Tag Archives: creativity

Tips from the Lectern

The number of great, inspiring graduation addresses that hit the web every spring always leave me feeling a little more excited for the future, a little happier with my personal vantage point, and eager for the new graduates to inject some life into our daily workings. (My strange love of a good commencement speech is a little less creepy when you realize that my summer work force is largely composed of these bright young minds.)

Have you seen Neil Gaiman‘s address for the University of the Arts commencement ceremonies?

Because if you haven’t? It’s worth it. Gems of wisdom for the newly-minted creatives among us. Here’s one pearl:

Looking back, I’ve had a remarkable ride. I’m not sure I can call it a career, because a career implies that I had some kind of career plan, and I never did. The nearest thing I had was a list I made when I was 15 of everything I wanted to do: to write an adult novel, a children’s book, a comic, a movie, record an audiobook, write an episode of Doctor Who… and so on. I didn’t have a career. I just did the next thing on the list.

Kim Pensinger Witman‘s post from a few weeks back touches on a similar theme, of thinking of the next exciting step, rather than trying to “do” the whole career at once. And while Mr. Gaiman does talk about having a idea of what he wanted to become, his “mountain,” he also speaks about the flexibility and choices that he made in order to get closer to that less-direct, slightly fuzzy goal. (I’ll tie some of this in with a review of Marci Alboher‘s One Person/Multiple Careers in the next week or so.)

He also has a few valuable snippets for freelancers, points that currently ring quite true in the arts community:

People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

Be prepared. Be flexible. Be nice. A good professional mantra, even if you’re not quite sure what exactly you want to be when you grow up.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Daydreaming

I’ve been searching for and, happily, finding great resources for creatives looking for their next step. There are so many interesting articles and points of view! But at this point it feels a little like my head is a very vast space (I’m stuck on the image of a train station…Union Station in DC, or perhaps Philly’s 30th Street Station…something with lots of marble), filled with many people…there are fragments of ideas bouncing off of the walls, careening into other thoughts, dashing some into pieces and integrating others into a larger, more complex idea. It’s part rock concert, part flea market, part art exhibition, part carnival.

Here are some contributors to my mental cacophony:

I’ve been reading her blog for a while now, but I’ve just picked up Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Fire Starter Sessions.

And I’ve been spending time reading the Communicatrix, who has coincidentally just reviewed Chris Guillebeau‘s (you read him, right?) new book The $100 Startup.

These folks are smart and courageous. They write like they’re speaking to a friend. Some of it’s inspiration…some is tough love…and some are case studies, examples of how others have opted into or out of places and spaces.I have to say that there’s never been a better time to rethink yourself, your path. These are brave, eloquent people who have found unconventional success…and moreover, have defined that loaded word “success” in their own way. I like to think of having one of them on my shoulder, to provide perspective when my inner demons are telling me that I’m not good/smart/kind/industrious enough to amount to much.

But the first thing that I’m seeing in all of these folk’s philosophies? Is that they daydream. They practice cultivating those crazy, out-of-the-box thoughts…much like we practiced auditioning. Daily. Specifically. Focused. They allow themselves to daydream, without a censor telling them that they can’t, shouldn’t, will-never-be-able-to.

They’ve allowed themselves to think about those things that they want…without putting the onus of merit on their dreams. Let’s remove from the equation for just a moment whether you feel you deserve something, or all of the things, or nothing at all. And let’s just go with the thought that someone thinks that you deserve to dream.

(Heck, I think you deserve to dream! Add one person to your mental cheerleader list.)

Now, from that empty place? Dream.

What do you want? How do you want to feel? No judgements. Nothing is too vast or too shallow – it’s dreaming.

I want the metabolism of a 20-year-old; I also want the wisdom and smarts of someone older and wiser and smarter than I. I want respect. I want inner peace. I want to be able to hold my liquor. I want people to love being around me. I want to be on Oprah someday. I want to write a book. I want children. I want to give my friends and family stories and songs to remember me by. I want to stand up for myself more often. I want a big-girl purse. I want to be able to shave my knees and ankles without bloodying them. I want to write letters in longhand. I want to be more creative.

(There’s my top-of-my-head, all of the things I can type in two minutes, daydream list. I could go on. I bet you could too.)

My challenge to you is to take 5 minutes, create a google doc or grab a notebook or send yourself a voicemail. And daydream about the things you want. Do it every day for 7 days. Think of it as getting yourself into the practice room…for your next chapter.

Let’s check back in here next week and see what we come up with…shall we?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: