I sometimes look at people who are wildly creative and wish I could create magic on the spot. I am slower. I can do some things on the fly, and really enjoy looking at a production in the works and tweaking as things come to me, but mostly my inspiration is the result of perspiration. A book by Twyla Tharp (choreographer legend) talked about how creativity was the result of discipline, that when you created the structure and framework properly, you were free to fill it with great stuff. Or something like that. I haven’t actually read it, but was told about it by a friend (whose creativity I covet) who was very impressed by the concepts in the book. (Thanks, Jen.) Yeah, I know, I should read it before I start using it as a source, but nevertheless, my limited experience would lead me to agree.
You may not be able to force the creative juices, but if you wait around for them to feel like they are ready to flow, you may be waiting a long time. A long, long time.
When I am about to tackle a new project, it is the organizer in me that grabs a hold first. Before I think too much about the nitty gritty details (which I definitely will spend plenty of time on eventually), I try to wrap my head around the whole thing, the big picture. That is how I prepare, as a director, for the audition process. I need to know what I am getting into before I can line up the people who I want to take that wild ride with me.
The obsession. Yeah. I read the script, figure out who is in which scenes, what major furniture or set pieces need to move on and off, where they need to come from (if it matters), how many different costumes each character needs, make a prop list, make a sound effects list, make a preliminary rehearsal schedule (ultimately to be extremely detailed), figure out who sings which songs, and start thinking about set design. I have started all that for Xanadu. Some of my charts and graphs I won’t end up even using, but I have learned that for me, it all helps me feel like I’m on top of what is going to happen. It helps me make sense of it. It will hopefully keep me from having too many surprises along the way, and will, from very early on, allow me to pace myself so I avoid last minute panic. Or at least the last minute panic that can be avoided. There’s always something. Always.