Creative work "everyday system"?

An everyday system, TM, is a simple, commonsense solution to an everyday problem, grounded by a pun or metaphor. Propose/discuss new systems here.
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larisa0001
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Creative work "everyday system"?

Post by larisa0001 » Tue Apr 26, 2005 6:23 am

I apologize for besieging this board with questions, but I'm absolutely delighted that someone out there is also thinking the way I do about "everyday systems" - and not only thinking this way, but creating a website for it. I've been thinking this way all my life, but I always thought I was the only one.

I understand that "Shovelglove" and the "Urban Ranger" systems are solutions for sloth, but there are other kinds of sloth. I'm at present trying to force myself to write music. I have some talent and some training in that direction, but no self-discipline. Is there a "system" out there for forcing oneself to do creative work?

Yes, I know that the world can get by without music written by me, and that music composition is entirely optional, but I don't like not writing music. It makes me feel incomplete. I would love to gaze upon an opera written by me - and I'm about 30% of the way into an operatic project. It's been stuck at 30% for the past 5 years, and I'd like to do something about it, finally. I'm rather disgusted with myself for not finishing it.

LM

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reinhard
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Post by reinhard » Tue Apr 26, 2005 7:29 pm

I'm not remotely qualified to speak as an artist, but I know that many of the great artists were not at all flighty "artistic" types, but extremely disciplined individuals. You kind of have to be; it's like being an entrepreneur, except harder: not only is there no boss, there may be no client for years (a lifetime, even, for some of the greats). That's a lot of absent pressure that you need to make up for somehow. Thomas Mann, to take one example, had a meticulously regulated day. No one, not even his kids, were allowed to bug him during his allotted writing time.

With all due reverence for Thomas Mann, I think for creative types in a less lofty position setting output goals rather than time restraints would be more effective. Rather than saying "I'm going to write my score for n hours a day between the hours of x and y," say "I'm going to produce a draft of a scene by next month" or "an aria by Friday." An opera is a big thing! But it has parts. Smaller parts means more attainable goals, you can always keep a carrot dangling in front of you. With time restraints, you can succeed and still fail (spend the time but not productively). With "product" goals, at least you have something. It may not be great or even good, but it might be. There's no chance that nothing will be.

The other thing I'd suggest is go social with it. Find someone who shares your passion and (ideally) is working on something of their own. Bouncing stuff off a friend is enormously helpful, I think, and should be satisfying in itself. Every artist wants an audience, and here at least is an audience of one. Since the relationship is reciprocal, you don't have to feel guilty about sucking up their time. Don't know anyone local? Poke around the net. Everybody's local now.

These two pieces of advice are not entirely unrelated. By breaking stuff into small, attainable parts, you'll have something to share, not just a murky concept. And the expectations of another, however friendly, are a great spur to attain the next part, and the next.

(Computer cum creative types: think "iterative development")

Another great thing about the internet is even if what you wind up with isn't going to make it to the Met, it doesn't have to be doomed to complete obscurity. Put what you can get together up on a website and kindred spirits, with a little help from google, can enjoy it. For the first time in history something that appeals to just one in a million can get to that one in a million. I'm no artist, but I find that consideration hugely inspiring. It's what encouraged me to put my vastly more mundane stuff together (I wouldn't call these sites art, but they are a creative product of sorts), and I've been very happy with the response.

Sorry if I'm out of my depth here, you asked for it!
Last edited by reinhard on Wed Apr 27, 2005 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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sandie
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Post by sandie » Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:11 am

I agree on the discipline, my husband is a writer and when I married him I thought it very strange that he could set aside so many hours a day just for writing, go in his office, close the door and get it done. Normally you don't think of artists that way.

At that time I painted, so I started working the same way, it does work. So much for waiting for the creative juices to flow :shock:
Sandie

larisa0001
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true...

Post by larisa0001 » Fri Apr 29, 2005 5:20 am

And now that I think about it, when I was a piano accompanist at a ballet school, I had no trouble improvising dance music for 1.5 hours at a time, twice a week. It was all different; I had to make it fit the dancers' movements, and suit the mood of the dance, etc etc etc. Somehow, "inspiration" or the lack thereof was never an issue.

Maybe I should try the same thing with the opera. Just set a time twice a week when I should do this, rain or shine. Even if it's godawful tripe, at least it'll be finished godawful tripe.

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Post by Samurai » Sun May 01, 2005 2:31 am

Reinhard, I love your comment, "Poke around the net. Everybody's local now."

Awesome, and so true!
One should not be envious of someone who has prospered by unjust deeds. Nor should he disdain someone who has fallen while adhering to the path of righteousness. - Imagawa Sadayo (1325-1420)

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Post by larisa0001 » Mon May 02, 2005 11:02 pm

Samurai wrote:Reinhard, I love your comment, "Poke around the net. Everybody's local now."

Awesome, and so true!
It really is. Especially when I think about my small business - I've very consciously set it up so that it would not matter where I am, physically. My email address is the same and so is my cell-phone number (and my 800 number - that's also portable). I've taken business phone calls from a ski lift, and answered email in a Costa Rica rainforest. I love the Internet.

LM

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Re: Creative work "everyday system"?

Post by brownstudy » Thu Jun 09, 2005 2:36 am

larisa0001 wrote:Is there a "system" out there for forcing oneself to do creative work?
Look for a book called THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield (he wrote THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE, I think). It's mainly geared to writers suffering blockage, but can be a template for any artist or office worker who's procrastinating.

The two things he does that leaps to mind are 1) setting a ritual prior to work that gets you in the frame of mind. He recites to himself a prayer to the muses. 2) Treating yourself like a professional artist. Professionals produce, amateurs dabble (I'm oversimplifying horribly). Professionals can't wait for inspiration for strike.

I'm aiming to produce more fiction, and wondered to myself, a la Reinhard, what has worked in the past? What hasn't? Daydream about it for a while. See what your daydream images look like. I decided to handwrite my stuff in a spiral notebook (composing at the computer seemed too...official). And I have a goal of 2 pages/day, freewriting. I can usually churn them out in about an hour.

Also remember Anne Lamott's advice in BIRD BY BIRD--give yourself permission to write shitty first drafts. No one writes a masterpiece on the first go, unless they have about 20 yrs experience banked up.

Sorry for the long msg. It's a topic that's been on my mind this year.
Mike Brown

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Post by reinhard » Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:30 pm

Here's the amazon link to The Art of War. It looks pretty excellent, from the reviews, and if you click on the look inside the book blurb at the top it's interesting (for us here) to note that "any diet or health regimen" is number three on his list of enterprises (like art) that "elicit resistance."

I've made an absurdly ambitious monthly resolution this month (especially given that I made it mid-month) to find a literary agent for the nosdiet manifesto, so I guess you could say I'm actively in the market for this kind of advice. Thanks, Mike! I think I just might pick up this book.

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Post by brownstudy » Sun Jun 12, 2005 3:50 am

reinhard wrote:I've made an absurdly ambitious monthly resolution this month (especially given that I made it mid-month) to find a literary agent for the nosdiet manifesto, so I guess you could say I'm actively in the market for this kind of advice. Thanks, Mike! I think I just might pick up this book.
Reinhard -- happy to have pointed the book out to you. It's really excellent (see if your local library has it first). You'll find it a very quick read.

Have you thought about publishing No S as an e-book? Yes, finding a publisher would be quite a challenge in a month. Esp since publishers (bec they're now owned by multi-corporate-conglomerated-triglycerides) would I think be shy about publishing a diet by someone who has no celebrity clients, a TV show, or M.D. after his name. Legal considerations, I mean.

But I think packaging your manifesto as an ebook means you can update the book at will, the control rests in your hands (as does the liability), and it would take up even more of your vanishing free time than your sites and fora now do. Are you convinced yet? :)

I have no idea of how to go about this, but you've got pretty good word-of-mouth already and your No S page is pretty much the book as is. Get it on the Google Ad rondelay and see what happens.

Regards,
Mike Brown

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reinhard
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Post by reinhard » Mon Jun 13, 2005 4:07 pm

I just ordered the audiobook version of "War of Art" from my library (they've got a great web based intralibrary loan request system).

I'll look into the ebook thing. I've never actually read an ebook, so I have a little trouble imagining that (or why) anyone does... but maybe I've just been hopelessly out of it. It does seem like it would be relatively easy to get together. No reason I couldn't pursue it in parallel (except that I barely have enough time to sleep right now).

The other thing I've been considering is publishing through cafepress. The result would be overpriced and probably less than professional looking, but at least there's no investment required. And it might help, especially if I could actually sell a few, in making my case to a conventional publisher.

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Jammin' Jan
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Post by Jammin' Jan » Mon Jun 13, 2005 4:59 pm

Barnes and Noble used to have a self-publishing venue called "i Universe." It required very minimal investment, and you could market through bn.com and also get placement in the stores. Haven't looked at this recently, so I don't know if they still are doing this.

My son self-published three books through www.lulu.com. No investment, but you have to do all your own distribution.

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Post by margaret » Fri Jun 17, 2005 9:27 pm

feel free to use my posts in your book.(change the address, my town only has 900 people - so someone would figure it out)...why don't you do a study, a questionnaire of sorts of your regulars. I'll be a guiana pig and maybe my sister will, too.
But, remember, part of the fun of this is the underground aspect of it all. She says after being involved for 18 hours.
The Celestine Prohecy was originally self-published.
"E're she looked for the good, e're she found it.
Annie May Quigg 1891-1996

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Post by reinhard » Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:04 am

Jan, thanks for the tips. I'll check these out and compare with cafepress.

Margaret, I wish I were in a position to have to worry about selling out and preserving my "underground" image -- alas, no offers yet! Thanks for the vote of confidence and offer of help.

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Self-publishing

Post by brownstudy » Tue Jun 28, 2005 1:37 am

reinhard wrote:Jan, thanks for the tips. I'll check these out and compare with cafepress.
Reinhard -- found this article from lifehacker.com that pertains to peoples' experiences with self-publishing. More food for thought. Chew thoroughly.

http://www.lifehacker.com/software/life ... 100295.php
Mike Brown

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Post by reinhard » Wed Jun 29, 2005 3:50 pm

Thank you, Mike. This is very helpful. It looks like my "find a publlisher" resolution is going to have to spill over into July. It was a little insane to think I'd be able to get it done in a couple of weeks (it's still insane, but less so). I'm not sure why I though the biggest monthly resolution I ever made wouldn't even take a full month. I've also modified the resolution a bit to make it more specific and completely within my power to perform: write and send out the proposal, work on it every day at least a bit until it's done. I got a number of books on the subject and feel pretty confident. If no one bites (I might as well give the big boys a chance), then I'll go with one of these no-money down self publishing options.

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Post by JWL » Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:40 am

reinhart, if you decide to self-publish, I'd be interested in talking to you about editing/proofreading/typesetting. I do this sort of work on the side, but only for projects I really believe in. But one of the things that drew me to first shovelglove and then ES was your writing style. There's a lot to work with there. You're a good writer!
JWL[.|@]Freakwitch[.]net

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Post by JWL » Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:44 am

I think that everyday discipline is important for any kind of creative work. Yes, you can wait for inspiration to strike and for the creative juices to flow, but this happens much more easily if you give them regular (pref daily) opportunities to do so.

Stephen King wrote similar ideas in his book, On Writing, which I highly recommend for writers. Some very meaty ideas in there, plus it's always a pleasure to read Mr. King.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm a fellow Mainer....
JWL[.|@]Freakwitch[.]net

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Post by reinhard » Fri Jul 15, 2005 4:57 pm

Freakwitch, thanks for the offer. I really may take you up on it...

Mike, I finished "war of art." There were things I liked: all the references to ancient greece (including my friend Xenophon), the humor, the directness and brevity, the soulfulness. And things I didn't: the denigration of amateurism, which seems very inconsistent to me in someone so influenced by the Greeks.

It changed my mind about output goals vs. time restraints. For a web site, which can evolve "live" right after you put a little bit up, output goals (or ad hoc dabbling) are fine. But for something more monolithic (like this darn proposal I'm working on), I think I'm going to need time constraints, or I'll never sit down and do it.

So thanks! It was a pleasure and a help. I'm only 4 days into time constraints, but it's working a hell of a lot better than what I was doing before. I don't have a lot of time to constrain (it's so distracting having a family, dayjob, and vanity web sites! :wink: ), but even with just a daily minimum of 30 minutes I'm making progress. Side effects: you may have notice my posting volume to this board has gone down a bit...

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Creativity

Post by Prodigalsun » Mon Jul 25, 2005 9:30 pm

Another great book on writing and creativity is by Brenda Ueland. It's called "If you want to write." It was written in the 30's. two things stood out to me:

1. set asside time each day AT THE SAME TIME to work at your art. That way, your body and mind get used to the rhythm of "it's 5 am, now it is time to create."

2. She also espoused Urban Rangering, taking long walks to occupy the body, leaving the mind freed up to think creatively. She espoused walking with purpose, but not as fast as you could go.
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Re: Creative work "everyday system"?

Post by harpista » Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:34 am

larisa0001 wrote:I apologize for besieging this board with questions, but I'm absolutely delighted that someone out there is also thinking the way I do about "everyday systems" - and not only thinking this way, but creating a website for it. I've been thinking this way all my life, but I always thought I was the only one.

I understand that "Shovelglove" and the "Urban Ranger" systems are solutions for sloth, but there are other kinds of sloth. I'm at present trying to force myself to write music. I have some talent and some training in that direction, but no self-discipline. Is there a "system" out there for forcing oneself to do creative work?

Yes, I know that the world can get by without music written by me, and that music composition is entirely optional, but I don't like not writing music. It makes me feel incomplete. I would love to gaze upon an opera written by me - and I'm about 30% of the way into an operatic project. It's been stuck at 30% for the past 5 years, and I'd like to do something about it, finally. I'm rather disgusted with myself for not finishing it.

LM
This is an ancient post (relatively) but have you tried the system in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way (and several sequels that get more in depth)?

larisa0001
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Well, I guess something worked...

Post by larisa0001 » Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:07 am

It is a relatively ancient post - and what worked for me (sorry Reinhart!) was not any kind of "everyday system", but a new challenge. In the past 2 years, I started getting interested in ragtime piano music - joined a ragtime society, started playing it a lot, and eventually, began to write my own rags. It suddenly got very easy to compose music - and here is the result:

www.geocities.com/ragtimelarisa/music.html

Yes, it's my very first CD. (I'm so proud!)

The other thing that did it, I think, is the encouragement from others - it's the first time my work has ever been performed in public, and that really helped.

LM

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Post by gratefuldeb67 » Sat Sep 02, 2006 7:12 pm

Hi Larissa!!!
Welcome back and long time no see!!!
I was very happy to see that you've done your ragtime album!!!
I'm listening to the first cut on your download page!
Fun stuff!!!

And what a great title for the album!!!!!!
Awesome sense of humor!!!
Hmmm I may just have to shell out to hear the Gefilte Fish Rag!!!

Keep spreading the joy and vibes Eu(bie!)!!!
Heh heh..

Oh that reminds me, not to be too self promoting, but a long while back you asked me if I had anything online to listen to yet, so I'll take the opportunity now to just say yes I do.. I now have two pages of me fooling around with a microphone and a guitar just plugged into my computer.. Nothing professional, but still shows some of my tunes!
They are here:

www.myspace.com/debstardivine

and my twin sister site

www.myspace.com/souldebel

Take care!
Peace and Love,
8) Deb
There is no Wisdom greater than Kindness

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reinhard
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Post by reinhard » Mon Sep 11, 2006 2:05 pm

Hi Larissa,

Great to see you here again! And with such a solution to your problem!

Systematic or not, congratulations!

Any chance you'll put up little mp3 audio samples?

Reinhard

larisa0001
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Post by larisa0001 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:55 pm

Well... since you asked.... <blushing wildly> Here goes:

www.geocities.com/ragtimelarisa/music.html

This was recorded in my living room, so I apologize in advance for the sound quality.

LM

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