What is the longest time you have ever spent thinking about a project?
I spent the past 10 months thinking about my new series. I created other images in that time, but this new series felt too important to bang out quickly. I knew, from the moment it felt crucial to create something relevant to my life, that it was going to be more important than anything else I had created before. In March 2017 I decided that I must create this new series. In May, I had my first breakthrough as to the specific subject matter of the series. And, for the months following, I felt that I didn’t have a single other good idea.
I had the usual panicked feelings about time (Am I wasting it? Shouldn’t I be more productive?) and about artistry (Am I a good enough artist? Does that matter?). As time pressed on, more and more people asked me where that series was that I teased. They asked what it would look like, what point I was aiming to make, where I would shoot, who would be in it, and the list goes on.
I didn’t have a single answer to a single question.
By September I started getting worried that this series wasn’t meant to be. I started to think deeply about TIMING, and waiting for the right moment to tell the right story. Was this my time? Or was I rushing something for the sake of productivity?
By November I started to calm down. I came to terms with, perhaps, this not being the right series in this moment. I started to let go of it, just a little. I loosened my grip on the need, the anxious compulsion, to create.
And then everything changed.
It wasn’t until one week ago,
after ten months of trying to visualize and conceptualize this series,
that it finally made sense.
I went on a long hike with my Love, as we do several times a week just to brainstorm, and it felt so clear. I had been so caught up in precise details that I failed to look at the big picture. And then there it was.
Ten months ago I had an idea. I’ve had so many ideas I’ve lost count. Those ideas got turned into pictures, films, sketches, poems, short stories, books. My ideas have been done and redone and cried over and laughed at and loved. Why was this one different? Why did this one take ten months to scrap together?
And this, my friends, is my greatest lesson in creating this series…which I have not yet even picked up my camera yet to shoot:
Not every idea is ripe for the
moment you want to create it.
I feel, strongly, that my waiting to make this series was to make room for new experience, for distance, for growth.
I am a young artist in many respects, without tallied life experiences and heartache, without the type of inspiration that hurts to create from. This year I found a piece of that tortured inspiration, and it took longer than I realized it would to digest. More importantly, I realized the need for distance from our inspiration. I realized the need for deep thinking in art. And I realized how few people do that, myself included.
I grew up in this must-have-it-now culture. I grew up with internet in my house since I was 10 years old. My first screen name was based on the Pound Puppies, because I was a child, and therefore I learned that what I want now, I can have now – a lesson that buoyed me to a fast-paced career and self-centric decision. But, also, a mentality that gave me the undue urgency to create fast, to share fast, and to repeat.
Slow progress in creating art allow for concepts to emerge that might have been overlooked. It allows for more daring and evocative imagery to take shape and hold, without fear or shyness there to stop it. It allows for my own feelings to see them from a distance. And most importantly, it allowed me to grow with my ideas, not just to move ahead of them.
When I return from a two week trip to India and Sri Lanka in February, I will begin creating immediately. Locations are being booked, props being made, models contacted, and I’m ready. I feel certain I am ready.
1. What idea are you brainstorming right now?
2. What is holding you back from creating?