No filter, no filler

I’m a big believer in Ray Bradbury’s assertion: “self-consciousness is the enemy of all art.” He’s saying that expression is inhibited by self-consciousness. That playing to the audience poisons the power of your performance. Of course, what you do is informed and subtly influenced by the audience. But if you think about it, the most powerful art is a result of the artist’s vision, not a consequence of the audience’s demands.

In the act of creation, thinking of your audience, being self-conscious, stops the flow. To create consistently, you must release both the good and the bad, the potentially mind-blowing and the possibly awful. For the good to come, the bad must be allowed to pass. 

I’ve come to think of this initial stage of the creative process as one that must happen with no filter. That is, you must release everything and express all without checking for quality or suitability. That’s the first stage. 

The second stage is where you edit. Where you cut, revise, rework, question, expand and add. This is where you apply your chosen filters. Where you measure everything against your intended purpose and required standards, and cut what doesn’t align with and surpass them. 

A simple way to imagine this process is as follows:

1. No filter.
2. No filler.

You can work through this cycle ad infinitum. But the point is that you go from suspending your standards and expectations, to ruthlessly applying them. And you do it over and over and over again until the work is good enough.

That’s the creative process: No filter. No filler. No filter. No filler. No filter. No filler. Ship.