Sunday, December 6, 2015

DO WE LOSE OUR CREATIVE EDGE AS WE AGE?


On one of the Online community sites dedicated to Screenwriting, one of the members asked why it's so tough for a person over 50-years-old to make it as a screenwriter?
The responses all focused on the system that produces movies and stacks the deck against anyone born prior to 1971.
And I don’t necessarily disagree with the points made by those who responded.
But I wanted my answer to go in a different direction, focusing on what a Professional Screenwriter can control.

Stay HungryDon’t Lose your Edge.
Two versions of the same inspirational philosophy that is often evoked to encourage atheletes and artists to dig in as they strive to achieve their best. And I would submit the above is also the key advice for any Professional Screeenwriter who is older and still wants to achieve their greatest work. Here's why --
The Mental default mode for people in general is often times about seeking a Comfort ZoneMental Security
Our species seeks solid footing before we can walk and lasts all the way to when we can no longer walk.
We look to our surroundings; loved ones; food; peers; everything in our life as a source of security and comfort. When we don’t have personal security/comfort, the impact can skew the way we think and behave. More sense of security/comfort, the greater the odds we will mentally reach our fullest potential intellectually, physically, and in our social interactive capabilities. Our creativity is part of that. If we have it, the part of our brain that leads to creativity will fire on all pistons and expand with each new challenge.

But often times when a creative artist reaches the age of 40-50, what has happened, depending on the person’s makeup, the circumstances of their life, and the interventions along the way, is that what was once a driving creative force has become more and more diminished, assimilated by the primary motivation to seek -- comfort and security.  
This creative erosion doesn’t happen overnight; it happens bit by bit.
And yet, there are creative artists who thrive in their 40s and 50s (and beyond), but how?
I believe the key is the gas that often runs the creative engine and moves it forward every day through productive periods.
The gas can be made up of a “negative” ingredients – Anger, Envy, Jealousy, Loss, Despair – energy that is often excised after the creativity is over, only to have it start back up around the time a writer begins his next project. I know that this assessment might be unpleasant to consider, but I do believe it’s true. “Taxi Driver” was written in a very dark period of Paul Schrader’s life / early part of his career. 
And “Donnie Darko” is a script by Richard Kelly about his main character, a young man, seeking the meaning and significance 
behind his troubling Doomsday-related visions.
 
As we get older, it often becomes true that we lose that negative energy, and/or have no desire to harness and channel it into our creativity. As individuals we want to grow, release ourselves from that energy, but when we do that, what happens is that we may end up being better people on a personal level, but we lose something vital creatively.
This is the enemy - what might be secure and comforting to you, often winds up leading to boring work.
I could be wrong.
And I hope I am wrong.
But I’m ready to fight anyone who disagrees.