Saturday, April 30, 2022

The difficulty distinguishing between instinctual good advice and fear of failure

I went to a Stanley Kubrick exhibition in LACMA once and the one thing that really stuck with me was a piece of advice he was giving to somebody which was to beware of running with your first ideas about something. He likend it  to a game of chess where one must play out each potential move in his head over and over before executing it. At first I thought to myself, surely some ideas just come instinctively, but as I've grown and had more experience writing I've come to understand what he meant. Our ego is forever trying to find the easiest answer. Over and over again I find myself trying to solve a problem in a script that I'm writing, and I have an idea, and I'm off to the races with it, thinking it's been solved, but something is niggling at me, somewhere deep down below language, something I'm ignoring knows that in two months time this problem will resurface due to the band aid I consciously put over it. And it's training myself to recognise this feeling, or alarm, that is very much intangible because you cannot get at it with language, that is the difficulty.

When your inner critic causes hesitation, it's usually easy enough to distinguish as it's probably laced with negativity, but when your instincts are nagging at you, it can be a lot harder to define. Negative thoughts about something can usually be understood as egocentric; they're trying to protect you from some sort of failure, but, as hard as it is to detach yourself from the ego, it can be a lot harder to catch a hold of the wise old man living in your gut. 

Right now I'm trying to write a feature film and I'm having an extremely hard time articulating my vision, so much so, that I've had to take a break from it because it was generating so much negative thoughts that I've been considering giving up on it all together. That would make it my third abandoned feature script - a scary thought that if fed could potentially evolve into one that indicates that the task is above my scope and that urges me to give up on it, so, we won't go down that road. Instead, we'll write everything down in a blog post that nobody will read, just for some personal therapy. 

See some days if I read my work I feel sick in my stomach and internally I'm telling myself that this is absolute shit and nobody will ever like it, but another day, reading the same work, I'll declare myself a genius! So from experience I know that I'm sometimes just not in the mood and should do something else but it's very hard to shake off that negative feeling, remain positive, and start fresh the next time.

Every artist has learned over time that you have to ignore your inner critic or you won't get anything shipped, but, you also have to listen to that other voice that's telling you you're running away with yourself. I feel like you see this in many established successful artists, who, after having done incredible work in their earlier years, then, seem to phone it in for the rest of their lives. I used to think that was because when you're really successful, you're surrounded by 'Yes Men' who'll never be honest with you, and, I'd swear to myself that if I ever got to that position I wouldn't let it happen to me, but, now, I'm thinking that the 'Yes Men' might just be inside of you and were there all of the time, you were just a lot better at recognising them when you were more determined to make it.  

So let's, for now, call these yes men; The Schoolboys, standing around waiting for something to cheer for, and then that will leave us with a need to name the other wiser aspects of your mind. Maybe we should call them Stanley, for the sake of a circular narrative. Well the thing is that Stanley's not going to shout. Stanley's learned that shouting is heard, but rarely listened to, so, we're going to have to be patient and wait for the noise to die down, before Stanley will tell us what he thinks of our new idea.

Alright, I think we're ready to get stuck back in.


I feel like my world is narrowing. Moments of reflection and inspiration are becoming few and far between. Engaging with nature doesn't ...