Archive for May 2014
For anyone who wishes to nurture their “creative spirit”, or wishes they were “more creative”, I have a few suggestions. The first is, get a job. If you already have one, fine. Keep it. If you don’t, get one. Now. I know this is going to sound counter-intuitive to those of you who’ve grown up on the “all you need is passion and the will to succeed” myth, but the truth — the very ugly truth — is, unless you’re a “trust fund baby” or Mom and Dad are willing to foot the bills while you search for your bliss, without a job you’re likely to find yourself living in your car down by the river, real quick. So if you don’t have a job, find one. It doesn’t have to be the job, it just has to be a job; one that pays you enough to pay the bills and have enough left over for a modicum of entertainment now and then (all work and no play . . . ). It also helps if it doesn’t make you gag when you think about it, or show up at the office (or wherever) with a loaded AK-47. If it does, find another job. Quick! Oh, and it also helps if it affords you enough time for “outside interests”. There aren’t many of these types of jobs around, but there are some; find one that suits.
Once you’ve established how you make your living, make an effort to develop those outside interests; something different from your workaday job. It doesn’t have to be radically different, just different enough so you don’t associate it with how you earn your living, and different enough to provide a distraction. The “distractive (is that even a word?) element” in your choice of outside interest is important. Creative ideas have an infuriating habit of showing up at the least opportune moments, usually when you’re doing something else. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been elbow-deep in my herb garden or engrossed in a project at my craft bench when the solution to a problem I’ve been struggling with (like writing this post) presents itself.
I can hear you saying, “But I don’t have time for “outside interests”!” That’s pretty much a standard response. Today’s work environment is so competitive, so mind-numbingly tedious, all you want to do at day’s end is plop in a chair and “veg out” or mindlessly surf the ‘net. I know, I’ve been there (binge-watching “Breaking Bad” or “GoT” or “Girls” or . . . whatever). But if you were to divert some of that time and devote it to doing something you enjoy; playing a musical instrument, painting, drawing, woodworking, working with crafts, yoga . . . whatever “floats your boat”, I’ll wager you’ll soon find yourself making time for it. Besides, you didn’t really want to watch another NCIS marathon, did you?
I know what you’re thinking, “All that may be true, but I’m not interested in any of that stuff. None of if sounds “interesting” enough.” No? Well, you’re sitting at your computer, right now. Why not “google” your local community college or artists’ co-operative? I bet they have dozens, if not hundreds, of interesting ideas. Ever thought about origami? Tulle painting? How about glass-blowing? Why not join an acting class?
The point I’m attempting to make here is, once you have the necessities in hand, its time to open yourself up to new experiences. Pique your curiosity. Experiment with life. Meet new people; exchange ideas, learn new skills. It’s the only way to prepare yourself for the opportunities that will present themselves.
Being creative is not a passive activity; you can’t sit back and wait for inspiration to come to you. You have to go out and inspire yourself. Creativity, like Life, is not a spectator sport. So turn off the “Doctor Who?” retrospective and find something interesting to do.
To start with, I’m not going to be posting anymore fiction here. It’s obvious (at least to me) I have no talent for it. so you won’t have to suffer with any of that drivel in the future. That being said, here is some “drivel” of a different sort. To wit:
We’ve been hearing this advice, doled out by business leaders, successful artists and entrepreneurs, for years. “Do what you love, the money will follow”, they tell us, or “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Jeffrey Katzenberg (yes, that, Pixar, Jeffrey Katzenberg) thinks we should stop (at least temporarily) following our dreams.
Addressing an audience of several hundred at the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles recently, Katzenberg said, business leaders “talk to kids today about following your dreams, but I’m not actually sure that’s such a great idea. How about follow your skill?” he asked, then added, “I believe every human being does something great. Follow that thing you’re really good at and that may become your passion.” Here was a successful business leader, one of the “movers and shakers” of the film industry telling hundreds of people, “don’t follow your passion”. I was stunned.
At first, it sounded as though he was saying, “forget passion, get a job”. But then I thought about it for a couple of minutes and I realized he was really explaining, in a very succinct way, how to find your passion. It starts by being good at something; and everybody is good at something. It’s in developing the skills that enable us to do what we’re good at that allows us to find that passion, that joie de vie that urges us from “good” to “great”. There are other advantages to developing skills.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, with no need to generate an income (and I don’t know of anyone in that situation, especially in today’s economy), the necessity of “gainful employment” is one that can’t be overlooked. Skills are marketable: passion, not so much. You may be passionate about climate change or painting or marine biology or baseball; or all of them for that matter. No one said you can’t be passionate about more than one thing. But it you don’t possess the skills necessary to pursue those passions, it’s unlikely you’ll find employment in any field other than fast food.
(Thanks to gapingvoid for the graphic)