Thursday, May 24, 2012

Let Go, and Enjoy the Ride

Neil Gaiman, multidimensional author, is a genius and a very funny one. While what he says in an address to college graduates applies specifically to those who want to make a living as artists, his advice can benefit all of us who want to live more creatively.

"If you don't know it's impossible it's easier to do. And because nobody's done it before, they haven't made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet."

"Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right."

". . .it's true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience."

"The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right."

Here's the link for the video of the address.

Neil Gaiman addresses the university of the arts class of 2012.

If you want to also/or read the address, here's the link.

Transcript of Neil Gaiman's address

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to Crush Your Creativity: Be Rigid

This is one of the best ways to crush, squash, and generally straight-jacket your creativity. It's also one of the easiest methods to practice. All you have to do is tell yourself, "It has to be done this way."

You can find lots of ways to say this, such as:

"This is how my parents did it."

"This is how I've always done it."

"If it's a good idea, how come no one ever thought of it before?"

"If I don't follow the rules, I'll get into trouble."

"If I don't follow a strict routine, I won't accomplish anything."

We are usually well trained in following the rules and routines. I knew someone who in kindergarten tried to paint a green pumpkin. He got into a lot of trouble.

Another way to get your little creative hand smacked is to color outside the lines.

Underlying rigidity is usually fear. "They'll laugh at me, reject me, ignore me, lock me up."


Creativity lives outside the lines. If you really want to express yourself and be true to yourself, that has to be more important than what "they" might say or do.

I didn't name this blog "Dragonfire: The Creative Spark" by accident. The urge to create is a fire that burns away all considerations about what others might think.

To use a real-life and contemporary example: Many indie authors chose this route because they had a certain pattern of rejection from the established publishing world. They would get rejections that went like this, "I really like your book. It's original and imaginative, and you write very well. The problem is, I don't think I could sell it." Translation: this doesn't fit into any of the slots and categories that the big publishing houses believe can safely sell.

That's why you'll find some of the most creative writers around, those who are transcending traditional boundaries and exploring new worlds among the independent authors.

Rigidity isn't always a chronic condition. Sometimes it shows up in creative blockages where one finds oneself recycling the same old tired ideas.


Dare to think and do something new.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How to Crush Your Creativity: Get Discouraged

I'm not suggesting that you will never get discouraged. The key questions here are: How easily are you discouraged, and how long will you stay discouraged?

To take writing as an example, some people jump ship at the first sign of difficulty. The plot isn't gelling, the characters went AWOL, or you can't find the information you need for background research.

Others get through the writing part and give up either because some agents turn it down or because they can't figure out self-publishing details.

Whatever your source of discouragement, you will hear in the background the words, "It's just too hard." You may also hear, "It isn't fair," in which case, check out the post on resentment.

The more you repeat the unmagic phrase, "It's just too hard," the harder it will seem. Imagine that each repetition is like placing a rock in your way. Your goal is on the other side. If you say the phrase 10 times a day, that's 10 rocks. Uncontrolled repetition leads to building a wall.


Try to eliminate that phrase.

Replace it with others, such as "Maybe I can ask someone." "Maybe I can get a critique." "I might be able to find a helpful book or information online."

Remember the little train that could. Even if you're not sure you can, say, "I think I can."