Redefine the Muse: Who’s Responsible for Your Creativity?

[box options]Your creativity flourishes when you stop blaming others for not creating.[/box]

Simply put…

It’s you who created.


It’s you who did not create.

Not a muse. Not a spirit. It’s you.

The Muse

I believe in a muse (of sorts). I really do.

I believe you need to position yourself for your creativity, and I believe that you need to create a safe environment for your creativity to flourish.

But when happens when it doesn’t flourish?

Do you stop creating?

Did your ‘muse’ fail you?

Should you just wait for the muse to strike again (or not)?

The problem with believing whole-heartedly in the muse is this: it’s an easy out. 

As artists, we can quite easily be ruled by our feelings. If our feelings say “we have no inspiration, no muse, no hope,” we can easily give up. Continue reading “Redefine the Muse: Who’s Responsible for Your Creativity?”

Spread a Little Love

I love creating.

I seeing something come from nothing.

I love colorful candy. I also love eating it.

I love sharing. Sometimes. But not when it’s candy.

I love laughter; it’s probably my favorite sound of all.

I love the smell of bread baking. It just smells like life.

I love the feeling after conquering something I thought was impossible. Continue reading “Spread a Little Love”

Don’t Give Up

Don’t give up.

Don’t you dare quit.

We need you.

We need what’s in you and what you have to give. No one else can communicate it like you can.

No one else forms ideas like you do.

No one else creates what you create.

No one else.

No one.

So you better not quit.

When you quit, you’re not just quitting on you, you’re quitting on us. You’re quitting on what we need from you. Continue reading “Don’t Give Up”

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes!

[box options]Today’s guest post is by producer Jason Mundok from the Wood Stove House. WSH produces creative projects such as house concerts, theater events, and a weekly performing arts podcast called Around the Wood Stove. You can also find Wood Stove House on Twitter.[/box]

I had a big birthday last year. I turned 40 in September. I’ve always been a milestone guy when it comes to birthdays, but not in a big party or expensive trip kind of way; more in the introspective and reflective kind of way. A few months before that birthday I had a few life changing experiences and made a few very important realizations.

I’ll save those stories for another post, but the result was significant soul searching, deep conversations with close friends, and finally a decision to leave my very comfortable, very well paid, and very uninspiring I.T. management job to start a business focused on the performing arts. Continue reading “Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes!”

Why Your Dreams Die

Dear Me,

Hey you!

How ya doing?

In Day 1 you read a letter you wrote and then ripped the lie apart that you had a crappy life and nothing to offer. In Day 2, you wrote another letter and figured out just when you stopped working for yourself instead of just working for others.

At some point you fired yourself from your creativity and said ‘other people can make choices for me.”

So that brings us to today. Day 3. You’ve been through Day 1 and Day 2 of creativity boot camp for slugs. You might still be feeling a bit sluggy. Continue reading “Why Your Dreams Die”

Artist Date Vlog

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, suggests taking yourself on artist dates. The idea is to feed and refresh your artist.

Slow down. Try something new. Revisit something old.

Bryan Allain, author of 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo, suggests doing a video blog on occasion.

Don’t edit the video. Just be you. Toss it out to your readers.

The result of taking Cameron and Allain’s suggestions are the videos below.

4 Things I Learned

+My first take is usually better than the next few.

+I apparently have a cold with all the snot-snorting I do.

+Going on an artist date while vlogging is a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning.

+Downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a cool place.

Continue reading “Artist Date Vlog”

Where the Beauty Is (or Isn’t)

A few years ago Joshua Bell, a Grammy award-winning world class violinist, played a brief concert in a Washington DC subway for 43 minutes and made $32.17 in donations.

He usually makes around $1,000 per minute.

The Washington Post conducted the experiment. A short excerpt from the full article:

“His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?”

The 43 minute concert, played on Bell’s $3.5 million dollar Stradivarius, was captured on video…

Continue reading “Where the Beauty Is (or Isn’t)”

Setting the Stage to Experience Flow

[box options]Today’s guest post is by Jason Mundok at The Wood Stove House. I enjoyed working with him on a recent project, The 24 Hour Plays. Enjoy![/box]

Photo Credit: Ernest Koe

I was recently turned on to the psychology term “flow.”

It’s a mental state where a person is so completely immersed in an activity, they enter into a state of pure focus and concentration where time has no meaning and bodily needs are essentially ignored. I’m familiar with the concept from the more common descriptions like being in the zone or in the moment.

For creatives, “getting there” can be very challenging, and the lack of “being there” can prevent any motivation to engage in the creative process. But when it happens, hours slip by and productivity skyrockets. Stuff gets done and it feels great! I’m lucky enough to experience it occasionally, but like other creatives, I’d love for it to be way more often.

Continue reading “Setting the Stage to Experience Flow”

24 Hour Plays: Lessons in Fear, Control, and Joy

Why dive into a creative process involving fear, anxiety, the unknown, the uncontrollable?

The payoff is incredible. 

This past weekend, my wife and I participated in an event called 24 Hour Plays. Here’s the rundown of the events that transpire in a mere day at one of these creative explosions:

It’s an exercise in organized insanity in which writers, directors, and actors put their skill sets to the test: writing a short play, casting the play, directing the play, and performing the play in the time span of a mere 24 hours.

+Perfectionism. Most creatives are prone to it. It’s rarely helpful. For some of us, it keeps us from ever producing or sharing our creation. Within the time frame of 24 hours, perfectionism cannot dominate. There’s just no time to belabour the minutiae.

Bye bye non-friend.

+ Camaraderie. My creative process at my job usually involves training people to sell remodeling products to homeowners. It is creative, but I didn’t realize how much I’d missed the process of putting up an actual show. I marveled at the fact that the pros we worked with all spoke the same language. We understood the basics of each of our job functions and treated one another with respect. There’s such pleasure in rubbing shoulders with other like-minded creatives.

+Fear. 24 Hour Plays is skydiving. My mind’s conversation with myself went something like this: “8:30 AM. Here’s your script that was just written last night. You’ll play James. We’ll rehearse it today, have it memorized tonight for the show. By the way, we’re sold out. There’s gonna be people here asking for a show. So you gotta get this right. Did I say it has to be memorized? It does. Have fun!” When my wife and I were deciding if we should/should not do this, we realized the only reason we wouldn’t do it was because we were terrified. Not a good enough reason. We’re so glad we pushed through that fear.

+Payoff. Rachel Stevens, a former producer of The 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices summarizes it well.

You always see the most incredible personal and professional growth take place in the artists involved.  There’s great confidence to be taken from realising that, if you can do this project, you can do pretty much anything.

Agreed 100%.

I’d do this whole experience all over again for that very reason. It exhilarating to do something that, initially, seems impossible and slightly terrifying.

What’s stopping us from doing that thing we’ve always said we’d do? Why not push the envelope this week and write that piece, finish that project, or call that person?

Someone needs your creativity today.