Hey, remember that awesome concept you showed your friends in your mid-20s and everyone thought it was great and it was something you were proud of … but then you didn’t do anything with it?
Yeah, let’s talk about that.
Sure you got the steady job, worked your way up the ladder, but whatever happened to that one thing that really made you happy? Did you hit 30 and decide, “Well, it’s too late now, can’t do that anymore … at least I have this chimichanga.”
Listen, put the chimichanga down and follow me. (Trust me, I love chimichangas but now is not the time.)
A concept, a project, a passion, they are all different forms of an art project waiting for you. They’re things that make you happy in a way that filling out budget reports or conducting an employee evaluation just will not do.
All art is good and all art is bad. It’s subjective. You may think that whatever you have to say or create is stupid or uninteresting, and that simply is not true.
But, fair warning, let this reality sit in: When you start, your stuff will be bad (pretty bad.) You have to work through all the clichés and boring ideas before you can makes your voice unique.
Creating is not hard, but it needs dedication and discipline — and that’s the hard part.
I recently found a first draft of a poem I wrote in sixth grade about “Angels.” It’s pretty terrible. In that draft, I kept interchanging “angels” with “angles” and, seriously, it’s an embarrassing, sad piece of work (even for 11-year-old Ahmed).
So, why did I just embarrass 11-year-old Ahmed? Because that’s how anything creative works. You start with an idea that’s not fully formed and you work on it. Time and dedication help hone your skills, and eventually you become more efficient in making your idea better.
I am a writer and director. I have people tell me that they love my scripts and the projects I’ve directed.
Personally, I hate them.
Why? Because I see where I can make improvements. I see where if I removed one word from four lines of dialogue, my character’s moment would land better or if I cut 12 frames (half of a second) from a shot, the tension would build better. I see these faults because I love my passion.
The constant desire to do better is how we sharpen our skills. It is how any artist becomes better.
Balancing work and art is not easy, but it does have its benefits. Breaking from the “work thought process” and thinking abstractly will help boost your work performance. It allows you to tackle problems from a different perspective and solution.
Schedule yourself a block of time. Whether it is 45 minutes a day or three hours on the weekend, dedicate that time to working on whatever it is that really makes you happy: Take a photograph, make a table, write a story or develop a stand-up routine. Just sit down and do it.
The beauty in creating art is simply this: There are no 9-to-5 problems; the entirety of the universe is focused on you and your blank piece of paper.
Remember, your mind will hold you to a certain quality and, initially, you will not achieve it. Do not get discouraged. As time goes on, you will get closer and closer to the bullseye.
That is creativity. That is you finding your voice.
The only thing holding you back is yourself.
(Here’s your chimichanga back, by the way… Sorry I took a bite.)
Ahmed Siddiqui is a writer and director for Cyantist Agency, a digital media and marketing consulting agency in Lafayette. He is a board member for the705 young professionals group and preparing to shoot a feature-length film in Acadiana.
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