UNTITLED: candid notes, thoughts & reflections on the creative process…

Darn you, Blaine Hogan. DARN YOU.

Here I am, in the middle of a frantic day—trying to meet deadline—every minute is spoken for. I get an email from you with a draft of your new book, UNTITLED. I didn’t have time, but curiosity got to me and I opened your PDF anyway, just to take a look. Read the whole thing in an hour–it was like therapy. AMAZING.

Thanks for writing this. It’s candid. Refreshing. Provoking. Empowering. Funny. Awkward. Needed. Loved it. Well done.

A few of the excerpts I scratched down as I read:

  • Yes, I was a theatre kid. Deal with it.
  • You must always have something more for them to see. Always. Always. Always.
  • With numerous blog posts and countless Text Edit files open (and after some helpful
 coaching from my lovely wife), I closed my computer and just wrote the thing out by 
hand.
  • Instead of adding more words, or images, or lines, or verses to clear things up, we 
should be thinking about what can we remove.
  • Full creative freedom is not really what we need. To create meaningful work the artist must have constraints.
 Whether itʼs budgets, deadlines, or resource limitations, if not for these boundaries your
 work will never see the light of day. Without constraints, I wonʼt finish anything and what I do complete probably wonʼt be very good.
  • The thing about big projects is that they tend to be less like one, giant to-do list, and
more like landing planes – lots of planes – jet liners, twin prop Cessnas, helicopters -
that just keep coming. With large projects there are always things flying through the air that you must carefully
 place on the ground. Some planes need to be coordinated one at time, and others come at you all at once. Some come down nice and easy, and some have turbulent landings. 
The thing about landing planes, however, is that you never really feel “finished” in the same way you do after checking everything off your to-do list, because you know 
there is always another plane on the horizon.
  • Instead of holding my breath until “things are done,”
Iʼm starting to breathe while Iʼm “doing the things.”
  • I used to whine. A lot.
 So much so that as a kid, when I was in my rarest of forms, my dad would exclaim,
“Well look who it is…Blainer The Complainer!” 
I wish I could say Iʼve changed.
I still whine. 
Not as much as when I was a kid, but more than Iʼd care to admit.
  • The best ideas must move you before they can move someone else. 
And so you must begin at your core.
  • “If people skimp on their inner work, their outer work will suffer as well.”
- PARKER PALMER
  • The only way you can achieve this kind of maturity as an artist is by entering your own 
story and doing inner work.
 
What do I mean by “inner work?” 
I mostly mean some kind of psychological therapy combined with some form of prayer 
life.
(I can already hear the outcry)
  • Psychology without spirituality is arid and ultimately meaningless, while spirituality 
without grounding in psychological work leads to vanity and illusions. Both have informed my work and both are integral.
 You cannot have one without the other. 
In fact, if weʼre really interested in what Parker Palmer has to say, all our work should be
moving towards integration.
 Psychology with spirituality. Spirituality with art.
  • If the aim of your art is to invite people into their own hearts and stories…
…well then…
…you must be willing to enter yours first.
 As my good friend, Dan Allender always says, 
“You have absolutely no business taking us to places youʼre unwilling to go yourself.”
  • I love all things awkward.
 Awkward conversations, awkward introductions – you name it. 
If itʼs awkward, Iʼm in.
  • Against the advice of many in the acting world, I went. 
I had to confront the awkwardness. I had to go to seminary.
 Which, while weʼre on it, is one of the most awkward places you can think of.
  • YOUR ART IS YOUR CONFESSION. Yes, confession means to confess what youʼve done wrong, but it also means to
 confess what you believe to be true.
  • Iʼm all for fringe exploration. Iʼm all for rebellion. Iʼm all for slashing through the empire.
 But not if it costs me my center.
  • Eventually the product is going to fail. 
When your art is only in your product and not also in your process,
things will always end this way. 
You must understand that your art is not just what you make but how you make it.
 Your art isnʼt just the “what” of the end result, but also “how” you got there.
  • Think of the companies, causes, and organizations you believe in. 
We donʼt believe in these things simply because of their products or because of what 
they sell. We believe in them because the stories they tell give meaning to our lives.
  • The person who doesnʼt make mistakes, is unlikely to make anything.
- Paul Arden
  • Failure is painful but it cannot be personal. When you donʼt take your failures personally you open them up to becoming 
experiences that can transform you.
  • Is it any wonder Harvard psychologists have concluded the following: 
“We are already the most over-informed, under-reflective people in the history of
 civilization.” - ROBERT KEGAN & LISA LEHEY
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About Kem

Learning from my mistakes. Advocate of less clutter, less noise.

2 responses to “UNTITLED: candid notes, thoughts & reflections on the creative process…”

  1. Sarah Holbrook says :

    These were great Kem, thanks for sharing.

  2. Karen Kubiak says :

    Kem, thanks a million for the notes!! I’m going to have to buy this book for myself, and my creative staff.

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