I Don’t Have Writer’s Block, You Have Writer’s Block

No really, I don’t get writer’s block. There’s always another idea.

Oh, you want a specific idea in a narrow set of parameters, like a blog post maybe, that provides some sort of example or instruction with a smidge of encouragement and a pinch of humor?

Sure. In the meantime, here’s an unrelated picture I took on a trip. Not a metaphor.

Brick wall building creative uploads

Nice, huh? Wait, seriously, you don’t think that’s a brick wall, do you? I mean there are windows and a door — clearly you could get through it unless the windows are closed and the place is locked.

Or you could break a window, pick the lock, and tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev.

I really don’t get writer’s block, and neither do you. So don’t embrace the delusion that you do. That freezes you in a giant bear hug that keeps you from moving any direction.

Some things I embrace instead:

  • Procrastination
  • Depression *
  • Television
  • Anything Amusing
  • Laundry
  • Long Naps

My point is if you need to “not do,” try that out for a little bit. You don’t have to put a timer on it, but be reasonable and then start doing again. I don’t think I get “writers block,” because I could write whatever it is I need to, if I just started doing it, at least a first draft.

Like today: I wasn’t writing a post because I didn’t start thinking about a post because I wanted to do something else. I had stepped outside the process flow.

And then I wrote a post, because I started writing the post.

Now the simple fact that the draft probably needed editing and cuts, like chopping off the first paragraph or so to get to the point quicker — even if I threw everything out and started over again — that’s not writer’s block, that’s editing, and editing is part of the process of writing.

Calling it “writer’s block” is making an excuse for not doing something because you feel like doing something else instead.

In the same way, writing is an excuse for not screwing around. (Or when you are really good, an excuse for not doing housework!)

What do you love more at this moment? Do that thing. Then switch. But switch soon-ish, especially if you have a deadline.

—–David

P.S. I call this methodology “proactive procrastination.” Yeah, I may put off a priority but if I get something else out of the way , it won’t interrupt me or be an excuse later.

* Depression can be a small dip or a giant cliff, either way it’s a speed bump even if it’s not “clinical” depression. It’s a lower energy that doesn’t feed you.

I enjoy it as a break because it’s never felt permanent for me, but — and I’m not a qualified source here — if it’s not “temporary” for you, seek help from someone who can guide you to a shovel or sherpa and climb out of it at least once in a while. Even night gives way to day with persistence (and yes, vice versa) and with regularity.

P.P.S. A slightly related musing from the archives, and this watch again post on procrastination.

I Don’t Have Writer’s Block, You Have Writer’s Block was originally published on Creative Uploads

Advertisements

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

Fake It Until You Make It Is Terrible Advice For Artists

What does it even mean? Try hard until you succeed? No, that would be fine. Is it some perverse sexual wordplay? Well, art is art, but no.

So, pretend that you can do something until you do?

That’s great if you’re in an 80’s movie*, but really, if you are trying to make something….

Wait for it.

Please wait, or please do something

MAKE SOMETHING.

It won’t be good. It might be okay. Odds are it will totally suck. Privately, even you might realize it’s crap, or you might think it’s the best thing ever (and that’s great, but honestly this often happens because we are so happy we actually made something! But really we tend to give ourselves extra credit for understanding our artistic process and the subtext.)

So it’s made, but it’s bad. So what? And, so what now?

Simple: Don’t pretend it’s good and stop. Repeat the process. Make something else. Again and again. Again.

Hey wait, that time it was okay. Maybe it even shows a glimmer of something shinier than the sum of its parts. Maybe someone else gets a glimpse of your subtext this time, as you refine your ability to communicate it.

Because we get better with practice, but in the creative field, practice is actually fun. Oh, and hard work at times, but fun.

Faking it doesn’t make anything.

Make it until you don’t feel like you’re faking it. Or until enough others feel that way, depending on how deep you like to breed your artistic angst.

—–David

P.S. “In the creative field, practice is actually fun” does not only apply to textbook definitions of creative endeavors. You can draw on creativity, inspiration, delightful random chance, discovery, and whimsy in any situation with excellent results.

Part of that trick is sometimes using creativity more for creation and less for expression (And not with numbers. Don’t get creative with the numbers!). Technique and presentation can come from opposite corners.

I mean, I don’t know what Newton was doing under that apple tree, but an apple fell on his head and he decided to define gravity mathematically. You can’t tell me that’s not creative as hell. And pie. Who came up with apple pie?

And even longer ago:

Do or do not. There is no try.

Or so I have heard.

* I’m thinking Michael J. Fox in “The Secret of My Success” here, not Michael J. Fox in “Bright Lights, Big City,” one of which is funnier (not saying which) but both involve faking it and making it in business, though not in the creative field.

Fake It Until You Make It Is Terrible Advice For Artists was originally published on Creative Uploads

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Hours?

Creative uploads photo talent practice

Sometimes you just take a picture. It’s a snap. It takes a second and maybe you doubt even give out a lot of thought when you do it.

But does it reflect things you’ve learned and forgotten from the thousands of pictures you’ve taken before, whether loved or ignored? Is it an innate skill grown from casual talent?

Yes.

Can you be good without being born with “talent”?

Yes.

Because people that are good at something may have had so-called talent, but really that means they had a drive and curiosity and interest that led them to dedicate time toward playing with and learning and understanding  what they wanted to do.

So take a picture, it will last longer than you think. Even if you never look at it again.

—–David

P.S. So for everybody that takes selfies and that’s it, you will get really good at selfies, perhaps accidentally. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a career out of them because although they are portraits, the self-portrait market doesn’t pay a lot.

Unless you have a sponsor.

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Hours? was originally published on Creative Uploads

Flashback Photo: My Kid

She put herself in there.

I was a stay-at-home dad for many years, and I can’t think of a better way for a photographer to practice. Now, you don’t want to sleep or have a lot of time to do anything else, do you? At least photography lets you keep a constant eye on children, even if they don’t necessarily get eye contact.

TIP: The kid is low. Shoot low. Who wants to see pictures of the top of cute little heads all the time?

TIP: Learn to aim your camera without looking through the viewfinder.* You can use the rear screen but even better, just learn where it points and learn how to twist your lens between wide medium and closeup and what that means.

This helps you get shots of kids that like to run or duck pictures too.

Also even though I say flashback, try to shoot without the flash out. Kids hate bright light in their eyes. Not just kids. Get natural light and a good look and don’t teach the kid to blink and hide from the camera because it’s uncomfortable.

—–David

* Yes, I have said this before, and I hear you say, but how do we learn? Take a bunch of pictures and review them. You do look at your pictures during and after a session don’t you? While the scene is still fresh enough in your mind to learn something from it?

P.S. Use a flash when you need to. Realize you often don’t need to. If it’s really dark or your subject is moving fast in dimmer light, well, that gets tricky doesn’t it…. We had a good run with the mannequin challenge where you could lie and get someone to stand still pretending to shoot video, but that’s so 2016.

 

 

 

Flashback Photo: My Kid was originally published on Creative Uploads