Category Archives: Creativity

Let’s Be Bad At Things

Sometimes I’m afraid of turning this site into a pity party but no one reads me so I’ll try to rid myself of that fear. This is more for me than you but feel free to read if you must.

Hey Brad, it’s okay to suck at this writing thing.

You’ve read a hundred articles on the subject but you haven’t grasped the concept. Pretty much everyone sucks when they start doing something. The real victory shows when you push through the barrier, admit you suck, and keep on chugging. This applies to writing, photography, design, and pretty much everything you can imagine. They say practice makes perfect and while I don’t know if “perfect” is the right word, practice sure makes you better to some degree.

I hated my Ti2 TechLiner review. I really did. Why? It lacked feeling, it felt forced, and it was abnormally hard to write. Of course I know why, I haven’t tried to write anything in months! If you pick up a pen or sit down at a keyboard once in a blue moon, you’re not likely to produce anything worth caring about. The trick is to sit down, pound out garbage, publish it (or whatever applies in your situation), and move on to the next thing. Sure it might suck but people have short memories these days, keep at it and eventually you’ll write something resonates with someone out there.

So this is a note to myself — and anyone else doubting themselves — keep up the bad work. You’ll eventually become mediocre and when you do, you’ll feel pretty darn great.

Learning as you go

Matt Alexander wrote a fantastic piece to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of his site, One Thirty Seven.

12 months gone, over 800 articles written, more than 30 podcasts recorded, and too many new friends to count.

With one lesson for each month, here’s some of the most fundamental things I’ve gotten wrong, observed, and learned over the past year.

It’s a very long article detailing twelve things he’s learned in the past year, one entry for each month. I highly recommend you read it, there is a wealth of knowledge inside.

Failure IS an option!

This week, I coined a new term: “Temporary Failure Environment”. This is an idea I came up with while trying to work through some creative issues. This process most likely isn’t anything new but I stumbled onto it by my own accord so I’ll act like it’s mine for the duration of this entry. I think it will prove to be quite helpful for people suffering from the same creative fright I’ve been paralyzed by.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at some form of art lately, that’s what started this whole thing. If you have been reading this blog for at least a week, you know that I believe we all battle what I call the “Inner Judge”. This Judge is the reason we know we’ll fail before we even start, he exists to stop our creativity. When you’re facing this judge, the trick is to put the battle outside of his normal turf. How do you do that? You set up a Temporary Failure Environment. It’s amazing what mental blocks are removed when you make it clear to yourself and the Judge that everything is temporary. A page in a sketchbook is more intimidating than a loose page from the same sketchbook. Why? Because our minds see the page in the sketchbook as something permanent while the loose page is not.

Once that loose page is in front of you, it’s simply a matter of accepting that it can be trash at a moments notice. That piece of paper is at your mercy, you either keep it or you destroy it, nothing can stop you. You are free to fail in this environment and it’s completely temporary, there will be no sign of your failure unless you choose to keep it.

Failure is always talked about in the negative but as with anything, it’s not that black and white. When you’re so afraid of failure that you are unable to perform a creative task, you need to introduce failure on purpose. Once you’ve faced failure, it’s no longer such an intimidating foe. Your Inner Judge has very little he or she can say when you make it clear that failure IS an option. Naturally we don’t want to fail forever but the first step to beating the Inner Judge is embracing the failure that has kept your success at bay. Once you have done that, the hard part is past.

I feel this can be applied to writing as well as it’s quite similar to some writer’s block tricks that I’ve read. It’s a little different environment when you’re trying to work through a writers block or having problems with character development, but I still contend that there is some form of Inner Judge being applied that can be defeated if you take him to task outside of his normal environment. Put yourself in a Temporary Failure Environment and open yourself to failure. I have a feeling that if you drop your guard and embrace the impending failure, you will work your way through the blockage. The trick is always to move the fight onto turf where the Judge has no power.

Now… get out there and fail! And then start enjoying your success. 😉

Who’s over your shoulder?

The Judge stands in my mind as a dark figure seated upon a huge black beast.

There are people who don’t fear this man, he has never shown his face to begin with. There are people who have faced this man and beat him, their lives now free from his interruptions. There are people who have faced this man, fought and beat him, only to have him remain. And there are those, like me, who have yet to face him but can feel his hot breath on our necks every day.

When I stand on the edge of a bright white empty landscape, writing utensil in hand, he is there. Somewhere behind me – I can feel his presence – he sits upon his black steed waiting to charge forward and gut what little belief I have in myself and what I’m attempting to do. He is a dark shadow in my mind, an ever present observer who will stop at nothing to make me feel inadequate and unqualified for whatever task I set out to perform.

Do you feel him behind you? The Judge stands behind me and I’ve yet to turn to face him. I am procrastinating, dreading the show down, putting off any necessary confrontation for tomorrow. Today I will say to myself “I need to pick up this pencil and draw something, anything!” and yet I’ll push it off with other excuses. I’ll watch TV, I’ll spend an hour on Twitter, I’ll read blogs,  I’ll suddenly remember that I need to pay some bills, anything to keep the standoff for another day.

I need to turn and face him, I need to lift my chin high and stare into his cold dark eyes and tell him where to go. This paper is mine, this pen is mine, what I create is for me and me alone. He need not interject his fear, doubt, loathing, and despair into my work, this isn’t for him, this is for me. I am the one in charge here, he lives in MY head. I am the master of this mind, he is simply an unwanted inhabitant who must be taught his place.

He doesn’t like these words, I can feel that. The Judge doesn’t want to be faced, he doesn’t want to be banished from my mind to leave me to my creative wishes. He wants to be in charge and the audacity that I would face him can be enough to send him on his way, back deep into the recesses of my mind to spend his days in a cave, waiting for weaker times. He’ll be back, he always comes back, but after you defeat him once, the power lies on your side and he knows it.

Don’t tell him, but I’m about to turn and shove a sword into his belly. For me, it will simply take the first stroke of this pencil to my sketchbook and the fight will begin. I do not intend to lose.

Life Time vs. Technology vs Creative Time

How’s that for a confusing title?

Here’s something I’d like to find an answer to: how to balance real life demands with our online demands and our creative demands. My life isn’t particularly filled with activities yet I spend 2 hours a day on the road travelling to/from work, 8.5 hours at work, then come home to a Fiance who wants to spend time with me, not to mention the preparation of dinner when I get home at 7pm. Toss in the draw of Twitter and checking out all the links that everyone shared throughout the day, and of course catching up on other computer activities like paying bills and stuff. Once you get all of that out of the way, when do you have time to do anything creative?

I’m writing this Sunday night. I like to write my blog posts as soon as the inspiration hits and then I schedule them. I spent all day Saturday out at a yearly gathering I throw for my car website and didn’t have a lot of time or energy to spend by the time I got home. I guess spending your day from 7:30am to 8pm on your feet running around and inhaling smoke from a bbq grill will do that to you. Needless to say, I had no interest in doing anything creative other than making a mental note to journal about the gathering so I’d have some solid notes for next year.

Now here it is, 11:30pm on Sunday night, I need to go to bed but I still haven’t journaled about Saturday. I came down to my office to do just that but instead this inspiration hit me and I sat down to type it out, then of course Twitter called and I was off checking links for the next 30 minutes. I still have to sit down to write and if I’m lucky, I’ll maybe get a page into it before I get tired and want to go to bed. I’m sure you’re thinking I could have started earlier and I agree, but I spent the day relaxing with the Fiance and then this NCIS marathon came on… 🙂

I wish I had an answer on how to cram all this into one day but I can’t. I’m starting to think the best thing to do is just ignore technology (very hard) and forge on with the “real” things in life. Granted, that’s not the real answer but there sure are a lot of devices in our lives that now compete for our time, be it creative or “real” life. I’m probably not the only one who falls victim to the technology bug.

I’m positive technology is doing us equal harm as good.