Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why do you create?

Something I have found to be too true, unfortunately, too many times in this industry (the biz of show), is that when writers and other great artists gain a degree of what others consider "success," particularly financial success, they forget why they started writing or creating in the first place. Why they were motivated to write that fantastic book or screenplay, act brilliantly in a fine film.

With the assistance of agents and others in the industry, the initial desire to create great, original stories and characters is replaced with the urgent need to create "what sells."

It happens to a lot of people who start out with lofty and noble intentions in just about any field - journalists, corporate executives, lawyers, politicians, actors, doctors, pharmaceutical researchers, educators.

Despite the promises made at the beginning of the new job, systems within which writers, directors, and other artists find themselves working tend to become restrictive, blocking creativity, innovation, an enterprising spirit and the belief one can make a difference within the working structure.

That working structure is generally in the form of a corporation.

But in the end, when we make the choice to work for the dollar rather than consistently improve our work, trade, craft or art - it can lead to significant unhappiness because we are no longer being true to ourselves.

Under these forces, what we end up creating can a sort of artistic identity crisis.

Artists can feel manipulated in the very place they believe they should be given the freedom to become all they can become and do all they can do. And then end up believing they need to stay in order to survive and support their families.

One way to prevent getting into this sort of conundrum is to be certain we get positions with good, enforceable contracts; that we not live "above our means," and that we select carefully the people with whom we work. People who are as dedicated and committed to quality production as we are, with the same work ethic.

I also know some very successful writers who chose to write pop - not so "artistic" scripts that made lots of money for their producers so they can write quality work as they make their way up the industry food chain.

Here's the deal: if you know what to expect - as these likable, smart, knowledgeable writers did - you can come into the industry prepared to succeed on your own terms.

If you come in naive, without understanding how the industry works - and doesn't work - you're in for a harsh surprise and can be disillusioned, angry and distracted from your real work. In short - be sure to study what it takes to succeed in whatever art you are pursuing so your chances of making it - again, on your own terms because you understand how the system works - are greatly enhanced.

Don't get me wrong - it's not like the successful writers worked with smoke and mirrors and slept their way to the top - ;-) - they *know* very well how to write. But as they worked hard on their craft, they also investigated the workplace they were entering. Both sides are crucial to your success.

This philosophy holds true in whatever vocation you choose!

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