Today, I'm here as promised to share one of the main things that I've carried with me from the Ken Burns Q&A that I attended at the US embassy in London a few weeks ago. Well first of all, let me just say, it was an incredible experience and I'm so grateful that I was able to attend the event. It was quite the experience to get the chance to hear such a great filmmaker discuss his work in such an intimate environment. We watched excerpts from his PBS series The Roosevelts and then the actor Stanley Tucci conducted a Q&A session with Ken Burns about the series and his work. You can read my post about that here.
I loved the whole evening, but what I truly took to heart were Ken Burns' words about his creative process in making his films. He spoke about how long it takes to complete one of his documentaries. The truth is that they can take years to complete from start to finish and they are usually about big subjects. Before I heard him speak, I had thought about his many documentaries and how detailed and thorough they are, I couldn't help but think about how daunting it must have been to get started on such huge projects. That hugeness is enough to stop many of us in our tracks before we even get started. I often think of the things that I want to write or am in the process of writing and sometimes I'm wondering if I have it in me to get it all written out.
Here's the thing though. Ken Burns said something very simple that interestingly enough was similar to something that I had read somewhere a few days before. I call it the little by little thing. When he said that this is how he shows up to do his work it was a co-sign in a way to what I'd recently read. Mr. Burns said that he doesn't worry about the work. He just gets up every morning and puts his pants on one leg at a time and shows up to do the work day by day. He doesn't make himself crazy worrying about brilliant inspiration striking like a lightning bolt because it doesn't happen like that. He said that the moments of brilliance can come in the most normal moments. The day to day showing up to do the work is how the "magic" of creativity is born.
On some level, I understood this already. As I write my book, the thing to do is to sit down and just write. The words will come and the story will unfold as it is supposed to and I'm not going be scared into thinking that the things that I want to write about are out of my reach. They are my stories so I'm going to write them in the way that I know how. If some brilliant plot twist comes to me, that's great, but if not, I think that I'll still be able to tell a good story :-)
It was a pleasure to be in the presence of such a creative man like Ken Burns and seeing him at this point in my life was just the inspiration I needed in order to soldier on.
I'm no great advice giver, but if I can offer any advice to anyone as they pursue their dreams I'd simply say....keep swimming...keep going day by day! That's what I'm gonna do! :-)