Category Archives: Process
What do you do when you don’t know what comes next? When you can’t see the way ahead?
When you are between where you are now and where you want to be?
David Bayles wrote in Art & Fear that “Fear comes in when vision outruns execution.” When you can’t see the way clearly. Fear that you won’t get to where you want to be. Fear that you don’t know how. Fear that you aren’t enough, that you don’t have what it takes.
When you have a great dream, a deep desire, a wish that resonates across your spirit – when you know how you want your life or art to be, but you are completely blind as to how to get from here to there – what do you do?
You trust. You breathe. You remember that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
You open up to being vulnerable, to accepting that you are in a place right now where you can’t see.
I call it being blind. And I learned early on that blindness is a part of the natural rhythms of life. When you can’t see ahead, you have to trust. You have to surrender to not knowing.
That’s not easy to do, but it’s necessary. We think that we must be in control, that action is always the answer, that it’s wrong to “not know.”
It’s not wrong. It’s necessary.
Because to get to where you want to be, you have to trust that the path does lie ahead of you; you have to put one foot in front of the other and keep walking. Sometimes, you have to stop and rest.
And sometimes (maybe often actually) the Universe needs you to wait patiently, unseeing, while it arranges the circumstances and timing that will take you forward.
Patience and faith. Faith that you are okay when you are blind. That vision will return. That you will see the path clearly again.
You will know what comes next.
Be there. Go there now and never leave. Imagine that your dreams have already come true. Live your life from that mindset. Predicate your behavior on that reality, not the illusions that now surround you. Filter every thought, question, and answer from there. Let your focus shift and be born again – because dwelling from, not upon, the space you want to inherit is the fastest way to change absolutely everything.
– Mike Dooley http://www.tut.com
How would your life be different if the biggest dream you have right now, already came true?
Put yourself out into the future. Be there. Feel it. Feels good, right?
How will you be different when you are standing on the other side of your dream, looking back?
We grow into our dreams by living them, feeling them, imagining them as if they already happened. Not by striving or hoping or wishing.
Your ability to imagine is the most powerful force you have.
Isn’t it amazing?
Theme, or message, is the DNA of your creative work. It’s not something you consciously add or layer on top of it. It’s where the Story touches the human soul. Message comes from within the work, it emerges organically and exists before the work comes into being. It’s there, though sometimes it takes a bit of gentle digging and patience to uncover it.
As the Writer, you’re the first Trustee of the Story. It’s your job to shape, craft and decide how the Story can be expressed in the most powerful, effective way. If it’s a novel, these decisions are entirely up to you. For a screenplay, this is where you have the most power, up front, to direct how a reader experiences the script and to ensure the Story has the substance to make it through the creative collaboration of nearly 200 people. It is your first and often only chance to lay out your vision for the characters and theme for the other writers who will be tasked with contributing to it.
Which leads to a question: does the Story ever really belong to you? I don’t think it does.
We’re the first Trustees. Charged with caring, nurturing, and writing the strongest Story we possibly can. Giving the Story the best possible chance of growing up into a powerful, self-reliant film by the sheer quality of our storytelling’s framework.
No matter how robust a script is, other people are going to take over caring for it. We have to remember our role as First Trustee and when given the opportunity, be willing to stand up firmly for what we know is sacred to the Story and the characters, and be willing to stand down, as well. And to do that professionally, we have to remember that there is more than one way to get a message across.
When I was starting out as a features writer, one of the first things I had to learn was to “let go” of the story to hand it over to an editorial team. I quickly learned that there is always more than one way to tell a story and still get the same message across. It’s the message you have to protect. Not the words.
When you are driven to protect the message, and not the words or expression, you’ll be able to craft your work to its fullest, and most powerful, potential. And when others are given the task of contributing to it, you’ll know what to measure.
It’s true that once your Story is bought, you may never have another word to say about it again. All the more reason why we have to make sure a script is the strongest, most robust ‘framework’ it can be.
The edit on the novel is coming along, nearing completion. I’ve been away from it for a couple of months, so it’s nice to come back and find out that the changes I made in the last round actually work. This story is nearing completion now, in the polishing stages – it went through seven full rounds of revision.
How does revision play into your art?
For me, it’s essential. Often, just when I think it doesn’t need any more, I end up starting another round. And that’s a good thing.
Distance, then revision, then a bit of distance (sometimes I just jump right back in though and focus on another aspect that needs attention) -round and round.
Yes, what is the “until” point in your art?
When you know that it is complete, when you feel that it has expressed itself fully?
We could go on and on in revision forever. Really, never stop. Mostly because of uncertainty and fear of taking command of the page (or work or art) and deciding that it is finished. Letting go of the fear and stepping into what’s next. The public.
How do you decide? When do you know? What speaks to you in that moment?
Faith is an integral part of a successful creative life. I’m not talking about religious faith, though for some, that may be the Source. The faith I’m talking about is a choice. A choice you have to make when you can’t see clearly, or when you hit a reversal in what you thought was your path, or when you face rejection and uncertainty. Again.
How you respond in those moments is very critical to how you shape your future.
We’re always presented with a choice: fear or faith.
I learned very early on in my career as a writer that I operate very differently when I’m driven by fear versus faith.
Fear: drives desperate, don’t-have-a-choice, take-anything-you-can-get decisions that gnaw at you because your Spirit knows you’ve made a decision that’s not aligned with Who You Are. You get a quick payoff of safety (sometimes) but in the long term you suffer.
Faith: drives calm, bold, risky choices that may not make logical sense, but they inspire such internal peace that you know it’s the right choice. You can’t see the payoff right off the bat (usually) but you have a steady sense that everything’s going to be okay, you’re being Guided and you trust that it will work out even better than you imagine.
Life presents these crossroads often in creative lives – projects, finances, clients, deals – they’re fluid. The Universe uses change in these areas as ways to motivate us to make different decisions, inspire us to think new thoughts, connect us to different people, realign us with what matters most to us and ultimately, deliver us into the life we’ve chosen.
So the next time you are faced with uncertainty, recognize that you have the power to choose between fear and faith.
And that what happens next depends on your decision.