As a TV producer/director and writer, most of my days are spent working against the clock with production schedules, story lines, and constant deadlines. While some might believe creativity strikes like a flash of lightening, the truth is that creativity is a learned discipline especially when you’re up against the clock.
Creativity is a learned discipline.
When I’m in the editing room cutting a TV episode, on location filming, or alone writing in my office, this remains true. If I waited for creativity to strike, then I’d spend most of my time standing around, or staring at a blank screen. The key is learning the discipline of being prepared, so that your creativity can be unlocked. Do the work ahead of time to know the story you are telling. Know the shots that need to be filmed before you’re on location. Spend the time developing characters that resonate before you write the next chapter.
Being prepared is key to creativity.
There are steps you can take to fuel your creativity before you write a single word. Spend time researching the areas of your story that you need to understand better. Whether it is a location, elements of a certain story line, or the unique characteristics of your characters, or the key pieces of your plot. Now, that doesn’t mean you get so bogged down in research that you never find the time to write. Just enough research to get you started, to fill in the holes, and allow you to keep the tension alive in your story.
Creativity forces you to ask yourself, “What is at stake?”
Asking yourself this question is a good way to keep your creative juices flowing. And it will help keep your ideas fresh. Writing. Producing. Directing. All of these avenues require you to keep the tension, to get to the core of the story, and to capture what you want others to see.
If you wait for inspiration, you’ll never write a word.
One way to be inspired is to find a place to write that allows you to be creative. Sometimes that location will change depending on where you are in your story. When I wrote The Disillusioned, most of it was written late at night on an iPad and in coffee shops around L.A. As I started to write my latest novel, Waking Lazarus, I switched it up and wrote most of it on my laptop in my office. About ten chapters from the end, I found myself in a rut. So I spent a few days at a friends home near the beach and wrote the final chapters in a notebook. I learned that the discipline of writing didn’t mean I had to do it the same way every time. What I needed to do was find the right place so that the time I blocked out to write could be creative and productive.
Creativity is fueled by productivity.
The more productive you are, the more the creative process flows. You get into a rhythm. You find the right angle. You see your characters jump off the page and you’re inspired to keep going. The more productive you are during your writing sessions, the more creative you’ll become in the days, months, and years ahead. Creativity fuels inspiration. Inspiration fuels productivity. And the result is more creativity.
How can you be more prepared? What do you need to know before you start? What is at stake? What inspires your creativity? What place allows you to be creative and productive?
Everyone has their own creative process, and the key is to find the one that works for you.