Let your why drive
What you’re creating isn’t as important as why you’re creating it.
That’s what drives prolificacy. And the secret is, once you identify the running imperative that drives your creative behavior, the nobility behind your work and the posture with which you approach your art, the what will make a habit of present itself.
When I started preproduction on my first documentary, my videographer asked about my vision for the film. Having never worked in that medium before, I decided to let my why drive the process. And so, I wrote my creative vision for the movie, not only as a personal exercise, but also as a directorial rubric for the team’s behaviors at all phases of the creative process. Here’s what I wrote:
Here’s what am I trying to do with this movie. I have a bunch of songs and stories and sermons and scenes. They’re all meaningful to me and I want to share them with the world through the medium of a movie. I don’t know what it is, I don’t care what it is. All I know is why I want it to exist, and that’s because I’m a person who expresses and communicates and shares his feelings and ideas in a prolific way with the world. And since I’ve never tried doing so through this particular medium, I’m taking initiative and finding a new way to do what I do.
I have a passion to mass communicate, to beguile people with words and images and ideas and stories and music that transfix and compel, and I want to use every possible form of media to circulate my views, extend my sentiments and make my thoughts and feelings and expressions accessible to as many people as possible. Even if that means inventing new methods of communicating. I don’t care about making money or making a name for myself, I don’t care about being right or good or accurate, I just want to have this visual archive of these things that are important to me.
That was my why.
And over the course of the project, in those moments when I was feeling overwhelmed or tired or sick or not in the mood to do any kind of creating, I read that email to remind myself why I do what I do.
Sometimes I even read it aloud.
How do you remember why you do what you do?