For this installment of "Interview with an Artist", I interviewed Greg White, a good friend and a writer with a pretty impressive resume, including being nominated for an Emmy!
By seeing his often absurd work on Comedy Central, MTV, and Netflix's Puss In Boots, you may not guess that Greg is so wise, thoughtful, and grounded. Greg's approach to writing is steady practice of "just showing up", which I think can be applied to most areas of life. He spoke of managing creative pressures, building structure for writing, and he even shares some insight into finding fulfillment and not attaching to identity. Enjoy!
- You're an artist. What kind of art do you do?
- I am a writer. Specifically, I write for television and film in Los Angeles. I've written for Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, Disney among others, and developed shows with MTV, FX, and Conaco. I was nominated for an Emmy and lost while wearing a rented tuxedo.
- It's not uncommon for creative types to struggle with mental health issues. What do you see as the interplay between mental health and creativity?
- Something I see a lot in other writers is anxiety. Our career is a very uncertain one, with the potential for big swings in success, and/or long gaps between jobs. The people who can acknowledge that there are things beyond your control, and that all that matters is controlling what you can (i.e., the quality of your work day to day) are the ones who have the best attitudes in their lives and careers. I personally like this element of my job in that it reminds me daily that nothing is certain, and making good friends with the unknown is only going to serve me well in life. As for the role of mental health in creativity, perhaps manic states fuel some artists, but I prefer to be very slow and steady in my work. 1 or 2 hours a day of writing is often all I allow myself.
- You can't possibly feel creative all the time. What do you do to foster creativity and practice your craft even when you're not feeling it? Any tricks you've picked up to help you get out of your own way?
- I will refer to Chuck Close, who once said, "Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up." I think if you are a person with a creative career, you must develop a systems approach to productivity. Identify the goal, break it down into small chunks, and chip away at it day to day. In other words, amateurs have the benefit of waiting for the muse, but professionals do not. Certainly, finding the joy in your work is key. I don't start writing something unless I know why I love it, even if it's something not of my own creation (as in freelance scenarios). You find your way in somehow, and for me it is finding the one funny thing that I want to play around with. In the absence of that, why do it anyway?
- If you could suggest one thing for my readers to do to help them live their best life, what would that be?
- Filling my life and work with a larger meaning and purpose has been crucial to my happiness. I see my life and everything in it as one big process of discovery, and by approaching everything with this attitude, I seem to thrive. And for the love of God, get outside and move your body. Hike, run, stroll, walk the dog, get your hands dirty, pick up a heavy object, sprint up a hill. We are not meant to live in our heads. They are way too cramped. Further, do not identify yourself by any one thing. I love writing, but I do not identify myself by way of my professional endeavors. I love running, but do not identify myself by my race success. Be comfortable being about many things.