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.
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.
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,
Any writer worth a damn knows discipline lies at the core of a solid, fulfilling writing life. I learned this one the hard way.
In college, we had a guest artist teach a few classes in my junior year. It was nice for a theater department in the middle of nowhere to bring professionals for us to get to know more about the craft, since it took a while for the trends to make their way to Wyoming. This individual brought an intense east coast attitude; a straightforwardness I wasn’t used to, and I struggled with it throughout his entire class. I was raised in a small town, I didn’t know how to deal with that level of directness. From the get-go, I thought he was out to get me. Don’t get me wrong, his criticisms in acting class were never out of line. This professor was not a villain, but I saw him as one back then. When I was a kid, I thought anyone asking me to challenge myself was asking me to compromise who I was. I misunderstood often, so I didn’t listen when I should have been. As you can guess, I didn’t do very well in his class. I went to see him at his office and long-story short, he asked me what I wanted to do with my writing, which has always been my primary creative focus. He wanted to know the end goal I had in mind. I told him I wanted to write movies. That’s when he said “I don’t think that’s going to work out for you. Movies and TV, with all their deadlines, that’s not what you’re cut out for. You need time, you need to keep writing plays.”
I didn’t know how to deal with that honesty, so I took it as an attack. Clenching my teeth I left his office and bitched for hours in my head. How dare he pigeonhole me? How dare he know what I can and can’t do? Fuck that guy. I got so offended I forgot to listen to what he was telling me: All those hours in class for an entire semester, and I never showed him what I could do. He could see I was a talented guy. In class he would compliment my performances and my directing instincts, but I was always unprepared, half-assing my assignments, jumping from one distraction to the next. In that office, he wasn’t limiting my prospects or pigeonholing me: He was daring me to do better. To take it to the next level. He saw talent without discipline.
I have never developed my discipline because I relied so heavily on my talent that I didn’t develop the other half of the equation. In the end, it’s hard to be incomplete.
I am playing catch-up. And it’s a beautiful thing.
It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.
Status report. Health stuff. And what happens after you prioritize.
After several weeks of bullet journaling, I am seeing some changes for the better. But here’s the question: Can I use my ten-minute breaks to get my creative fill for the day? I’ve been working on that this week! Also, here’s the dilemma: Is it possible to be rewarded by the short term if the long term is lacking? Can a short term strategy help consolidate and focus your creativity toward the things that matter?
If you’re a creative with a dayjob, come see if this can work for you!