Ah, commitment. As an emerging creative we are constantly told apply here, try this, create that – and people more successful than us tell us say yes to everything to ensure interesting
To some extent this is what one must do starting out to gain experience. I believe in this, it is extremely important. When I started out in theatre and writing disciplines I knew one person in that field, so networking and collaborating was key to making art.
But sooner or later, focus, a narrowing of objectives or whatever you wish to call it, is needed to achieve ambitions and grand schemes. Especially if you have considerable writing miles under your belt and you want to step up to another level.
But what about the ‘what if this project is the one…?’
Note to Self, a technology podcast, recently hosted Anil Dash, the coiner of the term JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out. He’s blogged that there should be a positive response to information overload, and that there is a way to handle the feeling that you are missing something.
JOMO encourages the pleasure in keeping something back for oneself from being online. It’s about understanding that in any exciting city many things are going on all of the time and that if you’re not at any of them tonight, that is fine. It’s completely OK that you are at this very
second not doing something that is instagrammable, twitter-ready or Facebook worthy. With all the media we consume it’s no wonder we can develop infomania.
As my main writing focus now is screenwriting, Facebook groups are invaluable for picking up jobs and knowing my industry. I like meeting new people and coming up with new ideas, joining new projects and attending networking events.
And social media are useful tools to discover what’s going on in the arts world. With friends and contacts abroad these tools are important for people to know others’ lives in some, if somewhat filtered, detail. As an artist you need to curate your ‘brand’ whether you like it or not. It is your responsibility to maintain an interesting profile so that when you apply for something your profile shows you’re passionate about craft as well as random cat videos. But all of this takes time out of your schedule. And crucially the time factor – the secret ingredient needed to bring most ideas to fruition is in short supply.
It was 2015 and I wanted to pursue some key projects. It was time to refine.
What if I took a step back?
I narrowed my own creative focus and what projects I really wanted ‘done’ by the end of a twelve month period. It helped that I could set deadlines, weekly writing targets and keep a writing diary. I found a project partner who was actively pursuing what I was – a completed feature film script in five and half months. I parked other projects that just weren’t ready yet and kept focussed on core work. I applied JOMO to the mentality of jumping at every arts bursary, or networking event and re-channelled that energy to propel my artistic practice forward.
This screenplay has since been set for a table read this summer. Using JOMO to redefine your artistic process effectively can do exactly what it suggests – free you up to experience joy of discovering what is most meaningful – and empowering the choices you have made when you have set aside specific time to pursue ideas. Fast forward twelve months the writing muscles are pumped and the hours are documented as time well spent.
As an emerging screenwriter my work is now in a position to pitch or collaborate – rather than still in the redraft stages that drag on and on. Using JOMO to help picks recreational activities is also a good idea. It’s not just for my career.
What would I rather be doing today? The answer mostly is my projects, I have only got two on at the moment, no three, I promise just three, for now anyway.
Have you redefined how you approach your creativity? What challenges do you face in kick-starting which direction to take and manage the choices along the way?