November 22

In his books about the creative process, author Steven Pressfield shares an ethic that is common among screenwriters in Hollywood: “One for the studio, one for me.”

“One for the studio” means that in order to do your job, you need to do work – in this case, write screenplays – that match the expectations of the people paying the bills, and not worry so much about whether it satisfies you creatively. This might mean cranking out a summer action sci-fi script that hits all of the expected marks for such a movie.

However, “one for me” means that you also need to have some creative work in process that satisfies you creatively and may be on the less practical side commercially. This might be a side project, or something on the backburner that you’re working on as a way to grow your skills and take creative risks, or to express yourself in ways that your “on demand” work won’t allow.

When you slip toward “six for the studio, one for me” approach, it’s easy to begin to lose your heart and creative drive. It feels like you are cranking widgets to match everyone else’s specs, but aren’t able to scratch your own creative itch.

Adopt the “one for the studio, one for me” approach to ensure that you are keeping your creative fires stoked.

Question: Are you too lopsided in how you are leveraging your creativity at the moment? Do you need to develop a personal project to help you keep the embers burning?

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