on creative process and fear

My creative process seems to be as follows: come up with a crazy concept; work it through until I can ‘see’ it take some kind of shape in my mind’s eye; then ignore it for a while to see how much it pesters me. If it bugs me enough then talk to some people to test it and help fill it out; find some people who might want to get on board as partners or collaborators; do some research; then apply for some funding, which quite often gets rejected. At which point I either get distracted by some other interesting challenge and promise myself I’ll come back to it later OR accept that it was a rubbish idea/had no market, etc, and let it go OR (if I really believe in it) work out what other options I might have for making it happen.

Once I decide at that final stage that I want to go ahead, it becomes a make or break thing. How the hell am I going to realise this thing that’s now been bugging me for (in this case) over two years? Why has it been rejected? Is it because it’s crap and doesn’t deserve to exist; does it ‘not fit currently recognised ideals of artistic excellence’ (aka ‘is that weird niche geeky stuff that isn’t really art anyway’); or (most frequently) is there just not enough money to go around?

So this, right now, is my make or break time. I’m about to launch my first ever crowdsourced funding campaign to raise money to buy and rig the bus and host my first guest. In order to go so broadly public with the idea, and talk to sponsors (something I’ve never had before) I need a one-pager. This needs to explain who I am, what I want to do, why I think it needs to be done and what I hope to achieve. It goes alongside a cover letter or email explaining how I need ‘their’ help, targeted to whoever ‘they’ might be.

Defining the sprawling mass that is reallybigroadtrip down to just one page has been hell. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been a practising artist for a few years. Maybe it’s because I’m in a new country. Maybe it’s because the whole point is that it happens organically and I can’t – don’t want to – set it in stone so soon. Maybe it’s just so huge, could be equally so amazing AND fail so vastly, that it scares the living *** out of me. Maybe all of those things.

A few weeks ago I drafted yet another version with the resolve to send it to friends and colleagues for feedback. I even did my crowdsourcing thing and shouted out on Facebook to see who might want to help out by offering feedback. That one pager was actually three pages. It went in a totally different direction to my usual approach and I kind of knew it wasn’t right. The feedback I got (thank you all so very much) was wonderful; supportive, encouraging and yet critical in an extremely constructive and helpful manner. But I still couldn’t edit that down to make it better. I had to start YET again. And so I procrastinated. Again.

Anyway. This morning I had the following twitter conversation:

a Good Friday twitter conversation with Greg Ackland about struggling to define your work



In the true spirit of rbrt – “crowdsourcing my life & exploring digital culture by using digital culture” – here’s that one-pager. Let me know what you think.


I also meant to mention that today was my first time using the Pomodoro timekeeping technique. I’d looked into it before but never actually tried it out. Thanks to Paul Callaghan‘s recommendation I gave it a whirl and it was absolutely perfect for my current working style. I’ll be keeping that one!

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