20 Thoughts on Creativity, Productivity and Marketing

1. There are only so many times you can share your new headshots or boast about being ‘on set’. People want to see your finished projects.

2. It’s not a race to be the busiest. I know people who don’t feel good unless they’ve had six meetings in a day. In this industry your time might be better spent alone in your room all day reading the right book.

3. Because now hardly anyone is doing that – the reading, or the watching. When we’re busy and stressed, the first thing we lose is the ability to take things in, to watch, read, observe. The things you put out are hugely influenced by the things you take in.

4. Your partaking in the rat race is the least interesting thing about you.

5. You first got into this industry because of some silly little thing — you were obsessed with a particular actor, or maybe you watched a certain show on repeat. It takes a lot of years to realise the most important thing you can do for yourself is to go back and reconnect with the things you love the most. They’ll help align you with your true self and guide you towards your deepest goals.

6. Don’t tell everyone you meet about your projects. Talk to them about your passions.

7. ‘Don’t Waste Your Time on Jealousy’ – so true. Nothing that anybody else is doing has anything to do with you.

Get good at what you do. Do it so much that you become the only person who can do that specific thing. That’s what you’ll get hired for.

8. Rest.

a) Switch off. Listen to disco music. The main advice I give to creative friends – and the thing I have the hardest time doing myself – is to let go, even just for a weekend, or a day, an hour!

b) To switch off you need to do something completely unrelated to the industry.

i) Gardening.

You could do the gardening, it might be fun. But will you treat it too much like a work project? If so:

ii) Do something meaningless. Play a console game with friends. Obsess over what songs Bruce Springsteen is playing on tour (this is my personal obsession), meet up with an old friend and climb a tree.

It’s essential to step outside of that giant work motor that took over your head.

9. Guilt about what you do or aspire to do for a living is hurting you. Be proud of watching movies in the middle of the day. Realise teachers and parents no longer decide what is a good use of your time. This is your life and you’re an artist.

10. Your job is simple: collect ideas, share ideas.

The most interesting person in any room is the one who let’s him or herself off the hook. Who can follow their muse, indulge in a spontaneous idea and run with it. They’re not ruled by guilt or fear or jealousy. And when they feel those things they dive right in where things are cooking and find the one thing that can save them: ideas.

Ideas about who you are.
Ideas about the script you just read.
The play you just saw.
The story you want to write.

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11. Stand for something. Don’t just be a wandering generality looking for a job. What do you care about? What makes you laugh? What fires you up? Find what is specific about you, what excites you, and infuse that in everything you do.

12. Be Spontaneous. Especially if you’re gaining traction and finding success. A bit of exposure creates fear – fear that it will vanish.

This fear makes you risk averse. But those risks are everything!

13. The best risks, creatively, exist just outside of how you identify yourself.

When you say “I don’t like..” followed by a genre or actor (for example), you are closing an uncomfortable part of yourself off.

Next time you’re in a rut, look at the doors you are closing. Push them open, keep an open mind, you’ll be surprised by what you find.

14. Share the essentials on social media but don’t go there for approval. It’ll hijack the part of you that wants and needs to focus on bigger projects.

15. Don’t moan about the industry, embody the change you want to see.

This industry is full of inequality. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be vocal about it but spending your days tweeting complaints is just farting into the wind.

Write things. Produce things. Find a team. Use your creativity.

16. Use your Creativity.

Nothing you make is wrong. It’s all valid. Try things. The more you try, the more you learn. The successful ones are the ones who stuck at it for the long haul.

17. Longevity.

Last week I had one client call me lucky and another call me talented. Both comments miss the mark. Any work I get is due to the work that came before it.

18. Don’t burn out.

Don’t prioritise the work over your life. Don’t make yourself sick.

I know Spielberg made ‘Jaws’ at 26 but his journey is nothing to do with yours or mine. Where we are is where we deserve to be right now. Take a breath, think about your work, and then take another step forward.

19. Share.

And by that I mean: put your work out there. You don’t have to harass your potential audience. Good work finds its way. If it doesn’t click, you’ll do better next time.

20. Say No.

If you don’t want to do it, don’t. It’s your career, your life, your art.

Email Me: dj@danieljohnsonfilms.co.uk

Twitter: @DanielJohnsonUK

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Daniel Johnson
Writer, Director, Author