This week’s letter comes once again from Paris. It’s a chilled trip this time - a chance for calm before a stormy September.
This week I wrapped the forthcoming series with Jaron Lanier - it now joins a production line of headline writers, landing page designers and promotional materials, in preparation for mid-September.
I don’t always feel a big sense of accomplishment when I finish a film. More often, my process is to work at it until I’m so bored of the damn thing I just want it off my desk - I know a video is ‘finished’ when I’ve run out of energy to keep refining it.
But what I do like at the end of a project is the excitement of starting something new.
One of the benefits of my little genre of storytelling is that (unlike a novel, graphic novel or feature film) I get to start a new thing several times a year. That’s a rhythm that suits me. Daily and weekly deadlines feel too rushed, whereas a year or more feels too stagnant. But every few months is the Goldilocks zone. Maybe my creativity is connected to the seasons.
Speaking of seasons, I like the chance to ‘rotate my crops’ when I start new project.
If I have just finished a big series about one idea, the last thing I want to do is another big series about something similar. I want to mix it up - a short two minute piece about a completely different subject, in a different style.
I have often wished that I was an artist who could do one thing with consistency - if you look at the creators out there who have built big audiences, that reliability is a factor.
And consider this, from Neil Gaiman’s famous 2012 commencement address:
Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right.
My mind seems to work the opposite way: if you look back at my old videos, they flit from topic to topic like a hummingbird. I can’t even make this newsletter about one thing!
It is frustrating to work hard in the direction of a mountain only to find, as you take a step closer to it, that the mountain has moved.
But that has happened with me so many times now that I have to believe that it’s a feature not a bug.
Creativity wants expansion, I think. It wants to feel like it is always growing, being stretched - otherwise it is contracting.
Recently I have felt my creativity pulling me towards different mediums - mediums I am a beginner in. Rather than fighting it, I’m going to follow that curiosity, even if it means the mountain moves again.
Until next Sunday,