Tag Archives: creativity

Do It Every Day

One of the simplest secrets of what I’ve been able to accomplish so far–which, while not overwhelming, is at least something more than nothing–can be attributed to this paragraph I encountered years ago.

Do it every day.
Want to become a concert pianist? Do it every day.
Want to become a writer? Do it every day.
Want to become depressed? Think of depressing thoughts every day.
Want to become an optimist? Think of cheerful thoughts every day.
Do it every day.
–Robert Anton Wilson

It’s one of those things that’s simple but not necessarily easy.  I’ve kept a copy of that text in various places over the years.  It used to be my home location in my browser, so that I’d see it first thing when I sat down.  For a number of years, it hung on the wall by my work computer, so that I could see it every day and remind myself that my true work never happened at that desk.

Within it is the idea that we make ourselves.  That the outside only forms us up to a point–and the rest is up to us.  Also hidden in there is the idea that small effort, applied consistently over time, will get you where you want to go.

There are days when it’s hard.  And days when I missed it completely.  The important thing is to move on from there and make sure you do whatever-it-is the next day.  Don’t double up to make up for lost time.  Don’t let the guilt keep you from getting back to business the next day.  Just be there, do it.

Even if it was 500 words a day, I eventually ended up with stories.  Then there’s the whole “pyramids and bricks” thing.  Yadda-yadda.  You know the routine.

The only thing I would add to the above quoted text is this: every day, ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.  What makes it worthwhile?  Is it what you want to be doing?  This goes back to the mental aspects that Wilson included and can help you adjust your thinking.

The answer, along with the daily reminder to “do it every day,” will give you a good push in the direction you want to go.

Look At Your Past Without Guilt

A friend and I were talking yesterday, and she mentioned how so-and-so had done such-and-such by the age of somewhere-in-the-mid-20s.  This, she said, made her feel lame in comparison.

I replied with a few thoughts, and then, as usually happens, thought to myself, wait a minute.  That was a Thing. I usually forget stuff if I don’t write it down, so I tried to condense what I was thinking into a tweet:

Look at your past without guilt over what you haven’t accomplished. If you don’t like what you see, use that as fuel to change going forward.

The problem is that we often make the mistake of comparing ourselves to someone else and letting that form into a type of self-judgement, whether that someone is another person or some image of what we want to be or think we should be but aren’t.  What I was getting at in my responses to my friend and that tweet is that our past has passed, is water under the bridge, spilled milk, and so on.  When it comes to the accomplishments of yesterday, there’s no room for guilt. Any time spent sighing over what we could have or should have accomplished is a waste.

We also tend to underestimate our past accomplishments, but that’s the subject of another post.

What our past does give us, though, is fuel for changing our future.  If you look back and find yourself lacking in what you’d hoped you would accomplish, let that drive you to change what comes next.

Did you write that book / run that marathon / start that business?   No?   Then it comes down to the playground question: what are you gonna do about it?

Do you wish you would have painted more, photographed more, written more, traveled more, or, hell, I don’t know, collected more garden gnomes?

Now is your chance.

Our actions speak clearer than hopes and wishes. If you’re committed, you can do this.  It might hurt to give up whatever has consumed your time (ahhh, but something tells me you might not miss it as much as you think), but that’s where the whole fuel thing comes in.  Take that “Damnit, I wish I would have ________” feeling, and ride it like a rocket.  That “I wish I would have” feeling is what will help you cut loose from whatever holds you back.  Direct your efforts ruthlessly to your new pursuit.

Time will go by no matter what.  How will you spend it?

Zen, jazz,& creativity: Lessons from the art of jazz

danielholter:

mnmal:

Zen, jazz, & creativity: Lessons from the art of jazz

– In structure there is freedom and spontaneity.
– Restraints and limitations can be great liberators.
– Don’t ever force it; be ever natural.
– Good intentions are key. Sincerity is king, and yet…
– It’s not about you.
– Listen more than speak.
– Speak only when you have something to say, and then in the most economic way possible.
– Your approach can be direct and subtle at the same time.
– Fear is natural (and human), but work through it and past it. Don’t let fear hold you back.
– Mistakes are part of it (do not worry about them).
– Embrace the power of now, this moment.
– Technique matters, but it’s not the most important element.
– Make no pretenses; put up no facades.
– Laugh, smile if you feel like it — why not?
– Share yourself with others; make a contribution.
– Simplicity is supremely beautiful, yet difficult to obtain.
– Emptiness and silence are powerful elements of expression.
– Remove the clutter, strive for absolute clarity.
– If you think you have mastered it, you’ve have already begun your descent.
– Always be learning. Always be learning. Always be learning.
– Curiosity is your greatest gift, nurture it (in yourself and in others)

WIP Update And Change In Editing Process

I’ve been a somewhat on the quiet side lately as far as Actual Blog Posts are concerned, mostly because of being busy working.

Hey, there are worse reasons, right?

I’ve also reinstated my rule that my work gets done first before I check into the world.  This means no checking Facebook/Twitter/flickr/message boards/statistics/whatever until my work is done.  Otherwise, if I do, it derails my mind into marketing and promotion mode instead of creative mode.  Not a good thing.

I’m in the middle of revisions for MOROCCO.  This is a tricky one both story-wise and editing-wise.  I’ve finished, hrm, a dozen or so stories by now–enough that I feel I have tabs on my working process, how I think, how I revise.  But I know damn well I’d be stupid to think I know everything (or even the tip of that iceberg) or can’t improve, so I’m trying a different sort of revision process on this story.  Anything that helps me find the holes in my story is a good thing.  The problem is in the change of habits.  It’s hard, it’s slow, it’s confusing, and I find myself checking back on the guide I’m following to remember what it is I’m supposed to be doing it.  I’m sure this will go smoother as I find my stride with the new system.

I had the feeling during the writing of MOROCCO (and again after I finished it) that I needed more.  More story, more time in-story, more description, and that feeling is holding up during the revision process.  I’m finding spots where stuff needs more development and to be actually grounded in the real, living world through description.  The story weighs in around 15k words.  My concern is that this will push it above 20k, which seems to be the upper limit for most short story markets that I’ve seen, and in the very low range for novella word counts.  I don’t think I would prefer it to blossom to novella-length for two reasons:

  • I already have one novella in the form of STRANDED
  • I don’t think there’s enough story in MOROCCO to fill out another 10-20k words (to get it up to 30k-40k) without feeling bloated.

This is all subject change as I continue revisions.  Most likely, I won’t know what I have until after the first rewrite.

When I’m not editing MOROCCO, I’m doing planning work for my next book, FUTURE.  Part of the reason for the change in editing for MOROCCO is that I’m going to use a very similar system for planning FUTURE and I’d like to get a handle on it before I begin.

In other news, I started participating in the Flickr 365 days group (see the 365 category and flickr links in the sidebar). Photography is on my list of “things to do and get better at” but often gets trumped by writing, music, and Actually Taking Some Time To Relax On Rare Occasion (see Murder Your Darlings ).  As such, I’m participating, but keeping a tight rein on my desire to excel and be perfect at it (and the time that that would take, which I don’t have).