Director Robert Rodriguez sat down with our own Shira Lazar at the Samsung Blogger Lounge at this year’s South by Southwest festival. He shared some advice on how to live a creative life, advice he has taken to heart over the course of his incredibly successful career.
Rodriguez described how important the book The ONE Thing was for his development as a creative professional. Written by Gary Keller, the book advocates focusing on one thing at a time.
When he first heard of it, Rodriguez says, “That doesn’t apply to me. But I thought about it, and I do one thing: I live a creative life.”
“If you don’t live your life creatively, and then you set aside some time at night to go right your novel you’re going to get a block because you’re not in the flow. But if you apply creativity to everything in your life, everything is available to you.”
He tells a story of making his actors paint on set. Though actors are by nature creatives, they never thought they could be painters as well. “They didn’t think they could paint,” Rodriguez says. “So then I made them paint and they saw that they were able to because when you’re in a creative flow you can do just about anything.”
He takes this mindset to everything he does. Even cooking becomes “art you can eat.”
“There’s no delineation between work and play. It’s all play.”
Rodriguez also tackles one of the biggest impediments to creativity: fear. He recommends another book called Art & Fear.
“If you say, ‘I’m a fraud, they’ll figure me out, I’ll never be able to do it again,’ that’s an artist’s thought process,” Rodriguez says. “If you’re thinking like that you’re on the right track, because they all feel that.”
He also offers perhaps the greatest advice: don’t be afraid of failure. “There’s always some success that can come out of your failures. In fact, probably your biggest successes will come directly from your failures.” He says. “That Winston Churchill quote is my favorite: ‘success is moving from one failure to the next with great enthusiasm.'”
“You’re going to stumble, but you’re also going to stumble upon something no one ever thought of. So you just keep going and keep going. And you’re going to fail and rise up and fail again and that’s the journey. Up and down.”
“I hope all of you fail miserably,” Rodriguez tells the crowd. He means it in the best possible way.