So if the work you are creating demands completion before you can find fulfillment, it’s doubtful the creation will be finished, and perhaps more doubtful it will be any good when it’s done. You’ll labor through it, pushing it up a hill like a broken cart. But if you can love the actual work, not the finished product, you’re on to something. If you have a rhythm, if you get up every morning and work for a few hours, and you like the getting up and the work, and you don’t think about how great it will be when it’s done, but rather how great it is every day that you get to get up and do the work, your creation will be tremendous. Don’t think about the finished product. Stop rewarding yourself with something that doesn’t exist, and may never exist. Instead, think about how delightful it is you get to do this, you get to make this, and how delightful it will be to get up and do it again tomorrow.
Caught The Civil Wars at their Portland show las month, just down the street at a renovated funeral home called The Woods. Great, sold out show. I think a lot of us felt like we were seeing them “before” they became huge. They were terrific. Sometimes it’s obvious a band has peaked with their first release, but with The Civil Wars, it feels more obvious their very best will be rolled out year after year. I loved this cryptic cover of You Are My Sunshine. Enjoy The Civil Wars:
Instead of committing to lose weight this year or write that book, simply commit to do the work. Five days a week you are going to write, who cares whether a book comes of it or not. Five days a week you’ll walk two miles, or you’ll cut your carbs down to whatever. If you want to be more grateful this year, then break that down into something you can do, and commit to that. Every Thursday you’ll write somebody a thank-you card. Do you want to be more professional? Commit to shaving every day (Please. Especially if you are in your twenties, because while you think it looks novel and unique, it actually looks like an identity crisis and it’s costing you) and sending your clothes to the dry cleaner once a month. And add to that finish the work you’re supposed to finish. Want to find romance? Commit to asking a girl out once a week (talk to Henry Cloud if you think that’s too much) or, if you’re a girl, put yourself on a dating site on the internet and say yes when you get asked out. Don’t commit to an idea, commit to a tangible act [...]
Last month Tom Hooper released his movie The King’s Speech, written by David Seidler. The film tells the story of King George VI, played by Colin Firth, who took the throne a short time before World War II, before Churchill became Prime Minister and while Hitler was amassing power. England, indeed the free world needed a King, a statesman, and while George VI had moral fortitude, he also had a stammer. He’d be the first king to broadcast his voice widely on the radio, and at a time when all of England would be in need of comfort and resolution. And so the story of The King’s Speech involves George VI and his unlikely friendship with a failed, Australian actor named Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush. Logue is sought out by George IV and his wife to help the soon-to-be King through his oratory problems. A critical scene in the movie takes place near the end, when Logue is walking George VI through the paces of the crowning ceremony. They are alone in Westminster Abbey. George VI is stammering through his lines, gets up from the throne and throws a tantrum, stuttering on about how the people need a [...]
I think half the battle of a creator is in finishing their projects. I wonder how many of the worlds greatest creators never created anything great, because while they may have had the intelligence and even the skill, they weren’t finishers. Finishing is part of the art. A guy I met once ran into Norman Mailer at an airport and asked him what he was working on. Mailer politely declined to answer the question, saying that when he talks about a book too much, it steals his motivation to write it. I agree with Mailer, and I also think it was a brilliant way to get out of answering a question most writers are asked fifty-thousand times a day! Regardless of his intention, it’s true that when we talk about our work, we give ourselves the feeling that we are working on something when truthfully, we aren’t. If you sat down with a pen and paper and counted the hours you’ve been working on your project, would the number be embarrassing? Lets stop talking about our work over coffee with friends. We can talk plenty about it when it’s done.
My two favorite books are Catcher in the Rye and A Moveable Feast. Both are books with elusive plots, which is interesting since I often maintain story is everything, but I confess I rarely read books for story or even content, I read for style. I can hear the critics chiming now style is content…I know, I know, what I mean is I read to see how a writer handled their subject, not to learn about the subject. But that’s hardly what this post is about. This post is about romantic trickery, and how easy it is for a creator to get caught up in the romanticism of a life that hardly exists. The allure of Catcher and Feast rest in the easy lilt of the prose, and perhaps in the subtext that one can be unemployed, ride around in taxi’s, flirt with girls at clubs, smoke pipes in cafes in Paris, drive around with F. Scott Fitzgerald, bet a little on the horses and not have any bad days. I picked up Feast in the airport in Boston. The older, black woman at the counter clutched her heart when I set it on the counter. It’s his best, she [...]
“One of the things I love about this place is the ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) methodology. We try to create an atmosphere here where creative people are free to share their opinions about things. If somebody has an idea about a shot, they say it. And when people are honest about what they think, the work is better.” -John Knoll, Visual Effects Supervisor, ILM I heard this quote recently while watching a documentary about Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects company that pioneered CGI and other technologies that work together to create movies such as Star Wars and Avatar and hundreds of movies in between. ILM spun off Pixar, another creatively free environment that gives their storytellers years to create their narratives. The quote struck me, though, because of what John Knoll said about ILM is true for any creative environment. One of the reasons a community can fail to be creative is if thought is over policed. Here are some things to remember: 1. Many pioneering creators who’s work have lasted centuries, including Michelangelo himself, were often enemies of established communities. For Michelangelo it was both the church and the state, though both loved and hated him, [...]
So when I was a kid I played the Tuba. Our high school band was renowned throughout the state of Texas as one of the best. We were forced to practice for hours. I played the Tuba and took lessons from a local classical tubist. We really got into it. Our hero was a guy named Roger Bobo, the greatest living tuba player alive, and the only tuba player to ever solo on late-night television. I’ve also included a little master-class lesson from Mr. Bobo. Enjoy Roger Bobo:
I traveled recently with Derek Webb, who I greatly admire. We spent about a week on a bus in a traveling circus with Robbie Seay, who was shot out of a canon, and myself, who juggled plates, and Derek who put a knife through an apple sitting atop his wife Sandra’s head. It was a great week. Nobody was hurt. Anyway, I found it interesting how Derek lives his life regarding communication. Derek is a humble, honest, non-showy kind of person. He is who he is and there is no pretense. He is brutally honest with his fans on twitter and in his music. That said, he ticks a lot of people off. He shares how he is feeling and if he changes his mind he says that he changed his mind and has no problem with the change. If it’s raw honesty you are looking for, follow Derek. Another friend I greatly admire is Max Lucado. If you are wondering if Max really is as genuine as he seems, then I’ll tell you he is. He’s my hero, in many ways. Max’ philosophy about blogs and twitter and for that matter, his own tongue, is not not to say [...]