I’ve been asked a lot over the last few months about how I can be so busy with different projects. My response is that I actively seek collaborative partners so I keep creatively stimulated. The other major influence for me wanting to delve into the collaborative process with projects like Ship Notes, Simone, Nascent Collage .etc. is because it makes me do work. By including other people you’re actively spurring them on to do work and therefore creating an environment where you too have to respond. In essence you’re not wanting to let anyone down. So you do the work. If only for that reason alone, it makes me work hard. Some people may not like that approach, but it works for me. It keeps it simple transaction.
“If you don’t do the work you will let someone down. So do the work.”
And voila! I do the work. It actively engages your brain with the notion that if I do A then B happens. It’s something we already know but it’s putting it in a different context. I apply it to all areas of my work. In my own theatre work I’ve gone out of my way to avoid doing what I need to do, we all do it. For me a lot of my work is off my own back which means there are no enforced deadlines or definite productions so I meander through the weeks and come up with excuses. But because I’m juggling different projects it makes me focus in on what I need to do. It crafts its own work schedule.
“I’ve got to respond to so-and-so’s part of the project and then I want to do some brainstorming on my play, oh and by that time the other so-and-so might have got back to me with their next chunk of the project so I’ll look at that…”
Overall it makes me aware I’m generating work for myself. And that’s how it should be. It makes me feel like I’m doing something and keeps me busy. And when I say busy I don’t mean it just in the literal sense, but I mean creatively busy. I’ve been lucky in that so far two collaborative projects have worked so well that the end fruition will be displayed to the public. But that should never be the end goal essentially – if you embark on something only because of the end result you’ve got your perspective all wrong. Fair enough you may have a project you want to release into the world, but the thought has to be put into it otherwise it’s a hollow shell of what it could be. And that ‘thought’ translates as work. It should be an area of your life devoted to keeping yourself creatively fresh and bouncing off ideas with people, helping someone else out of a creative funk and being a support but through your work. The idea should always be, “let’s create an environment where we can fail and it doesn’t matter”. Nothing should be sacred, nothing should be too polished otherwise you’re not really listening to each other. It should be one big experiment, nothing is concrete. Not only will it allow you to explore areas that you might not have pondered on before, but it will also heighten your awareness of working with other people either in the same medium or a different one.
I’m not saying that everyone reading this should instantly fire off an email to a whole bunch of people demanding they work on a collaborative project. But I do suggest mulling over if there’s someone you know in a different creative field who might be open to the suggestion of ping-ponging some ideas. You never know where it will lead, but I bet you anything you’ll learn something from it. Whether it’s never to do it again or not is another thing. The absolute worst that could happen is that it doesn’t work for you. It’s just an idea.