The Creative Process Is Not All Rainbows And Unicorns

The Creative Process Is Not All Rainbows And Unicorns

A Repeat Performance From A Fan Fave

Today we welcome back Christopher Leone who made an appearance on our podcast almost exactly a year ago to talk about his film (or is it TV series?) Parallels. If you haven’t caught it on Netflix, you’re missing some sci-fi fun.

Funny story… we had just been thinking about Chris, whether there would be another Parallels release and what he was up to these days when like a karmic explosion we got an email from him saying that he was working on a book and would love to talk to us.

Likewise! And thus this conversation was born.

A Creative Maniac

Chris has created a LOT. Parallels, which brought us to him, a TV show called the Lost Room, other short films, a comic book, and now he’s working on a young adult fiction novel about a mysterious black orb… but let’s not do any spoilers.

He does so much that we can’t help but wonder how he does it. He’s got a pretty smart answer, which is that he tries to work on only one thing at a time and keep going until it’s done before he takes on another project. For creatives who can easily find themselves starting and starting and starting… the idea to “finish what you started” is pretty good advice!

Getting started on the creative process is fun. So many ideas! So much potential! It’s easy to fall off and look for the new shiny thing as things start to feel like “work”. But more on that in a minute.

Chris The Storyteller

Chris defines himself as a filmmaker. We define him as a storyteller. Sure, he makes films. But he always tells a story. Sometimes that’s through words, sometimes it’s through visuals and sometimes it’s even through sound. Especially when you’re working in a medium like film, your story really does hinge on all these pieces.

Ultimately, whether you’re telling a brand story or composing a film, you can tell it in different ways through different senses.

We want to know: why is he writing a book, especially a young adult novel, considering his filmmaker identity?

Turns out he’s writing a book for the same reason he made a film – because he has a story to tell! But more importantly, it’s a story he wishes someone had written for him when he was a young adult and craving a good sci-fi read.

And don’t let the genre fool you – it’s easy for grown ups to fall in love with young adult fiction, too. Just think Harry Potter and Hunger Games. That’s exactly the kind of story Chris wants to write and we’re confident that he can (and will!)

And Then There’s Marketing

Right now Chris is using Inkshare, a site where authors can work to get their book project funded through fan pre-orders. Once a book gets a certain number of orders, then it will be able to get published through Inkshare. So that helps mitigate the risk of doing the writing, the editing, the cover design, the printing… and then falling flat on orders.

He’s also participating in a contest hosted by The Nerdist and if he wins his book gets automatically funded. (And if you have a moment, be sure to give him some SuperFred love and up his chances of winning by ordering a copy for your favorite kid – or yourself! Just look for the book called Champions of the Third Planet.)

But it still begs the question: how is he getting the word out?

For starters, he already has a fan base so he’s been able to tap into that. He’s also done a lot of social media promotion. Chris says he isn’t doing anything “the traditional way” and that means he doesn’t have a 10-step plan and a 6-month forecast and secret to success. He tries something… and watches to see what works. And then he does that thing.

Ultimately it’s also about the relationships he’s been building along the way. People he’s reached out to, like us, who he can reconnect with and who are happy to host him. Fans he’s engaged with. If you listen to our podcast often enough, this should all sound very familiar by now!

The Creative Process

For Chris, he doesn’t start with a story in his mind. He usually gets a visual that sparks an idea. “A girl is coming out of the woods.” Not a three-act plot but it’s enough that he starts asking questions. Who is she? Why is she there? What’s she doing?

Chris says something fascinating about his own creative process. He says most of the time, it’s not creative.

What?

Well, it turns out that doing creative work is still work. Sure, it can be fun. Having a great idea is fun. Getting started is fun. But after that? It’s all about sitting down and grinding through, getting it done. Putting the words on a page. Editing, fixing, checking your inconsistencies, editing some more.

There’s this myth about creative people that all this stuff just flows. You hang out in your pajamas, on the beach, fulfilling your deepest passions and living the dream! Artists, musicians, authors… they all just hang out sipping sherry or something and everyone wishes for that life.

But doing creative work is not all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes it’s not fun at all. Sometimes it’s frustrating and head-pounding and boring. Sometimes you hate it and wish you were selling insurance or changing a car tire.

Like most creatives, Chris is a tad perfectionist. We’re often told, “Just write, don’t edit, let it flow then go back later…” Pft. As anyone who has sat down to write knows, you can get hung up on fixing that one weird adjective for… well, a really long time. Chris likes to “get it right” before moving on and sometimes that means getting stuck. But he also says that you have to be aware of when you’re doing something that’s improving your writing and when you’re just changing for the sake of change.

Being creative is tough work!

Everyone Needs An Avatar

Funny enough, Chris has an avatar for his ideal reader, the same way that we talk about having an avatar for your ideal customer. Remember how we said it’s a story he wishes he could have read when he was a kid? Well, his book is a story he’s writing for his ten-year-old self.

Brilliant!

Your Action Item

From Chris: Call your parents. Right now. When you’re done, start your creative project. Life is going by. And unless you start now you might still be standing there in a day or month or five years and you will never have reached out for what you want. So whatever that creative thing is, start it.

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Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn is a content creator and marketer who has been in the business of digital marketing since 1999. Along with her husband and business partner Ralph, she owns and operates both {Web.Search.Social}, a consulting and marketing services business, and Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio. On any given day Carol Lynn will wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. Her true passion is writing, whether it’s web content, a blog post, email campaign or social status update. When she's not writing for customers, {Web.Search.Social}, or her own blog, she's planning her early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • I listened to this in the car a while back and really felt like I needed to come back and comment. Whether intentionally or not, I completely understand why the “industry” is focusing more sci fi towards what you may consider to be geared towards young adults. I personally have never been a sci fi fan. I would turn off anything that I considered to be any form of sci fi. It just wasn’t my thing. I think somewhere, someone figured out that “femming it down” might cross over more towards women. For the longest time, sci fi was generally a guys thing. Those of us from the 80’s era that didn’t get into it young, have had a hard time opening up to it and this has truly given us a way to first accept that we “watched a sci fi movie” and then “read a sci fi book”. It, well to be honest, and you guys, have really opened up my choices and have made me give it a chance.

    • Honestly, I think the whole “women and sci fi” is a cultural deficiency. Women are not supposed to be into thinking things like “science” so anything that isn’t idiotic romcom is way beyond our ability to understand and enjoy. I think we’re taught not to like science and sci fi – boys things. Maybe instead of dumbing it down for us poor ladies, our culture ought to pretend we can have a brain, too. But that’s just me thinking out loud :)

      • I absolutely love science shows. My brain works in a very literal way. I want the FACTS. Prove to me why things work. I guess growing up in the generation of Aliens and Huge Fake Monsters had me believing that Sci Fi was only that. Now, I am learning that there is so much more to it than that. But, a whole lot of that is because of you guys. I didn’t realize until listening that I found the Hunger Games type movies and book more appealing until you guys started mentioning it. Then, I thought, I think they are mixing that romantic edge into a bit of sci fi to draw in young women and women in general. I love the fact that I am learning to open my mind to new things, whatever the cause. Literally, ET was about as Sci Fi as it got for me until you guys came around….