The Two Faces of Creativity – Orson and Ed


People often tell me that they have trouble getting started on a project or they have trouble finishing it. I have come up with a system for working through both problems. This is not based on science or years of research. It’s just something that works for me.

When I go through my creative process, I have noticed two impulses which push against one another. These impulses were completely beyond my control forces of nature. I was their slave. Well one way to control something is to name it.

I named one “Orson Welles” and the other “Ed Wood“. Orson and Ed for short. These are not based too specifically on actual biographical facts about the two directors, but more the spirit they embody.

Orson is quality over quantity oriented and can’t stand to see a finished product that is anything less than perfect. Orson has trouble with process and abandons projects or has them taken away from him before they’re finished. He would rather quit than see anything mediocre come from his efforts.

Ed loves process. In fact, he smiles the whole time he’s working. He hates to do things again. Reshoot a scene? He has already done it. Who cares if the tombstone moved? We got the shot lets move on. Once the product is finished, it’s great! I made it, so it’s great!

I think that most of my trouble with creating comes from trying to balance Orson and Ed. You can’t be 100% either one and be a successful and happy creative person. I used to be far more Orson than Ed, but years of doing improvisational acting has made my Ed side stronger.

Here are some things than I have noticed about them working together. Let Ed write your first drafts. Hide them from Orson if you have to. Orson can approve the initial idea, but let Ed run with it. Orson will be happy to rewrite for you when it comes time to do it.

There always comes a time when it’s finished. Of course, if you leave it up to Orson, it isn’t done until it’s perfect. (Meaning it will never be finished.) Eventually, you have to let Ed take control and release it. It should be easy for Ed, after all, once he’s finished he can start work on the next project. That’s hard if you spend most of your time as an Orson. You have to take the credit and the blame for what you produce.

Don’t try and spend all your time as an Ed or you end up writing crappy self-published horror novels filled with terrible grammar.

Don’t spend all your time as Orson or you’ll never do anything except pat yourself on the back for being a undiscovered genius.

Remember, let Orson listen to feedback, but let Ed read the bad reviews. Life is easier that way.

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