Inspiring Read About the Creative Process

THIS article totally lit a fire under my butt! In the immediate aftermath of reading it, I completed almost six hours of work on my film's rough animatic, more than I'd done in the last two weeks.

Pen Densham—writer of "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and writer/director of "Moll Flanders," among other accomplishments—describes how he gets past the self-doubt to allow the creative process to flow. Some highlights:

• Ignore advice that interferes with your natural process. What works for one may not work for another.

• Find your own "music": create from who YOU are instead of trying to be someone else.

• Recognize that the creative process is not a straight line; it often takes diversions to get to the final place you've envisioned.

• "Try to see your writing [creating] as adventure, imaginary play. Surrender to your instincts. The ideas will flow more easily." In other words, you can't force creativity and ideas.

• Don't worry about being totally original. There are only about seven plots from which all other stories are derived. "Creativity reinvents the world."

• Ignore your doubts, the internal critic.

Densham quotes copywriter Andrew Cavanagh's terrific advice about dealing with writer's block, advice that can be applied to any creative process.

These articles really spoke to me because I regularly allow too much self-doubt to creep into my brain. It's those doubts that push me away from my computer or drawing table to other activities like watching endless amounts of tv and movies, anything but creating. Too often I think that I'm going too slowly with my project or not doing one of the steps correctly…or something. What I'm slowly beginning to understand and internalize is that there's rarely one right way to be creative. Whatever process works for me is the process I should follow. There's always room for more efficiency but aside from that, I'm sticking to what WORKS.

More importantly, I'm training my brain to not care if "others" don't understand why my project is "taking so long." Every person who feels that way is NOT a creative person. They're not making something out of nothing, I AM! How would a non-animator possibly know how long it "should" take to make an animated film?! C'mon, man!! I tell them how long it takes, NOT the other way around!

Let's keep going!


  1. Hi -

    I am so glad you found the chapter from my book, on the Writer's Store site, helpful. Seeing you echoing these thoughts back touched me. I so much want to make the creative struggle collegial, yet permissively individual.

    My goal was to try and inspire dialogue about creativity that is not dogmatic. I left school at 15 and suffered through immense self doubt on my way through life. But, I also learned some methods as a filmmaker that eased the process and helped me appreciate the rewards amongst the rejections.

    The book "Riding the Alligator" was officially launched this week, and is available from the Writer's Store. The owner, Jesse is the person who went out of his way to introduce me to the publishers. I have tried to put together a write friendly web site at -

    My warmest encouragement for your explorations in the New Year.

    Pen Densham

    Please excuse me for posting as Anon - despite years of Mac use I couldn't figure out how to put this note up otherwise.

  2. Thanks, Pen, for your comments. The excerpt from your book was a real find and I thought it was important to pass it on. I see that you also have a lot of information at your site. If you don't mind, I may reference some of that material on this blog, too.

    Thanks again for you encouragement and best of luck to you this year.