects of blogging, but still struggled with a personal connection.
Yet now, 10 years later, I’ve committed to writing regularly! It’s become part of my weekly routine. I think about it. I look forward to the writing. I actively read other blogs. What changed?, and, am I 10 years too late?
Why do we start projects and not commit to them? I know in life there are so many (seemingly valid) excuses; “there are already people doing that”, I’m too old”, “I’m too young… too busy… too lazy… too naïve… too jaded. Yet other times, a project or activity seems to stick. You are able to make a decision, and for some unknown reason you keep at it, you complete it… so why some and not others?
Most of my projects are creative. Some are small personal creative projects no one sees, and others are larger and in the public eye. In most cases, once I have made a decision and understand why I’m doing it, (and believe in the ‘why’), then my project, through the creative process is completed. However, there are some projects, that never really get off the ground, and I would say this about my personal attempts at blogging. I guess it struck me as an informative medium and not as creative as other projects I was already engaged in, so I thought of blogging as an added extra.
Several people suggested that I should start a blog, that it would be good for my filmmaking, as I could create an audience. However, that intention, didn’t work for me. It seemed like a practical or logical thing to do, a ‘job’ or a ‘chore’, and believe me filmmaking already has enough of those… I did take their advice though, I tried, failed, tried… started again, but nope – it never stuck.
Reflecting on this process now, I realise that I didn’t put blogging in the creative basket, and I didn’t believe in the purpose of ‘creating an audience’, it was too time consuming and I didn’t really understand the medium as an art form. However, 10 years after my first attempts here I am. Quite happily writing away every week, not trying to gain an audience for filmmaking, just enjoying the process of sharing thoughts. And, I totally think this weekly writing is way more beneficial for me than for any reader. Not that I don’t want readers, I do, but my reasons are different. I want to engage in conversations, I want to express the difficulties of being a creative in order to assist others’ difficulties in this area. Sounds naïve – yes it probably is, sounds 10 years too late, yes it probably is, but really – who cares.
There are a couple of things to notice about this reflection. I’m not the only creative to start a project only for it to fall over, or never even get to the starting line. When this happens it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking negatively about yourself. I do. I tell myself I must be lazy, I’m not as creative as other people, I should be driven to succeed… and so on. Well I’m not sure that is always the case. For me, if a project doesn’t gain traction, it usually means it either doesn’t align with my intentions, or it isn’t the right time.
There are certain insecurities that go with the creative process, a constant push and pull. In one regard, I get excited over something I am creating, have that first flush of newness – which motivates me, and then, my insecurities hit, and I wonder if the project meets certain ‘outside’ standards. So if I’m already unsure about the project it’s easy for it to fall over. However, when commitment happens, when my intentions align with the project, even though I go through the creative and insecure ups and downs, my commitment sees me through.
When I was younger, I would say ‘yes’ to working on other peoples’ projects far more than I do now. My ‘yes’ would often turn out to be a chore. However, thinking back, I often learnt about creativity on some level, or maybe I just learnt how to say ‘no’, I’m not sure. Now, I’m much more careful about my commitments and how they align to my intentions. I understand that the process of a particular creative project, which holds meaning to me, is worth the ups and downs, late nights, and facing my many insecurities.
For me, there is not always an instant knowing if this project is right or not. I sometimes know – absolutely. And other times I feel around a bit, make some moves and see what happens. If it doesn’t gel I usually let it go, or put it on hold having faith in the timing of things. This does not mean the projects I commit to are not hard work, they absolutely are, however, my belief in the project overrides any difficulties I face.
I’m at a stage in my practice where I understand and accept strength in failure and experimentation, so I’m usually happy to start something and realise it is not for me.
What I’m discussing is not the same as not starting something you’ve always dreamed of doing and being so afraid you can’t make any forward movements. If you’re at that place I found this article Waiting, by Luann Udell, which you may find comforting yet motivating. That place of being absolutely stagnant in your creativity, especially if it has been like this for a length of time, is difficult. When I’m here, I often do smaller creative projects or experiments that no one else will see, just to build up my creative muscle again. I found this blog which has many short photographic tasks that you could easily use – for creativities sake, and there are many more like this in different mediums.
This post, I guess, is more for those of us who aren’t afraid to start but then can’t kept at it. If I was here (and I have been and will be again), it’s a time to reflect on the ‘why’. Why are you creating this object, painting, game, album? Does it align with your intentions, do you need more knowledge, materials, collaborators to make it happen. What is your ultimate outcome?
There are times to just make stuff and enjoy the process, but there are also times to reflect on why you are doing whatever it is you’re doing.
I will leave you with this quote from Rod Judkins in the book, The Art of Creative Thinking:
Many creative people find that to be an authentic version of themselves they have to think with their senses. Our minds play tricks on us but our feelings are trustworthy. We have been taught to choose the respectable, socially acceptable and well-trodden path that everyone else walks down. Instead, choose the path that feels right to you.
So if it’s 10 years too late to some sort of normal standard, but you feel it’s right for you – then do it, just get the shit done.