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.
Mateo: Clouds are often magical. I didn’t think I would get there. It’s been 27 years and the spring stuck around a lot longer than we both thought. I saw these clouds lead me to that special place, by pointing at the ground with the shadows, much like an indecisive index finger. These mountains kept me locked in, but I still searched diligently, in the places that I knew and remembered. There was a tree nearby. In the 50 mile radius, there was a patchy cottonwood tree next to a once boisterous creek and I recall we carved our names on it. I was going to meet you there on the 2nd of March, in 1961. I made 30 cents an hour and didn’t know your last name. I found out later it was Henley. And I couldn’t pronounce it. Braceros had to make their way back home after the season came to an end, but I knew I had nothing to return to. Everything I needed was here, waiting by this tree. So why did I not meet you? Why did I leave you there to wait? Did you wait for minutes? Hours? Days? I hope your love has not fermented into hatred for me. I hope the only thing that faded has been the grief, and not the spark in your eye. If the tree still stands, I will find it. If our markings have weathered like a monument on bark, I will find them. It’s taken me 27 years to realize all of it is fleeing. All is fleeting. All of it. Except you.