Since I was a teenager, I dabbled in all sorts of creative outlets, from drawing cartoons and an intended comic book, to writing scripts, acting, producing stage and video, writing and performing music…you name it, I pretty much gave it a try at some point.
Over the course of my history, I have created hundreds of works in whatever medium and they have not always seen daylight. Most of them have been shoved in a drawer or filing cabinet somewhere only for me to dig out when I’m spring cleaning and decide if I need it or not.
Last year, when I was developing my first musical Dadly Intentions, I was starting its process by writing a handful of titles for possible musical numbers. I figured it would help me with the conceiving my storyline for the show. As I did so, I was reminded by a friend of a song I wrote and recorded almost 20 years ago. I called it “Just to Have a Dream,” and the lyrics were about a struggling filmmaker who was in desperate need of focus so he could complete anything creative.
I had completely forgotten about this song, even though I had written several since and even recorded an album, which this song did not appear. However, I dug the song lyrics out and read them over and instantly I realized it would be perfect for the First Act breakout song to my new musical. I revamped the lyrics slightly and gave it a new context in its staging and tah-dah, musical number one was completed for my new work. I hadn’t written a scene yet, but now I knew from where my main character was by the third scene of the show.
The point to this is that anything you have done or plan to do is worth saving. Even if you don’t show it to anyone, and it’s not coming together the way you had artistically hoped. Keep it. You may have a different outlet down the road which may be a perfect fit for it.
Even the title of the musical came from a previous creative endeavor. While I was neck deep in being a dad to 1-2 year old twins and a daughter two years older then them, I found myself having struggles which I figured I’d start a blog about to see if any other dad’s out there were experiencing similar things. I also wanted to give mom’s a perspective on what the fathers of their children may be going through in their minds during this journey, allowing them to maybe help stay connected.
I think I wrote one blog, and after two years and no follow up, I shut down the site. However, I always thought the title was cute, Dadly Intentions. Obviously this is a play on words from Deadly Intentions, which sounds like some sort of high-budget Hollywood thriller staring Idris Elba. But Dadly Intentions I thought was cute and memorable, thus when I had the idea for my musical, I knew this title was a perfect fit. And if you get a chance to read my manuscript for it, I’m certain you’d find the title equally fitting as I do.
As far as keeping creative ideas in a cabinet somewhere, I’ve always done this. I have a couple of files in my cabinet specifically filled with movie and play ideas I thought of while in college. Among them was movie idea about a film producer who is in desperate need of finding funding for his latest independent project, so to acquire a name director to the script, he hits up an old mentor who is now in a wheelchair…and now blind. I thought the idea of a blind movie director was intriguing and possibly hilarious.
However, that’s where I got stuck. I could develop it enough to decide if I wanted it to be a heavy drama or a situational comedy. Some years later, even though I kept the idea printed out on a piece of paper and in this file, Woody Allen wrote and directed a movie called Hollywood Ending, in which his character comes down with a case of hysterical blindness while in the middle of directing a big-budget Hollywood feature which could revive his stagnant career. The movie was hilarious, and I truly felt any idea I fleshed out of my own would only live in the shadow of Woody Allen’s work. So, that killed that. But I still have the paper with that idea sitting in my file. It will never be a full fledged movie, but maybe among those notes there’s a character a can pull from it and use in a different movie or stage script idea.
You never know what your creativity is going to do for you, from you or with you from year to year, so if you create anything, whether it’s a song or a one-paragraph movie idea that will never be fleshed out, hang on to it. It’s still a part of you and could end up being a part of something bigger and better down the road.