They say you’re never too old to chase your dreams, but when I sat down with Tina Andrews, 20 year veteran in the entertainment industry who has written, produced and directed film, television and plays… she starred at me like I better hurry the hell up.
I tell her about my fantasy life as a romance novelist and professor, which I’ll get to eventually.
“How long have you been saying ‘eventually’?” Tina Andrew’s asks me across the screen with a smirk.
She had me.
Often, many of us have a dream that’s sitting on the shelf of our brains waiting for the perfect moment. Andrews is a master of creativity, and has developed many processes to keep us from lingering in the dark with our gifts.
You may know her as the playwright, screenwriter and inspiration she is, he executive produced and wrote the screenplays for the award-winning CBS miniseries: “Sally Hemings, An American Scandal”; the CBS miniseries, “Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,” and the Warner Brothers motion picture: “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?”; wrote, produced and directed the Showtime Networks animated series, “Sistas ‘N The City”; just to name a few. But one thing SHE didn’t know until we sat down is that she is sort of developing her own “Artist’s Way”.
Armed with Tina’s insights, I came up with this five-step guide to laying the foundation for creative clarity and allowing inspiration to take root organically. This process includes advice on refocusing your creative thought process, as well as how to see the big-picture when it comes to creating your best work.
Let’s start breaking down ‘eventually’, shall we?
Step #1: Let it flow
Andrews’ creative process starts with what she calls “Go with God,” where trusting the free flow of ideas leads her down the path towards the gems that end up on the page. As writers, we have the opportunity to become conduits for our craft and allow that ethereal energy to reveal the purpose and medium of our creativity.
Sometimes that takes time. In today’s world, we want so badly to put something — anything– out in five minutes flat, but creativity doesn’t always work the way we want it to. So prepare to be inspired by allowing yourself to accept everything that a peaceful mind has to offer.
Sure, it may not be perfect yet. But writing it down and getting the ideas out means you now have a foundation to start from.
Step #2: Start broad
An outline is exactly that: the general idea of your project’s bones. In life as well as in our writing, we can get stuck on the finer details of our concepts before we’ve even managed to paint the broad strokes of our outline.
Andrews advises us to start with a general plan and then narrow it down, not the other way around. Your material wants to become what it is destined to be, so put pen to paper and start scribbling yourself a rough draft.
Each day, make those broad strokes a little more focused until eventually you’ll have written your project into existence.
Step #3: Loosen your grip
Let’s take a second to step back. Remove yourself from the project that’s just too difficult to finish right now. For Andrews, stepping back means pivoting to one of her many other projects (she is great at not putting financial pressure on new adventures) and giving inspiration a chance to strike organically, but stepping back can mean a soothing bath, a moment of meditation, or even just listening to some music.
Giving yourself a breather is a great way to refocus your brain and allow serendipity to strike, whether that’s in your writing or any other aspect of your life. Staring at the door until you’re cross-eyed doesn’t leave room for inspiration, so pivot your focus and leave some room for the magic.
Step #4: Pivot your focus
Learning to block out distractions is key in the creative process, but Andrews reminds us that being hyper focused on our work can be just as detrimental to the finished product. To avoid burning out our creative spark, she recommends stepping back and pivoting from one project to another to give your ideas their own space.
“Sometimes the best writing is when you go away and do no writing,” Andrews says. When you find yourself manufacturing energy, it’s time to step back and let your unconscious mind do its thing for a while.
Step #5: See It Being Completed
Tina recommends taking 180 blank pages and putting them on your desk to “see” your finished book.
In her life, she has to write 3 pages a day, NO MATTER WHAT. This is how she says “treat yourself like a puppy” works, and she can’t have sushi, or go play with her friends until she’s done her work.
Maybe we should all take a note or two on Tina’s creative process, because the results speak for themselves. As an experienced novelist, playwright, producer, and screenwriter, Tina Andrews is proving to the world that she can, once again, astound and delight us all with an upcoming HBO adaptation of her novel, Charlotte Sophia: Myth, Madness and the Moor. While there’s yet to be an official release date, Andrews encourages us to read or listen to her novel in anticipation of what is yet to come.
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