17/06/2016 12:43 BST | Updated 17/06/2017 06:12 BST

How to Be Creative

"Getting in" seems to be what everyone is trying to do. "Becoming" an actor/writer/director/architect. We perpetuate the myth that the people doing it are somehow different to the people who want to do it. There are people on the inside and people on the outside. This might have been true 25 years ago, when a union card was the one guarantee of acceptance. I remember long rainy nights downstairs in the Intrepid Fox in Wardour Street, waiting while the Assistant Directors branch of the ACTT met upstairs to see if you would be one of the lucky ones to get a ticket. It took me three years to get mine. Three years as a runner, stopping traffic in the rain, buying fags for the director, and making tea. When I finally got my union card, I still stopped traffic in the rain, but now I was a Third Assistant Director, so I was in. What a con.

We are often asked how to 'get in' to the industry. It's a question we have never questioned. After this year's SohoCreate it's important we do. There is no 'in' and there is no 'out'. Actor Denise Gough talked with Director Jeremy Herrin about her 'Siberia years', the years without work, when she almost stopped being an actress. She didn't. She went on to win an Olivier for her role in Duncan Macmillan's People, Places and Things. Duncan himself has talked about winning the prestigious playwriting Bruntwood prize and then "not a lot happened for two years."


Denise Gough talking with Jeremy Herrin and John Kampfer at SohoCreate 2016

Our challenge is that if our work isn't seen, we don't feel creative. Is a performed play any better than an unperformed play? A film unseen any worse than one seen. Well it might be, but the play is still a play, the film a film, the novel and novel, the song a song, even if it is not witnessed. A creative act has still taken place.

To all those who want to know how to 'get in' I would say, you are already in. Just write, just design, just sing, and keep doing it day in day out for about five years. At some point in those five years, people will accept you as a creative person and pay attention to you. But even if they don't, you are still an artist, and an artist must practice their craft. The best way of doing that is to find people you like, who like you work, and do stuff with them. It's simple.

Don't wait for permission or recognition or acknowledgment or money. Collaboration is the most important function in creativity, practice your craft and practice collaboration and you are an artist, and no one can say you aren't.

Beyond being creative you may want to work in the creative industries, this is a whole different blog.

Hold onto the day job but live for the night.