Tag Archives: passion

In Which I Want To Be Creative But Don’t Do Creative Things

A few of you have noticed that I haven’t been blogging lately.  Thanks to those that have taken

asleep at the keyboard

When creative slumps attack

the time to say something.  I’m encouraged, knowing that I have some sort of audience.  It’s not that I don’t want to be creative, it’s just all of the hard work of DOING creative that gets in the way.

I guess you could say I’m in a bit of a creative slump.  I relate to Dan Harmon, creator of the sitcom “Community,” who recently blogged about the need for an outside stressor to motivate him in his creative writing pursuits:   ” . . . if nobody’s waiting to hear from you, why say anything, if you’re not saying anything, nobody’s listening, slipping you deeper and deeper into a creative coma.”

Dear reader, please don’t think I’m calling you “nobody” or dismissing you as not worth writing for.  It’s just that you don’t give me a paycheck.  You don’t fire me if I let a deadline slip a few days or months.  I’ve made myself the promise that “I’ll write a little something every day” countless times, but it’s just not working.  I always peter out.  Even though I dream of one day quitting my day job to write funny stuff professionally, I apparently don’t have enough internal motivation to take the small steps necessary to make that happen.

Interestingly, in some areas of my life, I have incredible willpower, and can just pull myself up by my bootstraps and make big changes without requiring external pressure.  Eating, for instance.  I’ve let myself go a few times, and have put on 20-30 extra pounds.  When I decide it’s time, I can instantly start eating better and shed the pounds at will.  I can resist desserts and high calorie temptations on my own without any special diet or food overlord.  Why don’t I have this kind of self-control when I comes to creative pursuits?

So, writers and creatives, I could use your input here.  What keeps you in the game?  What tricks have you learned to keep you on task?  So far the only ideas I’ve got are:

  1. Be a better person
  2. Quit my job and starve my family until I hit my stride and strike it rich as a sitcom writer

There!  I made it all the way to the end of a new post!  I shall reward myself with a cookie.

Overcoming fear of rejection by communicating desires

No Sale

When living in Detroit in the mid-nineties, we had a very strange experience with a door-to-door salesman.  We opened the door, and there stood a VERY enthusiastic young man with a bottle of citrus spray cleaner and a rag.  He animatedly (including some dance moves) jumped into his presentation:  “I have this amazing new cleaner that will clean anything! Let me show you!”  He proceeded to spray and wipe dirty surfaces within arm’s reach – our front door, a window, the corroded metal hand railing, and even my shoes.  He showed us that his cleaner was non-toxic by spraying some in his mouth.  He interjected his pitch with plenty of finger snaps, winks, high fives, and entertaining gimmickry. And you know what?  The stuff worked!  We probably would have bought a bottle, but when it came time to wrap up his pitch, he just smiled wide and said “Well, thanks for your time!  Have a nice day!”  He never asked for the sale!  He just danced his way to the next house on the block, fingers snapping to the tune in his head.

We stood there, semi-stunned, wondering if we had narrowly escaped a porch mugging.  More than likely, though, despite his confident exterior, he just lacked the nerve to commit and ask for the sale.  Maybe he was afraid of rejection.  Maybe he wanted us to beg him to come back.  I don’t know.  He didn’t follow through, and he lost the sale.

Speak Up

Speak up and overcome your fear of rejection

Speak up!

I still struggle with communicating my desires.  I assume the people around me, especially those closest to me, will be able to read my mind, or know me well enough to know what I want without me having to actually say it.  I’m often afraid that speaking my mind will lead to rejection, humiliation, or some form of demotion. This mentality can lead to some really damaging thoughts:  “Nobody understands me. Things will never change. I’m stuck in this situation, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ll just mope about until the skies part and drop opportunity in my lap.”  Like the spray cleaner salesman, I dance around and hint about my inner desires, but rarely truly express them in a way that lets people know I’m serious about making a change.

Are you keeping your desires and passions squashed down deep inside?  Is the “real you” ready to burst out, but only if the right moment presents itself?   If you’re serious about changing your circumstances, get serious about saying so.  Don’t let your fear of rejection keep you from speaking up.

Brian and Stormtrooper

Changing Careers – Making the big transition

This is my biggest question right now regarding changing careers:  How do I transition from a good paying secure job where I have marketable expertise into a totally new career field and still make ends meet?  I know that there are success stories out there, and I’d like to hear more of them.  I have 4 kids still at home, one preparing for college, and I’m the sole bread winner in the family.  There’s not a lot of wiggle room for me to take any kind of financial hit while shifting into a new career.  For now, I’m taking baby steps, like writing this blog, brainstorming creative ideas on the side, reading a lot from experts in fields that I’m interested in, which is probably the path on which I need to continue.

I’d love some feedback here.  Do you have success/failure stories about making a really big transition?  What helped?  What didn’t?  Who were your influences?  What kind of support network did you have?

Brian and Stormtrooper

Flossing, valleys, and beheading snakes – making the transition to a creative career

One night last week, I flossed my teeth.  And that’s when I knew that things were about to change.  Stick with me, it’ll make sense in a bit.

We all understand about valleys and mountains in life.  Some of us are better at managing our time in the valleys, while others might need reminders that the valley isn’t permanent, and that there are roads that lead to higher ground.  For the last year or two, I’ve been in a bit of a valley.  I’ve known all my life that I’m capable of greatness, but I’ve struggled with the execution, the discipline, the hard work needed to rise up and do something truly great.  I’m most comfortable in the valley, where there’s less chance for failure, and where falling down doesn’t hurt as much, as I’m already pretty close to the ground.  That’s not to say I haven’t had some success, and achieved some level of greatness in many areas in my life.  It’s just that many (maybe most?) of these successes have come fairly easily to me.  I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, I stopped working hard, stopped pursuing excellence, and settled for the mediocre.  It’s a comfortable, yet miserable existence.  I was made for better than this, and I know it.

So, I’m in this valley.  I feel stuck.  I’m 40 as of October 2012, and my résumé seems to indicate that I’m a fairly competent Information Technology professional, though I have no real passion for it.  I’m thankful to be working and providing for my family, but there are many other things I’d rather being doing as a career.  I sort of fell into this track back in the late 90’s, and really enjoyed it for the first several years.  I learned what made computers tick, solved difficult technical problems, and impressed others with my knowledge.  Then, at some point, the honeymoon was over, and I realized that I wanted out.  I wanted a career that made more use of the creative side of my brain before it atrophied.  BUT, I was the sole bread-winner in a family of six, and I didn’t want my wife or kids to worry about food or shelter while I “found myself,” so I stuck it out, tried to make the best of it.  I stayed in the same position at a small liberal arts college in rural Southern Illinois for over 10 years.  I really liked the people there, but grew less and less fond of the work I was doing.

Finally, I decided to take a risk and started looking for a new position in St. Louis (an hour commute each way).  Although I’d resigned myself to continuing on in a technical role, I thought that perhaps a change of scenery would help me.  Of course, it didn’t.  I mean, there were certainly bright spots, like getting to work in the marketing office for an upstart toy company, sharing offices and other resources with Build-A-Bear.  There, I had some great opportunities to exercise the creative side of my brain from time to time:  regular brainstorming sessions, occasional creative writing projects, sitting in on design walk-throughs for virtual world game development, but I was still in a largely technical role.  I worked in two other roles in St. Louis before returning to work for a local company in town as an IT Manager.

This valley is made up of more than just career woes.  I start things and don’t finish them.  I had an amazing opportunity to do some writing for a travel website this summer.  I wrote a couple of articles, and had 2-3 more assignments to go before I just stopped.  I got scared of failure or something, and just stopped responding to the editor.  I leave projects untouched all over our house.  Simple stuff, like changing out a light fixture in the bathroom to slightly bigger projects like leaving a hallway half painted for two years.  I get overwhelmed, and rather than do just a little something to attack a problem, I give in to fear or apathy, and find the path of least resistance.

Back to flossing.  I was standing in front of the mirror, evaluating myself.  What had I become?  Would I always be like this?  Was escape from the mundane even possible for me?  Did I deserve to ask such questions?  Shouldn’t I just be content with what I have and stop complaining?  I mean, there are plenty of people around me who are struggling to find ANY kind gainful employment, and I’m whining about some perceived lack of pleasure for eight hours of my blessed life.  I concluded that I could at least try to change direction.  I could chose to work hard.  I could take baby steps.  I could stop giving up and conceding.  I could begin to crawl out of this valley of OH MY GOSH IT’S PROBABLY BEEN A YEAR SINCE I FLOSSED MY TEETH WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU BRIAN!!!

So, I flossed.  It was something.  It was a small step, yes, but I felt like Neville Longbottom flying through the air and slashing the head off Voldemort’s snake.  Plaque and apathy be damned, I’m climbing back up out of this stupid valley.