I have spent the last 7 days busy with a series of paid creative jobs, creating scripts for various projects involving TV and live shows. And again, more than anything, I am made crucially aware of how important intent is in creativity.
In an email timed 3:30am that I received back on one of these jobs, my script is criticised as lacking in depth, wit, humour, detail and gavitus (sic). This on a brief (from a different producer) that required simplicity, directness and no complications because of the number of guest presenters.
Now apart from the fact that this is a massive annoyance that now requires a major rework, it is a brilliant demonstration of the role of intent in creativity. I am perfectly capable of wit, humour, detail, gravitas and depth. In fact just about everything else I write is riddled with these factors. To write them out is what took work. Seven days work just about actually.
So with correctly set intent, we could all have had a finished product that was on point from the get go. Instead now I have to field questions about my ability to deliver on brief, my technical soundness and therefore the threat to future work and income from this one source. No intent was set and the resulting product is judged negatively against a pre-existing, non-defined set of criteria: Problem.
What this is interesting is that most often, this is what we do to ourselves in our creative lives. When we set out to write a song, a poem, a story, a novel or what have you. We set our intent as being: We’ll just bang this out quick, it’ll be easy and I can then get on with life. But when we produce something half baked, light and fluffy, we are upset. Instead of doing that back room work and preparing ourselves mentally to do some thinking and research and structural planning, we go off half cocked.
What interests me is not so much as to how often we do this, but why. Are we so scared of failing at the biggest and proudest of our dreams that it is easier to do everything half hearted and fail because we knew we would anyway? Or are our dreams so cherished that we dare not lose them through realising them fully? A dreamer cannot be unchanged by the emergence of a fully realised dream. Someone who has failed continues in the comfort zone and maintains the status quo. But to succeed is to grow and to change… Is this what we truly fear?
Is this why we are not honest about our real intent? Because then we will always fail, will not be required to change? Is it really true that above all we fear that we shall succeed? I am beginning to think so. As I embark on the concrete realisation of my dream held since childhood in a manner that is likely to succeed I am riven with nameless fears and doubts.
What I do know is that once we set a clear, defined and honest intent, the playing field shifts accordingly and stakes rise, fears grow, but clarity and plans multiply in response. Our real intent is often hidden from us in a maze of narrative and ego-stories. Stop and think about it next time, and see if you can sort the real story out from the narrative and see what results you get when you set your intent more clearly and honestly.