I didn’t think this would be as severe. I saw it as a scary movie on TV and I wanted to reach for the remote. Life may be different after this. But as we cling to normalcy, behind closed doors, as we cradle our children and bite our lips before the reality before us, I want to share a thought. Just a little one. I want to send a message to you if you’re struggling, if you have lost your job, or are concerned about the health of your loved ones or your own. The unknown is coming, and its speed will wreak havoc on our society and our psyche. I urge you to breathe deeply and look skyward, where there is room for our troubles. I ask you to tightly hold your loved ones, as you would any other day. In this hopeless hour, I send my love, and deepest belief in your resilience, your grit, and the good in your heart. This is our finest hour. Together. Emboldened. Driven by love.-j
- Reach out to your loved ones. I’ve been calling my Mom and Dad pretty regularly. They are in Mexico and it causes me great anxiety to think this virus may affect them and I am a thousand miles away, unable to help. I want to listen to them, hear their stories, their advice, and I want their laughter close to me. Hold on to your loved ones and draw strength from them and for them. I hold my son close and we all must relish the act of keeping them busy, keep them learning, and keep them active. It’s a lot to do, but there is good in it. Madd and I recorded the latest Our Kid’s Asleep because we were overdue, and we also needed to voice our opinions on the Corona Virus. It’s healthy to talk about fear. Talk about the good as much as the fear. Laugh as much as you need to.
- Reach for your art. I am playing the keyboard in the basement even though it’s cold down there. It is a great comfort to play old songs and come up with new ones. I am emboldened by it and it makes me feel alive even though we can’t go out right now. I’m writing lyrics in an effort to distract myself from the daily onslaught of horrible news. I’m collaborating with a musician I met on Reddit and I want to wrap up some story lyrics in the next few days. I’m less afraid knowing there is creative progress with every letter I etch on my notebooks.
- Reach out to your people. Advocate for those you care about. Pick up the phone, send a text, message your great motivators. Lift them up and let them do the same for you. Be inspired by your friends and creative folk who are beacons of joy, empathy and contemplation in hard times. Support your artists and those who have a positive message to share.
- Stay informed, but don’t drown in it. As of late, and as an addict of attention, information, and understanding, I refresh Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram in the worst way. Now is not the time to pay your tithe of FOMO to your cellphone. Listen to the news, just don’t overdo it. Your sanity depends on it.
More to come. Much love and stay safe, friends.
- You can always adjust. The whole house came down with a cold and we’ve spent most of our time sleeping. Today I’m finally feeling like myself, but it feels as if I postponed a lot in the last week. I have three podcast episodes of Creative Drive in the can, just never got the chance to upload. Madd and I didn’t podcast this last week, so we’ll try again in the coming days. Still chipping at the second part of my mockumentary script but getting tired of it. It sucks, the time-frame is all off and we’ve technically lost two weeks of consistent content, but it’s not the end of the world. As long as the family gets healthier in the next day or so, we will be back up to speed. Adapting is the name of the game.
- Sometimes the little things are monumental for the self. Started the idea notebook now that I got my Lochby Field Journal! This thing is gorgeous and I’m super excited I get to invest in myself and my work. My first entry went in today. Starting with five observations, ideas, or “seeds” to be used on a story down the road. Feeling good today.
- It’s hard to narrow down your purpose. Your mission. The time comes when you eventually have to make a choice. I have a couple of creatives interested in my idea of doing a podcast for working class creatives. I want to go on a mission to extrapolate the strategies and habits of working class creatives to communicate the good that creativity can bring to anyone and everyone, not just the creatives doing it for a living. I’ve tip-toed around this mission for a while now. It’s very important to me, but suddenly it feels as if I’m too afraid to let go of the things that aren’t serving my creative and community purpose. I want to bring awareness to the arts and remove the stigma that the arts are only for an elite few, or the classically trained, or the ones in the big cities. Art belongs to everyone. I may have to let go of some commitments to make this a reality.
- Also, who doesn’t love to experiment with more podcast gear??? Here’s a post from my wonderful time this weekend helping our good friend Jess setup her next podcasting endeavor. So much fun!
At the beginning of the week, I worked like hell to finish the new outlines of what I have been calling, “The Mountain Mystery.” This thing has many moving parts, but I whittled it down over the last month or so to a small, intimate set of scenes that can be produced on a shoestring or nothing at all. This is part 1 of 2 and I am trying to get part 2 done this weekend.
I can’t wait to do this. It’s been a challenge, and I’ve grown to hate this cluster of characters and ideas. But goddamn, it would be so much fun to produce this! I better get going on the second half so I can bring some creatives together for it!
Plenty of forward motion this week, just have to keep the momentum going.
Reminders about self-help and productivity from a creative with a day job.
A few reminders and strategies for myself this week:
- Write Down 10 Ideas a Day. I love this exercise I heard about on the School of Greatness podcast, in an interview with James Altucher. LEt them be shitty ideas or inklings or intuitions. Let’s train the brain to be comfortable in the mindset of generating dots to connect later. It’s all about building muscle memory for the creative brain.
- It’s time to care about the right things, and give. I want to put together a creativity workshop in town, but I’ve been fearful of the commitment. Nothing else is stopping me but my own insecurity over what I have to offer and what I can say. I get tired of looking inward to see what’s wrong. In reality, helping others is one thing that can heal what’s going on inside. I am committed to this mission already, so why not continue?
- Find collaborators. It’s easy. I connected with a musician on Reddit and shared some lyrics. This is the beginning of a new habit of mine:
- Scribe Lunch Crunch – I wrote song lyrics on my lunch. I’ve been so short on time this week that I made a choice to actually finish something. So I set a strict deadline: I had 30 minutes to write a cohesive set of lyrics. I recorded audio of this quick writing session so that I could listen in on the process. I want to get better at articulating what I am doing. I want to get better at explaining my creative process. May become a regular thing! Point being: Walk the talk. There is enough time in the day to do so.
- Nourishment. I picked up Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. I cannot believe I have not read this. Growing up, I loved Ray Bradbury’s approachable nature in all of his work. I’m going back to my old heroes a little bit. That’s fine too.
- Rest is good. I don’t want to do anything for a day or so. This week has been one of productivity, but I will choose to make time for my family now.
As always, make art, make haste.
Daily lessons in self-help and productivity from a creative with a day job.
- It’s true that the best way to help yourself is to help others. I have phases where I obsess over maintaining procedures for personal growth until I get burned out. While it’s always on my mind, I force myself to look outward, stop being afraid, and try lending a hand to others. I talked to my Mom today and I shared a few things I had been picking up on self care and changing your mindset. She valued that information and said she would try it. It made me so happy to know I was reaching out and offering some value to a person I love so much. It made for a day full of optimism, because I shared and communicated. This is what it’s all about.
- Al Stewart is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. A magician binding music and story into transcendent levels. We must pay attention to the practitioners before us and then we’ll see the alchemy in effect.
- I pushed myself to the limit yesterday, but every now and then, that is what we have to do to make progress. I stayed up until 2 am to finish a major chunk of the script I’ve been avoiding for months. I hope to finish the second half in the next day or so. Giving up sleep is a trade off I often can’t afford, but last night, it was worth it. I proved to myself I could commit to a deadline. I marked it off my list, and now I am compelled to get the rest of the week taken care of.
- Reach out and find your people. Those who believe in you and want you to succeed. We artists need to find each other and lift one another up. There’s enough of us out there. Make art, make haste.
A Productivity Exercise for a Working Class Creative.
When I stop writing blog posts, I’m at home ignoring the internet, being a father and husband, as well as watching Schitt’s Creek. Since my last post, I’ve ruminated on the following. Life can have compartments, but they’re stitched onto the same satchel. A satchel I can still load up with all of my favorite priorities and motivations. After all this time of people telling me this, I have concluded for myself that organizing and compartmentalizing are two different things. Most of my life, I have prevented different areas of my life from touching in order to prevent cross-contamination. This is such a childish, desperate argument to keep track of life. Nothing works better than bits of your life clashing into one another like a personalized hadron collider of feelings, tasks, and all other life happenings. Each part of your life strengthens the other. That is what I am after, and what I want to achieve. I’ve solidified my theory that life can be broken into four manageable areas of focus: The Self, The Emotional Home, The Nuts and Bolts House, and Community.
- Self. If I want to do something that will keep me physically healthy, emotionally strengthened, creatively or intellectually fulfilled: This is where it’s going to go.
- Home. The emotional well-being of the relationships in my life, from my wife and son, to the rest of my family, friends and loved ones. This means commitments, following up, being attentive, and present. Always be present.
- House. A house with walls and a roof is a practical thing. I imagine that any task or responsibility to keep the house intact is more of a nuts and bolts endeavor. To keep the house going, we gotta pay bills, do chores, schedule appointments, and probably plan for the future, if possible. The adult shit.
- Community. Showing up and reaching out for the causes and things that make your community better. Volunteering, sharing, and giving, are proof that things are going well, and it’s a natural extension of all the other shit going well.
Made sense to me. I drew up a new spread reflecting these ideas and it turned out to be just four checklists alongside my usual spread. It worked surprisingly well last week, and yesterday, I noticed I could clearly see where the imbalances were occurring, and what areas I needed to invest time and effort into. Will report again this coming week on this system of productivity. Wish me luck!
What do I want to do this week? Aside from husband/father duty:
- Get the script draft done tonight.
- Publish Creative Drive Episodes (backlog from last week).
- Our Kid’s Asleep Episode coming soon feat. a friend!
- The goddamn cat boxes.
- Put the phone down.
Looks like a plan. To be a working class creative is a give and take. More to come. Much love,