Thursday, February 21, 2013
A GOOD START TO 2013: CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK
And just like that, it's already February.
It's scary how quickly the time passes sometimes. We all try and deal with this fact in our own way.
Some people try and rationalise it. Others go for the irrational, the 'live every day like it's your last' idea.
That's all well and good, but everyone has to wash their underpants eventually. It can't all be skydiving and adrenalin.
In this world of seemingly increasing pace, the start to the year therefore tends to be the time that attempted inspiration is in oversupply.
Recently, I was reading an interview from a screenwriter who felt compelled to mention the 'every minute counts' idea in almost every answer. I give the screenwriter his due for attempting to inspire people, but I am starting to believe this mantra is increasingly misguided.
So, rather than complain about it, I decided it was time to provide a possible alternative idea, for those in need of inspiration, to adopt. This can be your mantra for 2013, if it works for you:
CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK.
Yes, I know we should all be bungie-sky-kite-surfing, while eating nutritious supplements and working in our dream careers, because life really is what you make of it. HOWEVER, the 'every minute counts' slogan has actually turned counter productive, for a very good reason:
The guilt trip of not embracing today is less important than the sum of good work in the long run.
Do you have any notion of how much brain power it takes to support a person counting the seconds tick away, and worse, to worry incessantly about it?
This brain power would be much better spent on whatever it is you are passionate about. Work, cooking, family, or film.
Does feeling guilty about not spending every single millisecond on your dream project actually yield any positive results?
The answer, of course, is no.
And worse, the guilt can spawn negative behaviours, like working extreme hours to feel a perception of progress. Often, spending two or three intense hours on a project can yield more quality work output than spending copious 'unfocussed' hours.
But you ignore the impulse to stop for the day and get some rest, even though that would lead to better work overall. Why?
Because you have been told that 'every minute counts'. Until now.
CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. The guilt trip of not embracing today is less important than the sum of good work in the long run.
To get you started, I will show you how it's done.
I have a day job. There, I said it. In film and creative circles, this tends to be a source of shame. Others try and make you feel bad about it because you are not a 'true professional', earning your living off of your creative work. So today, instead, I am officially embracing it. Even though it means that I have to spend time away from working on my film projects. I am blessed to be able to live, eat, pay my rent and make films on the way to a sustainable career in film. What an amazing thing that I can be allowed to do that, when so many in the world have nothing.
So, I am officially cutting myself some slack. I won't feel shame or embarrassment for it anymore.
Besides, this need to have other revenue sources, while a film is being put together properly, is starting to permeate even Hollywood:
And as for you, stop berating yourself if you don't get everything done in a day.
Know that your career is only over the day you stop creating and working on your craft. Whether it takes you ten years to write that great script or 10 weeks, your process is yours to own.
Just make it great, and the outcome will justify the means.
But in the mean time, cut yourself some slack. You'll be happier and your work will be better for it.
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