A lot has been written about creativity and writers block and inner criticism. And it can be helpful but also, in many ways, It's a lot of nonsense. I've written blog posts in the past on these topics and luckily people have found them helpful, but my regret is that I wrote them in an authoritative tone, like I'm a psychologist or something. My writing has changed a lot in these years, as time has passed, and I've been careful about how I give 'advice' because I think anyone who isn't Carl Jung needs to be careful about giving psychology tips, and anyone who isn't Steven Spielberg should realise they don't know everything about film.
I used to harp on about how we need to beat our inner critics, be positive and all that stuff. But I'll leave all that to the self-help industry and instead I'll speak more personally.
There is part of me that likes to dream, part of me that is determined and strict, and part of me that does the writing. Then there is another part of me that oversees all of this.
I'd imagine you have something similar.
If you want to be a writer, dreaming and having ideas, by itself, is meaningless. That's why you meet so many people who want to share their film ideas with you. They're just daydreamers. They don't have the discipline to write, or to learn how to write, or to suffer through ten years of abysmal writing.
The part of me that is determined and focused is hugely responsible for my often ferocious productivity, which I think you can see hints of in this blog. It's absolutely ruthless; demanding originality, variety and a high level of quality every time. In recent posts you'll see interviews, comedic stories, advice, dreamy stuff, reviews. Part of that is the disappointment I feel when I write something and don't nail it, or when I get little feedback. That part of me, in me, is always determined to do better.
But here's the problem: you can't daydream when your brain is shouting at you to be productive. You can't relax, can't pay attention to those around you and can't even eat properly. My writing is at It's best when I've been able to daydream about meeting a beautiful woman; or had my imagination rip into the notion of setting fire to the local police station while yelling in Norwegian.
But it's incompatible with the side of me that is in a rush to achieve, to work. That side will find any excuse: there's a deadline! You've never written anything good so hurry up and do so! We all die soon! You need to earn money! Etc.
So a huge part of writing is, I think, shutting out or calming the inner crazy disciplinarian.
But without having him there, a day of daydreaming turns into four years of never completing anything.
They need each other.
Writing is, I think, about balancing the two. It's diferent for each of us, it's an individual process.
Writing begins when the daydreamer and the hard-worker allow each other to work. Then there's the part of me that catches it. That says "ah this will be a screenplay about dolphins" or "this is worthy of being a blog post about internal criticism."
For me to be able to write about these sides of my personality, means there was someone there witnessing everything. I've always been good at that-- being able to see the various sides of me smashing into each other. The one who witnesses the creative splurts and the horrible depressions and the months of irritability, has been able to teach me that these phases pass, that they're part of my creative process, and that they're all nonsense. It makes the pain of the blank page slightly easier to bare.
Writing is pleasurable for some. If you're one of them you're lucky. For me, the process is hugely difficult, lonely and demanding.
But that's writing: allowing freedom and dreaming to exist alongside productive urges.
But I count myself lucky. Too many people have no discipline, no drive, no focus. And even worse, some people have no imagination.
One last note: I realize many writers will have no idea what I'm talking about. A lot of writers don't house all these elements internally. Many have mentors, producers, etc, to provide the discipline. Likewise, many people have no ability to daydream, especially if they live in LA (joke). If you can get a colleague or manager or phone app to play one of these parts for you, I recommend it. For those of you like me, who demand doing the whole process yourself, I recommend a good night's sleep and a heavy dose of dreaming.