"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
-T. S. Eliot
Creativity is a muscle. Just like any other muscle, you must use it in order to make it stronger. However, creative burn out is real. It is not enough to exercise the muscle, you must exercise it properly.
We all know the old expression, "you are what you eat". I am a firm believer that you produce the quality of creative content that you consume. So, it would make sense that if you watch a bunch of garbage television for hours on end, all you would be able to write would be garbage screenplays, right? In a similar sense, if you consume nothing but low-quality cinema with shotty cinematography, all of your own work is going to be subpar. This works for any creative field - graphic design, music, photography, fine arts, dance... this list goes on.
Lately, I have been experiencing another dilemma in my own creative work; What is my personal style? Every creative draws inspiration from other artists because, let's face it, there are no new ideas. The world is thousands of years old, everything has been thought of. But, I think that is my favorite part of being a creative in this day and age. Not only do I have access to some of the best tools of my trade, but I also have a plethora of genius work to draw from to create my own material.
Filmmaking is no easy gig. There is so much to consider! First, you have to have an idea for a story, and not just any story, but the story. Then, you have to ask yourself, "What do I want this to look like/sound like/feel like?" This all comes before you even turn on a camera! Then, once production rolls around, you get to spend all of this time being stressed and nauseous, just hoping that you have made all of the right creative decisions while you pretend to know what the hell you're doing so that the rest of your cast and crew can keep their selves together, or the whole thing will derail in half of a second flat.
Somewhere in all of this, your voice exists. Every creative selection that you make, every minute detail says everything about you as a creative. Your signature, your fingerprint is in there.
I've done a little of everything - commercial work, short films, documentaries, corporate content. The last few weeks, I have really been searching deep in my heart to ask myself, "Self, what is it that you want to create? What is it that you want to give to the world?" I've done a lot of soul-searching and creative exploration to discover the answer to these questions, and I believe I am beginning to see a light at the end of a very dark and confusing tunnel. I am very excited to open this new door and shift my creative eye toward my goal. But, truthfully, I think I am most excited to share it with you.
For those creatives that are out there still searching, you are not alone. It's a journey, and I am convinced that it is a never-ending one. But, try to enjoy the ride. Half the fun of it all is discovering who you are as an artist. Throw on a peaceful playlist, light a candle, have some tea, go sit in the woods, or on a mountain, or your balcony in the city, breathe in the inspiration of the universe and just... listen. Discover. Explore.