Last month I wrote a short article for webzine My Caesura. Here’s part one on getting over your obstacles and starting your project. What strategies do you use to get the creative muse working? Leave me a note in the comments below. -Charlie
Mike shakes his head in disbelief and says, “She just bought a $2000 camera and doesn’t know how to use it!! He was obviously distraught by this lady’s audacity to be a photographer without the most basic understanding of the craft. I often hear the same thing about guitar players, “he has ten grand in gear and can’t play worth a damn” or “He’s all hat and no cattle”. I asked Mike why this bothered him so much. I wanted to know why he wasn’t happy for her that she was about to begin doing something that he loved to do. He should be happy for her and I wanted to understand this because I didn’t get it. His camera was just as nice and he had several other cameras so it wasn’t a case of gear envy. He was mad because she was pursuing her dream of being a photographer and here he is just selling cameras.
I could tell he was getting twisted up the more I asked him about it but I kept on because I don’t always follow my better judgment. He told me that it’s his dream to write and direct movies. Then by reflex he began unpacking a treasure chest of obstacles that keeps this dream from happening; lack of funding, lack of time, not knowing people in the industry, and so on. As a business owner and an aspiring songwriter, I could easily see the problems any of these things could present. No money to make a tape. I can’t commit a month to writing a bunch of songs with zero income. I don’t know anyone in Nashville or L.A. who works for a big record label (do record labels even exist anymore?). I realize that Mike and I are in the space at this moment. We are worrying about problems that don’t even exist and letting these concerns block the path to the real goal, which is creating something meaningful.
Since I’m much better at giving advice than taking advice, I told Mike to start making his movie. No time, no problem; start writing even if it’s one line per day but write every single day. No funding, no problem; enlist your friends to act in your movie and film it with an iPhone. No contacts, no problem; if your film is good, someone will find it or at least, you’ll have something to show when you do make a contact.
Some fantastic art has been made in spite of serious constraints. Creativity thrives in adversity. If Springsteen can make the Nebraska album on a 4-track cassette recorder, I certainly can’t make any excuses. Set up a simple routine to work on your creation. Example; write one line per day, everyday before breakfast for 1 week. The snowball will start to roll and before the week is up, you’ll start to find your voice. Maybe next week, it’s a paragraph, or a whole page. That’s up to you but stop working on it.
The key is to start working on your dream even if it’s just a few minutes per day. Don’t let a couple of speed bumps become a roadblock to your success. You’ll be surprised at the positive energy you get from even the smallest progress to writing that song, filming a movie, learning to cook, or even losing a few pounds. It’s a long way to the top if you’re gonna rock and roll and yes, I’m sure Hank done it this way.