The Lay of the Creative Landscape


How do I write a book? How do I make a video game? How do I make a comic book? 

I hear this question from people I meet, over and over again.  

The answer to this question will not please a lot of people, I'm afraid. This is not some pithy article on ten steps to finish your novel, or a click through tutorial on Javascript gaming, this is the truth.  

How do you create X?  They ask. They are usually young and are honestly looking for some secret sauce. Some way to jump ahead. 

Now, I say.  You create now. 

Now is the time to create.
There has never been a time like this before. I know this because I come from the before. If you think it's hard to create now, try creating in 1992.

When I left college, the Macintosh SE/30 represented the height of graphic design on computers and a blur effect in Photoshop took two hours. Books were laid out in arcane processes that sometimes took months and covers were photographed and color separated by hand. I know, because I did it. I learned how to do this. Right before it was useless. I learned other things that would soon be replaced as well. 
Oil painting took days or weeks, and dried in months (sometimes years). You messed up an ink drawing, and you started again. You smeared something in a way you couldn't cover up, you started again. You basically spent a third of your time starting again. A third of your time trying to get whatever you created into shape to be published, and a third of your time creating it. So much  time was wasted.
Today, that's all different. It's different for art, for book creation, for film, for music, for video games. Computers have swept in and removed the first two thirds of the creative grind. Creating a book is no longer a herculean process (though it does require more art and design). Editing a film no longer requires scissors and tens of thousands of dollars. Art is as good as the number of Undos you can activate in a program.   

Nearly anything you wish to create, you can create. You can create it alone, and without (too much) money, and you can change the world. That's a fact. If you want to argue it, guess what, you're making excuses. 
It is infinitely easier to create nearly anything today than it was just twenty years ago. There is no way to deny this. 

The costs have dwindled to the point where a $7,000 film wins the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, where albums mixed on Garageband hit the top ten, where art made with a Wacom tablet leads to a big-budget movie and video games turn up on a billion phones and tablets from someone without a publisher (or hell, without a job).
This ease of creation does not mean you will create great art. But it means the barrier of entry is now only this: your skill.

So, when I am asked how do you create X?, I think to myself how could you not?  What the hell are you waiting for?