Saturday 25 June 2011

Finding Yourself As An Artist and Surpassing Blocks and Disturbances

Your agent is sitting on his ass. Your producer is strangling your creativity. Your co-writer is making negative remarks about your dialogue. 

Regardless of your success levels, everyone has these problems. The problem is that these issues come home with you, they eat away at your energy, they affect your life and creativity in a big way. Too often we forget about the dreaming behind our creativity and focus too much on the disturbances. 

Your dreams and aspirations are the guiding principle behind why you are an artist. It's important to get in touch with them as often as you can, because they really help keep you on the right path. 

We all have peak experiences -- when we are firing on all cylinders, and nothing can stop us. We feel happier, lighter, and our artistic selves are prospering. And there are other times when we're refusing to get out of bed, we tell everyone we're thinking of quitting, and we convince ourselves that we're talentless and that our work is embarrassing. 

Focus on your peak experiences. Can you remember a time when you felt fully alive and full of possibilities? FOCUS on that experience. Fully bring it alive in your memory. Stop reading for a second, and truly visualise it. 

Where were you? Who was there? How did you talk to people? Did it feel like there was a presence or a force supporting you? (Call it God, call it a good caffeine rush, whatever it was, for you). If you are able to strongly visualise this pleasing memory, it will make you feel good, you'll get some of those feelings back.

I have had many of these experiences. Many of them are from when I was a teenager and began making films. I was full of possibilities, extremely experimental, and everything made sense every time I wrote on a page, or pointed a camera at actors. 

Another time was in New York a few years ago. I felt super-powered. Like New York is my spiritual home and the world wanted me to be there. I would walk out of the apartment I was staying in and within five minutes I'd make a new friend, a new creative soulmate, it seemed to happen nearly every day. It was a magic time; the world seemed to work for me in every way. 
When was your peak experience? How did it make you feel? 

When you feel that you are fully in that experience, that you are not only remembering it but you are feeling some of its essence in you now --- how can you use that feeling in your work right now, today? Does that energy help you overcome some of the blocks and resistance you have been feeling? 

Let me know how it goes. 

What we have a tendency to do, is focus our energies on the roadblocks, whether they are external problems (i.e. investors, landlords, YouTube comments) or internal (lack of confidence, second-guessing, depression). This exercise is to help you get back some positive energy, by focusing on the dreaming processes that shape who you are as an artist, and what your goals and intentions are).

As a way of ending the exercise; it is good to write down a few words about yourself and your work, and the dreaming behind it. For example, I could write, "I have always strongly related to the work of writer/directors like Chaplin, Wilder, and Woody Allen, whose work as artists created meaning for themselves and the world around them. I believe that art lives forever and that my dream is to create work that will last, that will cheer people up and brighten their days for a long time to come."

Don't allow yourself to be critical or embarrassed about what you write, because it's a part of you and it's important to bring it out in you. An actress friend of mine yesterday was telling me about how she wants to work with disabled people to help give them a voice by using drama, another friend of mine was telling me a few days back about how books helped him understand the world when he was a kid, in a way that nothing else ever had -- and he wants to be an author so that he can bring that same feeling to future generations. 

Our dreams are important. When we fully access them, own them, and believe in them, we are able to step forward with more purpose and confidence. 

Care to share?


  1. You are absolutely right. Remembering that feeling (especially first thing in the morning) did really make me feel motivated to write today. And without writing a word yet, I feel as happy as I do after I've nailed a chapter. Maybe I'm simple, but that really worked for me.

  2. I'm not an artist or a writer but I do enjoy reading these posts.
    Thanks for brightening my days, Kid.

  3. Fantastic post, with really valuable advice that translates across any artistic discipline!