One of my favourite ways to stay inspired is to read about how other people put their creativity into practice and learn to live creative lives. Every so often, I’ll be interviewing someone who is letting their creative light shine. Hopefully, these folks will inspire you as much as they inspire me.
I first heard of Andrea when a friend told me she gave the BEST social media advice and since then I've run into her in a few places online and we took at least one of Andrea Yacyshyn's belly dance classes together. I'm inspired by her flair for storytelling and her passion for local, female-run business - if you're in Edmonton you have to listen to the That's So Maven Podcast.
What sort of creative work do you do?
I'm a writer and filmmaker, and photographer.
Have you always thought of yourself as a creative person? Why or why not?
For a long time, I honestly never even thought about it. I have always been creative, but I never stopped and categorized myself as such. I've just always pursued what I love. I can think of two moments throughout my work life where it became really evident I was the "creative" in the room. The first was when I spent two years working with scientists as an admin/editor. It was really interesting to be surrounded by chemists and nanotechnologists who were fascinated by the fact that I could invent stories from my imagination and had the creative power to make those stories exciting and engaging to read. The second was when I was working at an ad agency, because we were separated into the accounting department and the creative department, and I was one of "the creatives." In general, being a creative person isn't something I really think about; it's just something I do and am, through and through, so it's kind of like breathing.
How did you get started?
When I was 6 or 7, my school had a program where they let us write and illustrate a story and then bind it into a book. I held my finished book and knew I was set for life. I wanted to be a storyteller. So that's how I officially started. As I grew up, I continued to explore and create - I got some writing published in university, I started an indie theatre company when I was 19 where I wrote, directed, and produced theatre for almost 7 years, and then I moved into film-making (I write, direct, produce, shoot, and edit) about five years ago.
What’s your process like?
My process depends on the project. For writing, I am very "up in my head" - I'm the type of writer who will seem like I'm doing nothing on a project for months because I'm writing the whole story in my head. Then when it's ready, I put it down on paper in a day or two. So for writing, I definitely need quiet thinking time. Because of my incredibly hectic work schedule, that usually ends up being when I'm doing dishes, or showering, or walking my dogs.
When I'm shooting a film, I like to plan out my shots, but then also follow my gut when I'm on set to see what catches my eye and feels right. I really like exploring different angles and lighting, and playing with how I can tell my story and capture emotion through unique shots. Then when I get into the editing room, my process changes quite a lot. Editing is highly creative, but it's also highly technical, so I like to have time and space to shut myself out from the world and give 350% focus to what I'm doing. Again, because of my schedule and life (there are two dogs jumping on me as I type this!), that usually ends up being at odd times, like late at night when everyone is asleep.
What or who inspires you?
This question is always a hard one for me. It's like asking me, "what do you write about?" or, "what kind of movies do you make?" I'm inspired by life. I write about the human condition. Sometimes that ends up being a comedy, and sometimes it's a horror. To me, genre is really fluid. Stories always happen in different ways. So what inspires them? Sometimes it's something I see or find - like coming across a random SD card on the ground of an empty parkade. Sometimes it's a random thought - like "what would happen if I swallowed this Scrabble tile?" Sometimes it's my family's history, or a moment I've personally gone through. It could be anything, but it's never anything I can seek out. It just happens.
What’s your biggest creative struggle and how are you coping with it?
My biggest creative struggle is making time to work on my personal creative projects while being a full-time freelancer. I have to hustle constantly and work constantly in order to pay my bills and keep new work coming my way. So it's very challenging to set aside time to work on my own "stuff" amidst 80-hour (if not more) work weeks. I don't know that I'm successfully coping with this yet. I blocked off a week in July to edit my last short film, but then I got a big contract with a new client that had to take precedence, so again, I'm in the same boat. Am I angry at myself? Not at all. I'm making a living doing what I love. And tomorrow is a new day. I do the best that I can with the very limited "free" time that I have. Freelancing is feast or famine, so when I have slow work periods, I take very serious advantage of them. And in the meantime, I go on lots of short photo-taking adventures to satisfy my visual eye.
What’s your # 1 tip about everyday creativity?
Be creative every day, but don't put pressure on yourself in terms of output. Being creative doesn't mean you have to have something to show for it. Being a writer my whole life, I've heard the phrase, "to be a writer, you have to write every day" more times than I could ever keep track of. I think it's true, but also, writing doesn't have to mean putting words onto paper. I think it can be more of a thoughtful process. Exploring ideas while you do the dishes or walk to work. Talking yourself through a scene while you chop vegetables for dinner. Playing make believe while you get dressed for the day. We all work in such different ways. So I guess my tip is explore and play in whatever way works for you. And don't ever feel like you have to prove your creativity.
What are you working on next?
I'm in the process of editing a short film, The Disappearing Act (the one inspired by wondering about swallowing Scrabble tiles), and I'm working on a couple different screenplays and exploring funding options to get them made. But creativity is also my "day job," so the real answer to this question is, "all the things."
Where can we find you online?