How to be Creative

I thought this was interesting enough to share with everyone.

How to be Creative

1. Ignore everybody.
2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.
3. Put the hours in.
4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.
5. You are responsible for your own experience.
6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
7. Keep your day job.
8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.
11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.
12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.
14. Dying young is overrated.
15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.
16. The world is changing.
17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.
18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.
19. Sing in your own voice.
20. The choice of media is irrelevant.
21. Selling out is harder than it looks.
22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.
24. Don?t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
25. You have to find your own schtick.
26. Write from the heart.
27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.
28. Power is never given. Power is taken.
29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.
30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.
31. Remain frugal.

Ann Arbor is a Whore!!!

The Countdown Begins....

Getting a Little Perspective

This past week has been very busy and very stressful. For a moment, I wondered if I am putting too much stress on myself. I am, after all, trying to finish up my second draft of the novel by the end of the year. Not to mention the reading and the grammar. My life consists of working 8-9 hour days, coming home cooking dinner and working another two to three on personal writing career. It doesn't leave time for much else. I keep thinking, "If I am this busy now, how will I ever be able to manage this and a family?" then I think, that is why I am doing this now...So that I work fulltime as a writer later. The timeline helps keep me focused. It's hard to slack off, when you're on the clock.

On Friday I was really stressed out. I let it creep over into the weekend and I shouldn't have, but sometimes you can't help it. Then today I remembered that God doesn't put you in situations that you can't handle. I know you're probably surprised to hear that coming out of my mouth. I don't even go to church regularly. But I strongly, fervently believe that everything happens for a reason. Every single time I have suffered something good has come out of it. Even the scars that I still carry, they make me the compassionate, intelligent and witty person that I am. People who have never fallen have never tried. Life is about getting bruises. Love is about getting hurt.

So today I had lunch with someone who reminded me just how lucky I am. Frederick is a young man from Rwanda. Same age as me he survived genocide, lost both of his arms and lived on the streets. Now he is a painter, a photographer, a teacher, the founder of an international non-profit organization (NGO) and big brother. He tells me that sometimes he gets nervous about having so much responsibility, but if he doesn't do it, who will. He believes in giving back. He was able to come to the US and get Prosthetics in 2002. Not everyone in his country is as lucky. He teaches individuals with disabilities to become a functioning part of society. He brings them off the streets, provides food and shelter, and most importantly an education.

Frederick talks about the genocide in Rwanda. He speaks of the movie Hotel Rwanda and says that it is not truth, that in reality, what happened was more violent, more horrible than anything they could show. He asked me how I felt when I saw it. My answer? Angry, very, very angry. I was angry because I had no real idea what was going on at the time. I was embarrassed that we as a country didn’t do more to aid them. I was 12/13 and was ignorant to things like that, living in a very sheltered world. The fact that it was almost ten years later before I even learned about it, angered me more. Frederick and I were the same age. He should not have had to endure the things that he has. He should not have had to grow up so fast.

I sat with Frederick and remembered that just as he has been given a gift and is meant to do certain things. So am I. It is foolish to believe that it will be easy. Just like everything else in life, if it were easy, we wouldn't bother. I've always been two steps ahead, too focused on the next phase to enjoy the one I'm in. Maybe it's time I focused on the now and what I can to today.

What I'm Reading

Written By: Natsuo Kirino

Be the Better Writer

I don’t know if it is the winding down of the fall season, the gearing up for NaNoWriMo or the finishing of the first draft of my novel, but I am little miss productive this month. I have set some major goals for myself, cranking out revisions and chugging down novels. I have even taken on a personal quest with grammar, forcing myself to do 30 minutes of dedicated study. I started out basic, because, well…where else are you going to start. I am having a lot of fun (here’s the part when you say, “man, she must be a born writer if she thinks this stuff is fun!”). Well I am. I can’t help myself. I bought this Kaplan workbook from Borders for five bucks and it is great. It has pre-tests and post-tests. It gives you’re the definition, form and function of each component and then has exercises and mini tests to help you practice. Now that I have finished the first unit, I find myself picking up magazine articles, and novels and diagramming sentences. Who knew it could be so much fun?

I have other goals too. I do 500 words a day. It may not seem like much, but if you do 500 words a day you can have two 90,000 word manuscripts completed by the end of the year. That is progress. Of course, it is not always good. That doesn’t include time for revisions, editing etc. On a good day, I crank right past that 500 word limit, but on a bad day…well, sometimes it is just enough to know that I sat down at the computer. Progress is progress.

Then there is my reading. I have so many books on my shelves that I need to dive into. I put reading on hold while I was trying to crank out the last half of my novel. It was too distracting and sometimes my characters and tone will bleed into the books that I am reading. I have a much harder time finding my own voice. So now I get to read! I read Charlaine Harris’s latest novel. Not my favorite. Right now I am reading a novel by a Japanese author. I will post the name and title later, because I cannot remember it off the top of my head.

But that is not all I am doing. I have an assignment that I must complete after finishing each book. I am doing sample query letters. I am a little nervous about it. They are not easy to write, but I need the practice. I can’t very well right 50 novels so that I can practice writing 50 queries. I have yet to decide if I will do the synopsis as well.

One busy bee. That is what I am.

Fortune Magazine: Understanding Greatness

I read a fabulous article on greatness the other day in Fortune magazine and I am going to encourage all of you to read it at Secrets of greatness: Practice and hard work bring success - October 30, 2006 .

The entire magazine is about excellence and people who have done great things. But this article in particular was fascinating. I have read similar articles researching this very phenomenon. What makes certain people great? Is it talent or practice? Is it something you are simply born with or can anyone become successful? For point of clarification here, I am not talking successful as in, “makes a decent amount of money, lives in a nice home and drives a nice car”. I’m talking household name successful. What makes a Michael Jordan, a Tiger Woods, and a Martha Stewart (Criminal record excluded)? How does one business: Microsoft, Apple, Wal-Mart…become great and another one file for bankruptcy?

I have always been fascinated with leadership, and for the businesses I believe the top executive plays a huge role. So what makes those leaders, those individuals better at business than others? What leads to greatness?

The article starts by looking at the ten year rule, reporting that 99% of the time case studies will show that the… bestselling author, computer guru, business tycoon, Olympic athlete—pick your favorite—had at minimum 10 years of dedicated practice (a.k.a. hard work) prior to becoming successful. It’s the difference between being good at something, and being great.

The rule even holds true in pop culture. Pick a celebrity, a rock star, an actress…Jennifer Lopez. She was acting in Selena…she was a back up dancer for Janet Jackson, she was a choreographer and dancer on In Living Color…all before she had her first album come out started making multimillion dollar movies and became the infamous j-lo. Go back even farther…she talks about taking dance lesson every day, being poor and never giving up on her dream. It all equals 10 plus years.

Another example is Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey. Suddenly he’s everywhere, adorning the covers of Cosmo and TV guide. Just say McDreamy and people know who you’re talking about. But his credits go back to 1985. Dempsey’s appeared in numerous TV movies, sitcoms and dramas (The Practice and Will & Grace), and even some popular films like Scream 3 (2000), and Sweet Home Alabama (2002). That’s ten plus years.

Even the young ones have paid their dues. Tiger Woods was a toddler when he started to play golf. Pop Stars Brittney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake were all paid entertainers before hitting puberty. Some will argue that it was their innate talent that allowed them to master their craft so early. But talent alone cannot be enough. If any one of these people had given up before the 10 year mark, they would not be famous. Those who do seem to sprout up out of no where…look ten years into the future…do you even remember their names? This is the difference between a one hit wonder, an average or good person getting their seven seconds of fame and true greatness.

The other good point the article makes is that time is not enough. Remember the old saying, “practice makes perfect,”? This is perhaps the most interesting of everything studies on greatness have found. People who achieve greatness, strive for continual improvement. This improvement can only be accomplished by what they call deliberate practice. That means very specific goals, repetition, and evaluation. It means constantly pushing yourself to do more than what you think you are capable of doing. It is the same mentality that you use in fitness training, which I use in the gym. You have a set number of workouts. If you miss one, you feel it. So you have to do it every day, three times a week…there has to be a schedule. You do cardio; you lift weights, all with specific and measurable goals in mind. If you never increase the intensity of your workouts, you never improve. If I can jog three miles a day but come to the gym and walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes, I might as well be sitting at home. The activity is great. It will keep you healthy; it will maintain your weight. But you won’t get faster or stronger doing that. You can’t train for a marathon that way.

This same practice can be applied to a variety of life’s tasks and can help you to continually improve in your career. I like that. It might take a very type A personality to stick to a regimen like this…but CEO, Athlete or Musician isn’t obsessive compulsive about their career? It’s the difference between good…and great.

NBC Cancels Programs and Bestselling Books

So this is interesting. I read two articles this week about NBC and whether or not they were going to cancel their long anticipated hit of the season, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I thought the show was quite successful. In my previous rant about NBC I might have even suggested that had the put on a show as good as Studio 60 at their 8 o’clock time slot they would not be in the turmoil that they are in now. I agree that their problem is not bad lineups but bad shows. And the critics in each of these articles I read online were agreeing. Some of the comments were very, very, harsh. But I digress. The point I would like to make is that what other industry in America is there when 7 and a half million customers, buyers or clients is not a big deal? Believe me; I would be very happy with 7 million readers!

Speaking of book sales, guess which book is topping the charts! I’ll give you a hint, it’s a children’s book and it is not Harry Potter. The End by Lemony Snicket!! I haven’t read any of the books, I watched the movie that came out…I might even own it, but that is far as my unfortunate experience goes. But these numbers are very impressive. Check out this excerpt from The Book Standard,

“Lemony Snicket kept up his End of the bargain with HarperCollins, which printed an unprecedented 500,000 copies of the final book in his Series of Unfortunate Events: The End stays on top of the Overall Chart for the second consecutive week, moving 149,000 more of those copies. The End leads an encouraging performance from the Top Five, with every one of them—including three gun-ho bestselling authors and one rising political star—selling more than 50,000.”

Do you think this is average sales? Let me just fill you in on the competition.
1. THE END, Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins, Hardcover, 0064410161)
2. THE INNOCENT MAN, John Grisham (Doubleday, Hardcover, 0385517238)
3. FOR ONE MORE DAY, Mitch Albom (Hyperion, Hardcover, 1401303277)
4. THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, Barack Obama (Crown, Hardcover, 0307237699)
5. THE COLLECTORS, David Baldacci (Warner Books, Hardcover, 044653109X)

Barack Obama’s book sold 67,000 copies last week, and fell short to John Grisham’s excursion into Non Fiction. In its first week, The Innocent Man sold 171,000 copies but was still beat out by The End which debuted at 192,000 units.