Good Ideas Don’t Come From Nothing

A common piece of advice among creative types is that if you want to be more creative and have more ideas come to fruition, then you need to turn off the TV, internet, music, phone, etc. They say you must take a break from all the digital stimuli and spend more time with yourself, your thoughts, and your ideas.

While I believe that there is a nugget of truth to this theory, I think we also need to analyze inspiration. What is inspiration, and where does it comes from.

Good ideas do not just materialize from nothing. They slowly build from existing influences in our brains. Our brains are like sponges; they absorb any little idea that may help produce bigger ideas later on. It’s like a factory of thought; sorting through, and separating the bad ideas from the good.

The details we obtain in order to work creatively and produce creatively stem from watching TV, browsing the internet, reading, listening to music, etc. It’s only once we’ve taken in enough influence and let it ponder when we can use it as a tool to experiment and put our personal touch onto it.

So, pay attention to the TV, the music, your book, and the internet. Utilize them with a smart method to help yourself and your creative endeavors.

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What I’ve learned throughout the process of making KISMET

As I announced in a previous post, I’m working on a Short Film with my friend and creative partner, Jake Alberts. It is entitled “Kismet”, and it’s about nostalgia and the sentiments that go along with it. I wrote it, Jake and I are co-directing it, co-starring in it, and Jake is editing it. You can read that previous post HERE.
I began writing Kismet back in late November of 2013. The subject matter came so naturally to me and I had a flood of ideas coming together. I didn’t rush the writing process, and I came to a satisfying ending in late December of about 15 pages. 15 pages that I assumed would come out to be roughly 15 minutes.

Me, being a writer and a visual thinker, have only the writing and co-directing credits on Kismet. But Jake is a fantastic editor, as well as a visual thinker. He also has a camera and knows how to use it (something that I’m oblivious about).

Shooting began in early January and I very quickly learned A  LOT. My style of writing is very dialogue heavy, and it can get a bit redundant at times, and the first thing I learned while shooting is that under the format of a short film it’s very important to convey moments visually, rather than verbally. My script then began shrinking. By the end of that first day Jake and I had taken out entire chunks of dialogue, simplified and compressed chunks of dialogue, and conveyed many ideas in the film visually rather than through the dialogue I’d written. I wasn’t frustrated either. I understand that a writer cannot be precious with their work. Especially in film, because It’s such a collaborative process.

So, although Kismet wasn’t coming out the way I originally envisioned it to when I was writing it, I didn’t care. The way it was coming out was the way it had to be. And being my first day ever shooting a script that I wrote; I was happier than ever. I got that first taste of what it’s like. It’s like a drug, seeing your words come to life. Just another reminder that this is exactly what I’m meant to be doing.

This being our very first project, It’s only Jake and I. And we’re the only two actors in Kismet. Meaning that when we’re both in a shot, it has to be a still shot, because there’s nobody there to operate the camera. This is a setback, but it’s just the way it is. We work around it and it’s actually creatively satisfying to do so, but with our future projects we hope to have other actors so Jake can operate the camera.

Now, fast forward to now. It’s early February. Jake and I have been working our butts off shooting Kismet. My script has condensed even more. What I originally thought was going to be a 15 minute short film, is now a 5 minute short film. We only have a few last touches of filming and V.O. to do then were finished. And since Jake has been editing late nights after filming, were almost completely finished.

This process has been the most creatively fulfilling experience of my life and I can’t wait to continue it in the future with more projects. Kismet will be online soon. We don’t know when exactly, but it will be a few weeks, maybe a month. I’m very excited for people to see it. I hope people relate to it, or at least enjoy it.

The Gap

I recently came across one of the most inspiring quotes I’d ever read. After reading it I quickly found out that it was from the one and only Ira Glass. Famous, of course, for the This American Life public radio show and Podcast. I’d never felt so personally connected to a quote in my life. The quote explains this peculiar thing Ira calls “The Gap”.The quote goes as such:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
- Ira Glass

“The Gap” is a phenomenon that I’ve been experiencing (and still am) but haven’t exactly been able to articulate. Ira does it flawlessly here. Creative types everywhere struggle with this daily. The solution is to power through it. Do your poor work to fruition, because there’s no other choice. The only way you’re going to grow and get better is to keep working. Keep your good taste in mind, but don’t let it haunt you. Let it inspire you and take form as a goal to reach, not a stress inducer.

Work through “The Gap”, and stay optimistic. Live to tell the tale of your years spent in “The Gap”, because they will be years you look back on fondly. You may be four years into your creative work, but you’re still a beginner. You’re still climbing your way out of “The Gap”. These things take awhile. You’ll know the day that your work is as quality as your taste, and you’ll look back and feel good about all the hard work you’ve done.

KISMET

So, my creative partner, Jake Alberts, and I have been working our butts off shooting a short film entitled ‘Kismet’. It’s a modest and simple short about nostalgia and the sentiments that go along with it. I wrote ‘Kismet’, Jake and I co-directed it, and Jake edited it. We are also the only two actors in the film; playing the two characters that the film focuses on. As a creative team, this is the first project that Jake and I have produced to fruition. We hope to follow up with many more in the future.

Below is a still from the film, so people can maybe get a feel for what to expect visually. It is entirely in black & white.

We don’t have an “official release date” yet, but I think “soonish” works just fine.

Thanks!

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The Curse of Creative Curiosity (What To Do When You Have Too Many Ideas)

Having a multitude of idea’s can be a gift and a curse. As creative people, we get to think beyond the initial idea. We get to build upon that idea until it evolves into a finished creative product.

These ideas can stack up, taking up space in your head and/or a file on your desktop. So after awhile of all these ideas stacking up, the exhausting effect of having too many things to work on leads to a mental paralysis. And according to research experts, it’s an actual form of paralysis called Decision Paralysis.

Decision ParalysisA condition of not being able to decide on a matter when there is no clear cut best option. It leads to an ever longer period of gather more information in the hope that more information will guide the decision maker to an option that is clearly better.

So, as you can see, Decision Paralysis is a cognitive death trap. It stems from the abundance of ideas, and curiosity. You’re faced with too many decisions with only yourself to blame. You’re feeling helpless. What if you make the wrong decision?

Being a destructively curious creative type myself, I always have more than one project going on at once and this quite often leads to days of working on absolutely none of it. If this behavior becomes consistent it can eventually lead to your list of “things to work on” to fall apart. Jut a glance at that list can send a rush of anxiety through your mind and body.

So, what can you do?

Well, the answer is pretty simple. It is this: Make the decision of what exactly to work on and commit to it 100%.

This is obviously easier said than done, but there are techniques to achieve this. It comes down to prioritizing. You must prioritize your ideas into tasks to help influence your decision making. Have confidence in your decision and follow through. Which task is most important to you? If you can decide on this, then it’s good to get that one out of the way first. Which task needs to be completed the soonest? This one’s a bit obvious. If you have a close deadline on something, then execute that first to make room for your personal creative endeavors. Which task will be the most difficult? I follow this rule with the most dedication. If you buckle up and work on the most difficult task first, then that will exercise and relax your brain for the other task. Leaving you less anxious, and in a creative groove.

The core of all of this is commitment. You must commit yourself 100% to one task, rather than going from one to the other, to the other, leaving them unfinished. I promise this will truncate any anxieties you’re feeling.

You can also read this article, other articles, and check out other creative products over at the Indelible Niche Collective site.

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