Articulating the Process
Updated: Apr 16
I’ve always been curious about articulating the process of creating art. Process is literally whatever you do to create the work. Over time you discover what works and what doesn’t. For me, I am constantly looking for what's effective and exciting. If what I’m doing is effective, then I can repeat it and get similar results.
An early attempt to organize my process started in 1997 with a journal to document the evolution of 'creating a character'. That process included how I memorized lines, backstory, costume, accent, etc. I wanted to document and articulate my own personal exploration of a character.
Twenty Two years later, I still write in the same journal. It has evolved into more than a record for acting, I use it to write about everything I’m working on, including theater, film, new media and friends, family and my personal life.
But why articulate the process at all? What’s the point? At first it was nothing more than writing down the system. I wanted to write about what was effective in the process of creating original work. Like writing down the instructions on how to play the game. However, write about the work quickly became part of the game. Writing about the process was like talking to myself about what I was trying to create. At first it was a way to document the process, but then it actually became the process. Which simply means, writing in my journal has become one of my many tools to create work. It has become a daily routine and fundamental practice. And after 20 plus years of working this way, I'm convinced it is as essential as the canvas is to the painter.
However, there are other ways to articulate the process of creating work. For example, I might shoot photos of flowers to create a theme for a series of ceramic pots. Or if I’m writing a film that takes place in the distant future, I might paint landscapes to see how my imagination could envision that future. I might make a collage or photos to inform a character I'm going to play. This process is about using other mediums of art in order to find a way into the piece you are creating. This is a form of articulation, you're just using a different language.
Of course, what worked before may not work again so the key to an effective process is to allow it to evolve and change over time. You have to be flexible. You might work with people who don’t work the same way you do. Instead of complaining about it, see it as an opportunity for growth. Rather than trying to get them to change it’s so much more rewarding to change yourself. It’s like having the ability to speak several different languages. That is the power of evolving your process.
As the saying goes, “You create the process and the process creates the work." It's a simply, straight forward approach to creating work. If you want to write a feature film, it might seem overwhelming at first glance. However, if you decide that your process will be to go to a specific location, like a coffee shop and spend two hours every day writing, you will eventually have a script. That commitment to setting aside time to write, is the process. And that is true for just about any artistic endeavor you decide to embark upon.
You create the process, the process creates the work.