Break to Create

When you look up in the dictionary to create means ‘to originate, to bring something into existence’. It comes from the Latin verb creare. I’m sure everyone has heard the saying that love is a verb and not just a noun by now. Creating is a bit the same. We tend to look and focus on the noun ‘creativity’ and dismiss the process which is often perceived as reserved to artists, intellectuals or inventors.

However everyday we create everything around us. For example we produce objects, results and new ideas, we build relationships, we create our bodies and our social media presence.

Often the creating process happens and we don’t even see or notice its subtleties because we are not taught to pay attention to it. One way I started to really see the process beyond the cognitive understanding of it was the occurrence of three events all at the same time.

Around this time last year I was producing a new TV campaign at work, renovating my flat, and negotiating a deal. All three creations were bound to budgets ($$$) limitations, (a lot of) responsibilities and (tight) deadlines.

Something humans naturally notice and pay a lot of attention to is conflict or problems. Essentially when things don’t go how we want them to go. In the creating process what often feels like conflict is the destructive moment when the result you want it’s not there yet and what was there previously seems to be of no value at this point. We all experience this in different ways. To me it felt just as disorderly ‘chaos’ in which everything old seemed to be lost and everything new seemed not present yet:

  • In the TV campaign ‘chaos’ happened in several critical points, usually they are the moments of passage from one phase to the other: when you transition from the script to the director’s storyboard to the lists of shots; when all the details are confirmed (the casting, wardrobe, locations, schedules) and the filming hasn’t happened yet; and then after the shoot when the editing is still in progress. Having commissioned various TV campaigns and content and this being my job, this felt quite cool. I have the capacity to hold the space for what is not there yet to come, I trusted the teams involved at the time and the creative we had.
  • In renovating my flat the first thing the renovation company did was to stripped away everything that was left in the flat: totally and completely. There were no doors, no architraves, no floor, no sanitaries, no kitchen, almost no walls as the remaining ones looked like Swiss cheese. This felt like my world was falling apart in front of me, packed in dusty black bags ready to be taken out.
  • In the deal there was a moment when the proposed solution was completely far away and the other party said ‘this is our deal’. This felt hopeless and in serious need of some more ammunitions to continue the negotiation.

To make things more interesting the moments of ‘chaos’ usually come with the responsibility to manage the expectations of everyone who’s part of the process but not directly involved as colleagues, family, and friends.

Through this experience I learned that it’s ok to not buy into the ‘chaos’. It’s our duty to see it as only one phase of the process. Destruction is part of creation. Sometimes it is real destruction like the very non-metaphorical wasted land of my flat, sometimes it is very manageable chaos like creating new visual content, sometimes it is just the rock bottom which will propel you up again in a new proposal. Because this happened all at the same time in my life I was able to stop and see the similarities of the process and because so much was at stake I was able to remained focused on the end results.

So in the end the TV campaign was exactly like we had imagined it to be, my flat is absolutely like I wanted it and the deal ended up being a favourable one.

Two of my favourite films from the campaign (produced by Steam):

My bedroom before and after (photos and design by me):

Main photo credit: the fabulous Emma Croman who shot the shooting of the TV campaign.

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