Conflict and Resolution: Well, Excu-uuuse Me!

Storytellers like to say that all stories, good stories, have conflict and resolution. There is a challenge that confronts the hero, and by the end of the story you have some closure — either the hero has new resolve or a solution has been achieved.

There are exceptions of course, sometimes that hanging thread makes for an emotional coda.

The hanging thread is what I’m here to talk about today, why, for this example, I don’t always post regularly.

I’m going to skip the usual excuses, and keeping with the tone of this site find the explanation and use it to target a solution instead of using it to get out of the real work.

If the unexamined life is not worth living, then you need to maintain the distinction between understanding yourself and making excuses for yourself, even if they sometimes use the same words. 

My current obstacle is that I am short on time and my intermittently limited motivation sometimes lets me trade something I want to do (like create a quality blog post) for something I also enjoy (like watching one of the television shows stacked up on my TiVo.)

The irony of it is, if I wanted to be as casual in posting as I am about watching TV, I could post all day, but sort of snarky, throwaway, funny, clever or biting posts are the landscape of my Tumblr and Twitter feeds. This blog was built to have more weight and introspection, so it takes longer than one would imagine to create what I consider a “quality post” — my measurement not yours — so sometimes it feels like a bite of time I can’t take.

But this project is also about building habits: creating, editing, confessing and publishing.

So I’m not going to resolve, or promise, or anything. But here’s a post. It’ll help me when I come across it again, and maybe it will help you. At the end of the day excuses don’t count for much if anything, but explanations that lead to understanding and creation do. So there will be more posts, and sometimes, they should be shorter, because, well, poems range from haiku to Dante’s three-volume “Divine Comedy.”

—–David

P.S. But for the record I have a presentation that I need to work on, a long music performance to edit, a spreadsheet of data to process which will actually earn me money, housework, and a full TiVo and Netflix list. Oh and it’s bedtime and I really like to sleep. (Not on normal people’s schedules, though)

I also have better habits now than I used to, and that gives me the confidence that I will be able to get all of those things in a manageable order.

P.P.S. Ha, I can’t post tonight because of technical errors out of my control!

Conflict and Resolution: Well, Excu-uuuse Me! was originally published on Creative Uploads

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Why Is Special Event A Caution Sign?

I didn’t mean for a metaphor to hit me over the head while I was just driving down the street, but seriously. Stop Special Event Ahead Caution! Creaive Uploads

 

As creative types, we will often take any excuse to detour around things, just dropping our good habits for a few minutes or hours or days. The delighted and self-destructive among us love when special events intrude on our schedule and we can throw everything out the window. We also hate that, because it means that we ‘ll need to make a new schedule at some point, and right now maybe stop thinking about our vague current idea or whatever we had planned.

That sure sounds like it calls for caution. I mean you’re on this road to get somewhere, right? And you’re being forced to change your route or get stuck in “traffic” that will slow you down.

But special events are special – it’s literally in the name. And if you want to be artistic or just enjoy yourself, special events are often an event worth the experience. Even if they totally suck by the end of it, you have a story — at least in your head or for the next party, or maybe even for a song or a film or a collection of pages.

So no, I don’t know that special events need caution. Feed your stuff, by feeding yourself.

And certainly understand the limitations and obstacles that they may present. But as someone who doesn’t mind being social yet still will try to avoid an event because it doesn’t seem “important enough,” or sometimes feels like it’s an excuse to not do the work you promised yourself you were going to do that day, or it costs money and you think you can save yourself into prosperity… Well honestly, those are all pretty good reasons/excuses.

But not all the time. Too many excuses gets you too good at excuses.

Too many special events makes them less special.

Strike a balance, and use caution, but don’t just stop.

—–David

P.S. I still remember seeing author Fran Leibovitz on David Letterman talking about how she was at a party that she don’t want to be at because she would literally take any excuse to avoid writing. I thought it was hilarious and honest and I took it as advice. And it is some of the worst advice for a writer I have ever heard. (Not that she intended it to be advice.)

Things I ignored:

  • She’d actually already written something and been published before that, so perhaps she was entitled to relax on occasion.
  • She ended up with a story that she could tell on a TV show, so she wasn’t entirely wasting her time.
  • I have no idea what she wrote and was plugging, and
  • I do not own any of her books

But I love her. https://www.facebook.com/franlebowitz/

https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fran_Lebowitz

Why Is Special Event A Caution Sign? was originally published on Creative Uploads

I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks

Came across a blog post today from Stage 32 featuring a couple of videos that might be of interest to creative types that might want to download them into their brain (see what I did there? A truly terrible attempt at a joke. That’s what you call a first draft, and would cut in editing.)

The first video is a unicorn for me, something I knew existed but has been hard to find. I’ve only ever seen ten minutes of it and was amazed by it: Michael Caine on Acting For Film. THE Michael Caine, teaching actors film techniques, filmed for a British production quite a few years ago. Caught part of it on PBS when I was younger, and even though I am not focused on the acting field, the techniques he displays and his passion for the work are inspiring.

PLUS: It’s easily adapted to directing tips, to screenwriting and storytelling. It would even help you if you are just taking a meeting. Caine advises you to “pick an eye”, and shows why.

CAINE
But if I’m talking to you, and I don’t blink,
and I just keep on going, and I don’t blink….

He goes into methods for holding focus, grabbing attention, and simple tricks to hit your mark, demonstrating everything. Filmmakers: send this link to your actors. He’s not teaching for stage, but he makes comparisons and you can see those differences yourself and find things that would help whatever your venue, like being smaller or bigger with your performance without upstaging.

I’m not going to delve too far into it, because there’s so much here you will find different things than I do.

The second video is from Actualized.org, covering techniques on How To Overcome Creative Blocks and Writer’s Block. Even if you have writer’s block and you watch it and it doesn’t help you, you can tell yourself you were trying to be productive for thirty minutes and feel better about yourself, right? (I guarantee that’s not in the video, nor is it the best tip ever. But we all do it!)

This clip is a little more valuable than that, though. (Spoiler alert: it starts with commitment.)

Click here for the Stage 32 blog post with the videos

Just do it. No apologies to Nike. Why would you steal such a powerful statement and apply it only to shoes?

—–David

P.S. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Michael Caine:


https://youtu.be/bZPLVDwEr7Y

Overcoming Creative Blocks is here:
https://youtu.be/OwgD1vmAawo

P.P.S.  I successfully broke my writing addiction when I was younger (don’t do it!) but I still write (just a little less obsessively). Which was probably a mistake. I’ll talk about that another time.

But I always said I never got writer’s block. This is true in one common perception of the term: I don’t run out of ideas. But I do block myself from writing when I should, and that’s an even more insidious issue that I will be addressing with help from sources like this one.

I Will Read (Watch) This Again: Michael Caine on Acting For Film, plus Beating Creative Blocks was originally published on Creative Uploads

The Internet Is Just Evolution

Humanity has been learning, collecting, cataloging and sharing information since the dawn of time.

The internet is not new. It’s just a new way of doing things, and it lets us search for and find information faster if we train our brains how to use it. Imagine the evolution that will grow out of that.

Some of the information we come across in our lives is wrong, no matter where we find it, both on purpose and accidentally, and that’s always happened. (Even mom was wrong about that whole swimming after eating thing.)

But don’t fool yourself: we aren’t doing something new, we’re just doing it in a different way.

Don’t be intimidated; we aren’t doing something impossible, just more complicated.

Just do something with it. It’s the library of Alexandria, check it out!

—–David

P.S. And don’t set your assumptions in concrete and never break them apart to see if they still hold up.  Even encyclopedias got updated every so often.

 

 

The Internet Is Just Evolution was originally published on Creative Uploads

Not Dried Up

I know there’s been a drought of posts, but the site’s just been resting while other projects demand to be watered. Researched an idea to move hosts and now planning on taking everything with and not starting with a new blank page. Whether I have the time to post a lot or not, this will be sticking around for a while. I have a plan. And a hosting plan. The broadcast stays on air.

I also wasn’t sure for a little while if I was going to stick with a self-hosted version or just maintain the perfectly adequate and free WordPress.com mirror, and didn’t want to keep it all shiny to have it disappear shortly.* You do want to spend time creating, but not a disproportionate amount creating something that evaporates.

It’s hard to strike a balance. I have that conversation with my theater-loving performing child who rehearses for weeks and only gets to put on the show a few times, versus me wanting her to be on video or do a film project with me, which could last for ages and find a wider ranging audience..

But the camaraderie, process and applause are a siren call, aren’t they? For all of us, in our own way.

—–David

* Reference: borderline hoarding but also the economy of efficiency.

Not Dried Up was originally published on Creative Uploads

Ennui Or Entropy

Sometimes you’re just not excited to do a post, or you pretend to yourself that you don’t have the energy, when really you have energy but you want to do something else with it; for example, sit on the couch and watch television and read your iPad.

Creative uploads camera filter frowny faceAnd sometimes your phone battery is just dead at the end of the day.

So don’t beat yourself up about it Just recharge. If it’s important you’ll get back to it and if you don’t, I guess it wasn’t that important to you.

So is it important? Do you feel lucky, punk?

—–David

P.S. Wow, that “Dirty Harry” was a great movie did you know Frank Sinatra was originally tapped to be the star? Maybe he just didn’t feel like doing it?

P.P.S. You can kick back sometimes. But not always, if you ever want to get things done. Still, timing is everything. So prepare for what you want to do (as discussed elsewhere in his blog) and then be ready to jump. 

Ennui Or Entropy was originally published on Creative Uploads

I Wasn’t Ready For This, no wait….

A favorite quote:

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
– Seneca the Younger

Or if you prefer a more recent version:

I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
– Oprah Winfrey

Preparation to me includes practice, education, fascination, and plain old playing around. Also a lot of failure and occasional nuggets of success.

Enjoy the journey.

—- David

P.S. Also:

Luck be a lady tonight.

Preparation H (because sometimes it’s a pain….)

Opportunity knocks:

  • Once
  • Twice
  • You over
  • When you least expect it

I Wasn’t Ready For This, no wait…. was originally published on Creative Uploads

Surf’s Up, Plan Ahead

New Prisma style out, called “Surf”. 

Why does it make me look so old here? Most be too much sun. 🙂

Actually, it has to do with how the Prisma styles work, emphasizing shadows more in some cases, and needing certain colors for better results. Most dramatically to me, fine details versus more coarse shapes makes some pictures great and others awful, which is why the photo you use is critical to a good result.

Here is a set with my dogs using “Surf” with the setting put at 67% to leave a little of the red in one dog’s fur.

And a version with Mondrian, one of my favorite styles, but only when matched with the right picture. This pairing doesn’t work for me.

Too many curved edges and fine color differences leave us with two disparate sections.

But the Mondrian style also netted this result with the other dog earlier this year, so it only demonstrates my point.

Play, experiment and learn where something fails so you can plan your photo for the filter style sometimes, instead of only hoping for good luck.

—–David

P.S. You bet this applies to anything you shoot, filter or not, angle, lighting, subject, timing… Planning can get you closer to stunning (as can a bit of judicious editing like bringing the style down, but also brightening, contrast adjustments and more.)

P.P.S. Of course some of my best photos were taken almost by accident or on the fly, so you never know. When you need consistent results plan ahead and enjoy the experiments when you can.

Surf’s Up, Plan Ahead was originally published on Creative Uploads

Why Worry About Not Worrying?

My daughter told me tonight how she was worried about the lanyard pouch she had left at school in her last class, which had some money and her school ID card. This is the lanyard I told her to write her teacher about when I picked her up, to make sure that when she got to the class late tomorrow it was there and put away. Seemed to make sense to me.

Of course when the teacher didn’t write back to her tonight, doubt and fear crept in, possibly in part from that seed I planted, though she may have come up with it on her own. “What if someone….” Of course I tried to reassure her that having been sent the email, the teacher would probably grab it early. And extolling that most people are honest. “Don’t worry,” I said.

And then I realized that doesn’t help her. It’s a command, not instruction.

Half of “Don’t worry” is worry. Does anybody worry less because they are told to? Unless it’s that great sixties song, “Don’t Worry, Baby,” I think that helps, but that’s probably the music.

What you really need to do is try to start a worry diet. If you want to lose weight, or stop smoking or drinking something too much, the first thing you try is self-control, but humans aren’t good at that at. We obviously put it off so long that we ended up eating, smoking and drinking too much.

What humans are good at, without any practice, is putting things off. Oh, we want, we crave, yet when it’s really important but takes good mental effort, we have the urge to put it off. The best of us can push past that quickly. But we all have the urge.

I say: give in to the urge to put things off sometimes. It’s satisfying to take such control that you can literally do nothing for a moment or hour or day, should you choose. Plus, entropy takes less effort at the start. Gotta love a lazy Sunday, right? Of course recovering from it may take longer: you can quickly roll down a tall hill with relative ease, but getting back to the the top at the same speed is another story.

So what’s the trick? 

Pick what you put off. This concept took me years to figure out. I would have found it sooner but I put it off. I wanted to drink less soda. I won’t. But I will put off getting one by telling myself to drink a glass of water first. And I make it a ritual. This lets me quench my thirst and usually means I drink the soda slower when I get it.And I have half the chance of grabbing a soda instead of water.

What does that have to do with worry? Well, I was worried I might drink too much soda. (I also worry that any soda is too much, but one thing at a time.) It is a process, so there is more than one step.

I worry less when I give myself something else to do, or think about, distract me.

Once I get there, worry is in the entropy zone. Find your thing: exercise, cleaning, stupid tv, or playing music (listening or making can work), or just tell yourself:

  • “I just can’t even.”
  • “I will think about that later.”
  • “I will worry about that in the morning if my lanyard is still missing.”
  • “I’m going to have a soda”

See, if it’s something you need to worry about, the worry or panic or fear or loss will gladly come around again; you didn’t need to worry twice, right?

You will worry a little less, then when you surrender to not caring  for a while, you can forget to worry for longer.

Now if it’s something you have some control over, you can try to do something. Not to worry, but literally, trying to fix something that would you would otherwise worry about is the best distraction from worrying, ever. That’s why we call it being proactive, and not active worrying. Sometimes all you can do is schedule a reminder or write a note so you can take action later. Okay, do that. Take your time doing it. Start immediately, but do it slowly and carefully, maybe even in a silly way.Why leave yourself one voice mail when three will over do it? Several Post-It notes in a circle. Like you’re going to forget.

And you may fail at “Don’t worry.” So what? Who cares but you? Don’t beat yourself up about it. (Now I still laugh at myself when I accidentally hurt myself or fall down, so I am a special case. But that is literally the opposite of not beating yourself up, how can you not laugh at that?) Worrying about worrying is the worst double with cheese, ever.

If it’s important, it will come up again. I accidentally posted this while still writing, and then my website went down. So I found a way to keep writing the missing paragraphs and ignored my thoughts that maybe I don’t have a current backup.. Now the website is back up and I don’t even need to worry about it. Shame it’s too late for a congratulatory soda. You know what? I am going to schedule this post to publish later. Just to practice putting things off.

—David

P.S. You can schedule the times for when you put things off and when you don’t to your benefit. Using my soda story, I don’t wake up and have one; I try to wait until I have been up for a few hours. Since I don’t drink coffee, this means I am not reliant on caffeine in the morning. I may be slouchy and show, but I’m not addicted! And since caffeine has a long half life, unless it’s late weekend night or a special dinner out, I have to get my last soda in before five o’clock in hopes of making me get to bed earlier. (It doesn’t work; I am really good at putting off going to bed.) But I literally have less time for the habit I want to reduce. Imagine applying that to worry time. “Oh, I only worry after lunch.” That sounds relaxing.

P.P.S. Another approach you can try: One of my favorite scenes from the first season of “Lost”: Kate is hiding in trees as a polar bear is trying to attack and she counts to five. Didn’t watch it? Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter. Jack had told Kate earlier about a time he was terrified but still needed to act: “So I just made a choice. I’d let the fear in, let it take over, let it do its thing, but only for five seconds, that’s all I was going to give it. So I started to count: One, two, three, four, five. Then it was gone.”

P.P.P.S. Sometimes you fail. You drink, or you worry, or you fall. Does that mean you give up? No, usually we fail because we didn’t worry enough about the behavior we were trying to change. So don’t worry about it. Now you know you know how not to worry! Just change the approach to take advantage of that. You will try again, when you feel like it. Maybe even try harder.

Or do. There is no try. Because “do not” can be a phase, the phase before “Do.”.

Why Worry About Not Worrying? was originally published on Creative Uploads