I admit, I’ve always been a bit of the brooding artist type.
I honestly detest talking to other writers about writing. The mere thought of engaging in some sort of “community” of like minded creatives is cause for eye rolls and gruff sighs from yours truly.
I despise everything I’ve ever created and am easily my biggest critic. Though, less of a critic and more of an ever-persistent internet troll.
One of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome was the idea that being a writer meant I could only write. Time spent watching movies, listening to music, playing video games, socializing, was time I was losing getting to where I want to be. It was a tough hurdle and one that was not easily broken until inspiration came from the most unlikely place.
I was in college, perusing Twitter as college students in 2010 were wont to do, when I saw a tweet by Patton Oswalt. Obviously, I don’t remember the exact phrasing of the tweet, but it was along the lines that “Consuming the creative works of others is as beneficial to one’s work as actually creating.” Thus, as a writer, it was as important and useful to my life to indulge in stories and conversations as it was to actually produce them. It was all a matter of having the ability to reflect on them in the proper context. To take things in, highlight things I liked, pitfalls I want to avoid.
Reading is a chance to sample the narrative construction or experimental prose of others. Watching movies is a case study on narrative and dialogue construction for film. Socializing is a chance to develop ideas and conversations or jokes to pepper into work. It all can add so much value to the overall quality of the work I try to create.
Recently I’ve taken to seeing one film a week. One new film, fresh in theaters. Sure it costs money, but it’s given me the opportunity to indulge in a wide variety of ideas and themes. It’s been refreshing to skip through a different world each week. To see different acting performances and dialogue construction. Different approaches to similar ideas. It’s become my temple, but not one of escapism, one of growth and creative expansion.
I think it’s important for any creative or artist to remember that the world beyond your immediate body of work is a smorgasbord of ideas, inspiration and education. There are so many opportunities to grow your own vision, to be inspired to try something new. Just don’t waste any moment. Approach the world as a delicious spread of idea tapas for the group of snooty middle-aged women that is your brain. Dive in and consume, translating all you can to the page or the canvas or the clay or the screen.
Stay hungry, friends.
And thanks, Patton. (Buy his book!)