By Marianne Bates
Anyone who is an artist knows the most difficult part of the journey is getting started.
What to paint, what cords to begin with, what hair style to use or what angle to hold the camera for that perfect shot. As a writer, staring at a blank page can be almost as terrifying as preparing for a dive off a 500 foot cliff – especially if you are working under a tight deadline. Coming up with my own stories is easy. It is when someone tells me what I have to write about that sometimes halts every creative bone in my body.
For example, I’m told I have to write about a yellow tomato being crushed by a dog at a farmers market and I need to make the story twenty minutes long. It can’t be funny, sexist, racial, violent, animated, have fart sounds or involve live animals. Can you include a four year old girl? (The client’s granddaughter just happens to be four years old and available for the shoot) Oh, and they need the story tomorrow.
I think to myself, “I can do this. I am a powerhouse of creativity and talent. Wait? The tomato is being squished by a dog … a dog is an animal … the story can’t involve an animal.” At this point the terror sets in. What should I write? My mind is a blank. I can’t seem to get the creative juices flowing.
I’m still staring at that blank page. What do I do? I walk away.
I grab my notebook and go for a walk. I daydream about the yellow tomato and how it meets its demise at the farmers market without being violent. As I am on my walk, I’ll jot down notes. If I still can’t think of anything, I’ll grab my recorder and go for a drive. A lot of great story ideas come to my mind while I’m driving. If I don’t have my recorder with me, I make notes while at a stop light or as soon as I reach my destination otherwise the idea is gone forever.
As I daydream, walk, drive or whatever, I think of a quote from Michael Neill:
“The mind doesn’t work like a camera. It works like a projector. The projector of mind takes the film of thought and projects it onto the screen of consciousness and it really looks like it’s happening out there…but none of it is actually happening, outside of our own minds, so just because a thought is in your head, doesn’t mean it’s true. No matter how long you’ve been stuck with something, no matter how real a problem looks, no matter how intractable a difficulty seems, you are never more than one thought away from a whole new experience of being alive.”
OK, the quote is a little deep, but it reminds me that nothing is impossible. If I can dream up a story, it can be made. Anything is possible. There are no limits.
Without limiting myself to available actors, locations or funds, I can create an amazing story about a yellow tomato being crushed in a non-violent way by a non-farting dog that is not a dog at a farmers market on Mars run by a four year old girl. I can do whatever I want I am the creator! The production team has to worry about making it happen. I feel inspired.
Let’s start writing!