Better together

By Amelia Brown

Collage by Marcos Guinoza

I blame montage scenes. You know the ones. Those ones where something good happens or someone has an idea, someone buys new wallpaper even, and then they carry this moment of happiness and inspiration, this olive branch from the universe, through several days worth of redecorating or making a life-changing business deal happen, or sending the first rockets into space. Under a painstakingly chosen song we see the characters laughing and smiling, working hard then celebrating as if all it takes is that one moment. Of course, that's not true at all.

A novel doesn't take one moment of inspiration. In fact it usually takes at least a year of hard work, multiple rewrites, and serious amounts of self-discipline. Unlike within normative job structures, as freelance creatives, we don’t have weekly targets to meet or managers to keep us on track. Not that I’m advocating that. I’m certainly not about to give up on this and get a 9-5. But sometimes (usually the days spent twiddling my thumbs and staring at blank pages) I do find myself missing the structure. I miss being accountable to someone, for something, I miss someone else helping to push me. This industry is hard, and it is hardest by yourself. That’s why collectives and communities like this are so vital.

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"Under a painstakingly chosen song we see the characters laughing and smiling, working hard then celebrating as if all it takes is that one moment."

You may have heard a phrase along the lines of, “You have to step over people to get to the top.” I don't think that this is the way the creative community works best. We do not have the normative systems of society to support us, so we must support each other. I have started going for writing coffees with friends where we catch up, free-write and ask each other about what we are working on until we are shamed into going beyond the drawing board at last. I meet my mum for coffee every two weeks and we compare to-do lists - she reminds me that it is okay not to have written three plays, a novel and seven articles in a day, but isn’t afraid to tell me that four days of straight Netflixing (all in the name of finally finishing ‘Gilmore Girls’) is not going to get me anywhere I want to be.

Any creative process requires multiple moments of inspiration, ups and downs, days where all you can do is write and days where you give up ten times over. Find people who you can lean on, who support you and encourage you and hold you to account if you haven’t written a word in months. And make sure you are doing the same for them. As creatives, we need to find each other, support each other and work with each other. This a manifesto for a creative collectivism that will push us to write, paint, act, sing, and hopefully keep us sane in the meantime.