Three Wishes When You Are Stuck In The Middle.

Via Seth Godin.

We all get stuck.

And it’s not always in mud with some friends to get us out, as in the playground game.

Normally, when we are in a creative ‘stuck’ there aren’t other people to ‘free’ us.

If you have a group of other creatives around you who can do this, then never let them get away from you – if they move city, so do you!

Seth Godin has the antidote to ‘stuck’ thankfully.

It is simple and priceless.

Read it in his own words.

I think you will agree – enough said . . .

. . . Now I’m off to do it!

Day 416 – Blank.

A blank page isn’t good. Writer’s Block. A failure in creativity.

A blank canvas is good. Prepped for those first sketch lines, that first application of paint. Then you layer until the image takes on form and is revealed.

Writing works in a similar way.

The blank page is waiting for those first words. That first layer onto which you will add or take away to reveal the completed image.

How much you add or take away is probably dependent upon your style.

The first rule of being creative is that you create – you have a blank then you add something to it.

So take that blank page, or screen, and throw some words at it.

Day 410 – Schedule.

There is a difference between an amateur and a professional in any endeavour.

Money isn’t the differentiating factor anymore. Both get paid; although you would expect the latter to receive more.

The professional is clear in what their job is. They have to meet specific expectations and everything else in their life works around those expectations and commitments.

The amateur has to fit those expectations and commitments around their actual day job. These are their add-ons.

With creatives, those add-ons can end up sacrificed to the circumstances of life and work.

So how do you solve this tension between probably being an amateur but wishing you were a professional.

The secret sauce is scheduling.

Any successful leader or entrepreneur will tell you that they live by what’s on their calendar. If it isn’t on the calendar then it doesn’t exist. Meetings, golf, family time, it is all in the diary.

If you are serious about your art and you want to make it into the professional leagues, then act like a professional.

You might only be brave enough to write up on the family planner for a twenty minute slot – but that’s fine.

7pm-7:20pm – In the Writing Cave – I can write with this pencil or use it as a prod/Painter armed and ready to paint the canvas or you!/Musician with Noise Cancelling Headphones – I can’t hear you even if you scream.

Scheduling also tells everyone else you are being serious about your art.

It also holds you accountable.

You’ve got twenty minutes – GO! – you don’t have time to waste.

You are a professional now, so act like it.

Make the Simple Awesomely Simple.

I came across this quote by the great Jazz musician Charlie Mingus today,

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” 

I’m not sure I’ve ever thought Bach was simple, however. He certainly made the complex seem effortless, but I’m not sure that is the same thing.

‘Making the simple, awesomely simple’, is the part which really caught my eye.

Take description.

Some writers tell you the hero walked down the street, others tell when the street first became a street and the whole biography of the person it was named after. I confess I veer towards the former rather than the later.

The truth is, anything you mention should move the story forward. If the name of the street is insignificant then why have it? Make it significant. Give it a name which is a clue to something in your story. If it is a real place then its significance is as a direction and you don’t need to elaborate.

I used to know a person called Louis. Guess which clothes designer he favoured? You got it, he had everything Louis Vuitton. I don’t need to describe any of the clothes now do I? You will have a clear picture of how Louis dressed. That’s awesomely simple.

Introducing me to your female violinist character might require some physical description but you don’t need to tell me how good they are at their job. All you need to tell me is that she plays a violin made by Gariel Stradivarius in 1717. Awesomely simple.

What about your plot? Keep it simple. Then use smoke and mirrors to hide that simplicity. Star Wars is a very simple story. Young man becomes part of a fight between good and evil, seems simple enough doesn’t it?

How about this version – young bloke falls in love with a woman he has never met and finds she is being held prisoner by his dad. Or this version – young man gains a mentor who encourages him to fight a foe which he knows to be his father.

Awesomely simple – good guy battles bad guy – the rest is the smoke and mirrors.

So keep everything you write simple – awesomely simple.