Every time I bump into a friend I haven’t seen for awhile, each one asks me how my book is coming along. You have no idea how grateful I am for that question! Because I know I’m going to be asked, it just lights additional fires underneath my a$$ in terms of accountability to a process I announced with the Internet’s version of a squawking megaphone to the world. I usually know my last word count in relationship to the 60K words I’m trying to conquer for a decent length book. Doing anything creative is far more than declaring your next project. It takes a roadmap of actions, a schedule, and motivation to get from Point A (the thought to create) to Point B (actually creating), and there’s this hungry Animal inside of you that needs to be fed. While you’re supposed to working on your creative project, you still have to feed this hungry Animal, which needs lots of attention, artistic input, and practical guidance to help that Animal release itself into your project. How do you do that when you’ve holed yourself in your art studio, music studio, or office? How do you feed your creative Animal?
Snacks That Fuel Creativity
While there comes a time to turn off most input, it’s usually when that input is going to distract you what you already know you need to do. When you don’t quite know what to do to get started, a little inspiration is always helpful. How many of you partake in these activities just before a creative hour of work:
- watch a film
- read a chapter from a book
- listen to music
- attend a music concert the night before
- watch a dance performance
- go dancing
- take a moderate to vigorous run
- engage in a session of moderate Yoga
- cook an amazing meal
- take a half dozen to two dozen photographs
- physically write something or draw something
- flip through an art book
- read poetry out loud
- scan the latest photographs from National Geographic
- breeze through Pinterest design boards
I find that if I want to write for three hours, I often have to dedicate about an hour beforehand to a seemingly unrelated activity. When I don’t, I can write — but I admit, I often find myself second-guessing and editing myself before I can commit text to page. Compared to the writing that comes after I’ve finished a run or dance practice (and showered and had a snack!), my creative Animal is ready and rearing to go, confident and energized.
Food At Your Fingertips
One of my struggles with feeding my creative Animal is that she’s really ravenous! She could devour several films a day, chow on a dance performance for dessert, and spritz herself with poetry from evening to dawn. Not only would that be an expensive habit, but it would also be very time-consuming to curate and process that kind of creative diet. Here’s where the Internet can be your friend (and mine).
1. Use an Internet Reader. I use Google Reader, and I subscribe to artistic feeds via RSS (that orange icon with three white frequency waves on it). The reader collects all the posts from your favorite feeds, such as photography, film, poetry, design, photography, or dance. When it’s time to feed your creative Animal, just check out you Reader, turn on the timer, and spend 15-20 minutes scanning your feed.
2. Use Compressed Media. While we get tired of bloggers using unrelated linkbait (provocative words in title or first 125 words in an article used to attract trending traffic to a blogpost), you can collect sites that tend to have good curators and writers who do not use linkbait. Line up the best on a media platform, such as Youtube.com, to create what I call Compressed Media. In my case, I use my Sony Google tv, which has settings to assign applications to my home screen. Instead of going through local TV stations, I assign a silent home page filled with my chosen applications, click on the one I want, and watch/listen to compressed media to help stimulate thought-provoking questions and story lines. It’s like creating your own LeanBack from a variety of sources.
3. Rent a performance. Many performance Companies are exploring new delivery systems to reach their target audiences. If you are in the midst of a project, it’s unlikely you have the time (or money!) to spend on expensive tickets or an extra hour on both ends of a performance to get dressed, catch a cab or park a car, and sit for a performance with an intermission designed to encourage you to buy food and wine. Why not try renting a performance?
OnTheBoards TV based in Seattle, WA has nearly doubled its subscribers over the past two years. Not only have they used film to help educate people on dance throughout the nation, they also have subscribers who watch the performances for an entire year for just $50! Ladies and gentleman, you will pay more for one ticket to see a decent opera than the subscribers fee for an entire year. Check out the film quality through a performance I saw this year by Zoe|Juniper, A Crack In Everything. Rent per film is about $5, if you’d prefer something more a la carte.
On the same note, Seattle Opera debuted its first free simulcast of Madama Butterfly at the Key Arena to 8,000 viewers. I am suspecting Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, and other opera companies will seek to make simulcasts available like instant streaming for less cost, allowing you to eventually view it from your own home. And if you think it’s not as good as being there, the answer to that is: it depends. If all you could afford were the $60 seats in the nosebleed section, you’ll be wishing you had a camera closeup view instead of dorky opera glasses. Simulcasts give you close ups and views that even the front row seats may not get.
4. FaceTime is the New F2F. Now that Skype has revealed its hand and direction in monetizing itself for business by selling your contact info, I can say it again that I prefer the resolution on Facetime with Retina Display. How can you feed your creative Animal with FaceTime? Well, call up your artist buddies over Wi-Fi, and ask them to show you yours if you show yours to them… erm… you know I am talking about your art! Read an excerpt from your writing project, play the first two minutes of that music track, and share a photo or two.
Already, serious artists are using these sharing tools for collaboration. Isn’t it time you learned to use the tools to keep your feet planted under a creative waterfall? I always say, when the going gets tough, lean hard on your friends. And they will lean on you. The fun thing with creativity is that this leaning process doesn’t feel heavy; it inspires you to keep creating.
Which reminds me… time to watch a film for a little inspiration on my creative project. What will you do to feed your creative Animal? Please feel free to share your comments so that others can learn from you.
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