Creative Funk and Blockages

Writer’s block means that you are either processing something, have yet to experience something necessary to your development, or simply have too much to worry about. It is not something that you should ever put yourself in the position of fearing. As someone who has many creative strands to my work, I usually deal with it by using one of the others, whether that is making cartoons, games, artwork or helping other people work through their stuff.

Chatting to a friend earlier this evening, we were discussing why he does not seem to want to promote his acclaimed work. It turns out that bad experiences from his past prevent him, on the grounds that he is somehow jinxed. This, coupled with having had successful projects hijacked, has led to a creative block that has been extremely frustrating for me as the viewer, and extremely limiting for him. Despite this, he has managed several small projects, but is suffocated by what I can only describe as a sense of despondence and fear of success.

In this case, it is film-maker’s and graphic novelist’s block, rather than writer’s block. He, in common with another film-maker I have had dealings with, limits himself by not effectively working around the blockage. This is an intermittent, rather than a constant, problem, and in the meantime I take the rather selfish approach of involving him in my stuff (he does all the photography for the store, and is creating the covers for this year’s crop of books.) I feel quite bad about this, however, as his time would be better spent generating more of his own work and starting new strands, in a holistic development. You often find, on your downtime from one area that you work in, that you unexpectedly grow in a new direction.

I have many authors on my friend’s lists, and barely a day goes by that someone does not complain of being blocked, or that they feel guilty that they have not written that day. In comparison, I frequently do not write for months at a time, and feel nothing at all about it. As I have previously mentioned, Agatha Christie said that she knew she was a professional writer because she wrote things she did not like, at times she did not want to write. I have no plans to be in this position. Deadlines are helpful, but you do not become better by hammering out pulp. I am lucky enough to be feeling quite vital at the moment, but should this change, I have a game to construct and some artwork to do.

It often does not look as if you are doing anything at all, when your work is creative, and then you look back on your day and you have written a press release, researched another couple of textures, absorbed some patterns and shapes, tidied your workspace, sorted some materials for another day. If you look on your writer’s block in a similar way, your brain does need time to store information, process it, and proceed to output mode. You can try scribbling tasklists and notes to yourself in the meantime, to try to speed up this process, but it will happen by itself eventually. Mindmapping was a useful technique I used at university, and it certainly helps a lot with business plans and presentations. Plotting the thought bubbles sometimes makes things a lot clearer.

Negative events often cause you to remain in this state of blockage or funk for several years, when you could just break it down into neat chunks. I was very aware throughout this particular creative period, of what was going on, because I had seen it all before. Years ago, I might have bothered to meet Wolfe, on the assumption that there was some magical source of the waterfall of emotion, but even two years of personal misery did not deter me from the creative outcome, thankfully.

Be aware, as a creative person, that the bad things that happen to you are probably even more useful to you than the nice things. Relentless positivity is for insecure, easily threatened people that are unwilling to develop in a realistic way. The bad years, you will find, provide a more stable footing for your growth in the good ones, if you teach yourself to look on it the right way. My friend can now make well regarded film with minimal money, due to the horrific things that have happened to him. If I can just get him past this unwillingness to shout about it – there is no reason why he cannot expand on this if he wants to. It has taken probably the whole fifteen years I have known him for me to understand why he strangles himself with the hostile form of self-doubt that prevents us finishing certain projects. Which brings me to my final point – unfinished projects should not be binned – it is possible that your brain awaits a future event to teach you what you need to know. Growth is not always a smooth process, but it gets a lot smoother when you learn to protect yourself from shock, and that no material is bad material when you are a creative flower.

Continue Reading

A Goal is a Dream with a Deadline

One thing since my family disaster in the form of both parents getting dementia has been the death of the personal deadline. I should be concerned about this, since I have traditionally been fond of work deadlines as a method of avoiding the rest of my life.

I am going to fly in the face of any motivator and tell you the truth – deadlines are no good for quality. I have got much further since I abandoned the deadline. I do things when I feel like it, for as long as I feel like it and the rest of my time is pretty much eaten up by 24/7 responsibility for my mother and her property.

The fact that I am trapped in the house by her illness and the lack of support has meant that I have no distractions in the form of looking after or enjoying myself, and so I feel I can afford the luxury of time. Some of the first batch were being thought about for over a year before they were actually completed, and I can honestly say this has made my work better.

The work went into the 3rd dimension only after a personal crisis brought about by an event outlined vaguely in Best Scandal Ever. Finding out that I cannot expect even the smallest amount of respect from a desk jockey agent when trying to help somebody basically caused me to decide that nothing mattered, and the removal of time and the restraint of ambition has meant I have all the time in the world to perfect this one thing that I can confidently say is unique to me.

So much for your standard motivational garbage then. A disaster of rejection has led to me finally doing what I probably should have done in the first place – ignore everyone and do whatever I feel, whenever I feel like doing it.

Continue Reading

Learning from idiots

The recent use of idiocy in the USA to keep Donald Trump in the media, and overspill back in Scotland, is not the only thing which has caused me to ponder the value of being an idiot.  Given that in terms of my emotional attachment to Wolfe, I too am a kind of professional idiot, I am now pondering the value of idiocy.

Trump has taken some minor financial hits in the last couple of days, Oman and Scotland have reported third party business losses as a result of his shameless self promotion and moronic self-regard.  I wonder if he calculates this on a profit/loss basis?  For a person hailed as a business expert, if he has not done this, then perhaps he makes his living shooting his mouth off and having other people use the convenient pun of his name for their own purposes. It would make more sense if people were looking at each other across the boardroom table, rolling their eyes and signing away fortunes on the basis of having the word Trump on the side of a building.

The spectacular headline that Trump would have made more money doing nothing, makes me think that running your mouth is an outstandingly popular activity in the idiocracy that is the USA. Certainly the examples we are shown here in the UK indicate that the American rich are similar to the lower middle classes, in terms of the glorification of self interest and lack of perceived duty and humility, something which I have always felt made us much stronger as a nation in the UK.

Recently, of course, we in the UK have taken to inviting foreign money to bolster the luxury market and conceal the fact that economically speaking, our government does not even remember the simple economic principles of Maggie Thatcher.  Yes, she dictated that it was a good idea to kill off unsustainable nationalised industry, but nobody in the current government seems to have put this together with encouraging small to medium sized business, proportionately enormous employers, with enhancements to investibility and encouragement of the general population to risk everything replanting the economic garden by starting small businesses.

Perhaps we should have a Chancellor that can count, with a memory of thirty years ago so that he does not miss this crucial detail.  Instead he is starving the poor in order to fund crappy and equally corrupt Labour PFI policy damage and fund his cronies in the defence industry, whilst everyone apparently sits at home and wonders why their respective riots are not reported on the media.  We in Scotland are well aware that the media is suppressing information from little England.  For the benefit of the terminally stupid Conservative voters, sitting in their ‘Alright Union Jack’ properties – try looking up DEMONSTRATION SUPPRESSED BY THE MEDIA and you will find a list of unreported action by students, anti-war protesters, people protesting the starvation of the disabled.  We are being treated just as badly as the Americans in terms of the assumption that we are all too stupid to care that we are led by people too knuckle-draggingly dumb to be allowed out of the cocaine room at the private members club.

At this point in my life I am of the opinion that we should take this as a sign that no matter our history or our previous lack of confidence and motivation, we should take matters into our own hands.  We need to find ways around the problem in terms of making use of things like crowdfunding, social capital and our own good ideas to regrow our own gardens.  If you have harboured even the shred of a dream, have a look at how to make it work on a basis that the silly boys in Westminster cannot interfere with.

Likewise, my inability to make love work for me, no matter how much work I pour into expressing myself, should tell me that love is just not for me.  I should give up on drilling my way through a shell of self protective superficiality and forget that Wolfe is actually a perfectly functioning and rather frightened person wrapped up in a blanket of bullshit.  I should move on to someone that presents a facade of emotional competence, and wait for the inevitable conclusion that nobody knows what they are doing and it is all futile.  I should not waste my time recovering from bad experiences, instead being aware that life is short, and since there is no actual truth, I might as well role play my way through the traditional markers of age and time.  I should not make any effort to communicate.  I should make distinctions between global politics and the vagaries of my own emotion.  I certainly should not mix the topics, in case I confuse people determined to sleep their way through life and put full stops on it where none exist.

Perhaps what we should learn from idiocy, is that all progress is futile, because sooner or later, someone who prioritised money or power over knowledge decided that we just don’t matter.  Nothing matters at all in fact, apart from making sure that we get more jelly beans from life than the idiot next to us.

Continue Reading

Introversion improves Confidence

Do you ever find yourself saying what you think people want to hear?  Do you cringe at what you have said and wonder why you felt you had to say it?  Are you the hardest worked life and soul of the party you know? Do you regard yourself as over-reactive and try to compensate with over-generosity or putting even more work into making people like you?  Do you ever fall victim to ‘running your mouth?’  If you answer yes to any or all of these things you may be an extrovert introvert.

An extrovert-introvert is basically an introvert who chooses to appear as an extrovert.  This may be for a variety of reasons.  Work was mine.  Head chefs in particular, may think that they are necessarily loud, big personalities who dominate the space they are in because it is expedient for the purposes of getting the job done under pressure. eg. Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White etc.  Some of the best chefs I have met, however, were actually shy, quiet people who worked to greater technical specification and gained more respect from the art itself. eg. Anton Mossiman, Andrew Fairlie.

I remember when I was very young, saying that I could not cope with any more crowds as I was getting tired from having to be six or seven people.  Quite apart from the callow and impressionable youth, I was expressing my introversion. Living in a very large house, I had always had the luxury of several hours a day with no-one bothering me, which I would spend reading or making things, since music was frowned upon, but that is another story.

If you frequently find yourself beating yourself up over stuff you have said or done, it may be time to admit to yourself that you actually prefer your own company and spending some time ALONE.  It is almost certainly better for your health than constantly tripping over an overactive tongue, and may save you future problems with your existing relationships.  I certainly found that after I became a recluse, the people who wanted to see me badly enough to seek me out, were doing so to get some sort of guidance that I had no idea I was providing.  You are nearly always stronger/brighter/quicker than you think.

After ten years away from my old friends when travelling, I was astonished to find that the vast majority of them had done nothing apart from seek validation from each other since I had left.   This seemed to me to be very sad.  Now, as an unashamed introvert, having distanced myself even from them, I achieve a lot more and am better rested and considerably more confident than I ever was as a bad tempered, brusque chef who was always in charge.

It is wise to conduct a cost benefit analysis, and figure out if you can squeeze yourself some time alone.  Make it a priority and find out who you really are.  I can tell you that almost all of the time, you are better off without the advice of even the most well-meaning friend, and you are certainly better off without the warped role playing advice of your family.

Continue Reading

Empowerment and the Garden Economy

I may have to disappear for a week or two as I have a feeling Best Adventure Ever is about to burst forth.  It is a far more complex book than Best Scandal Ever or Best Romance Ever and deals with a lot of things at once.  A more advanced reader will notice that they pick new things up the more times they return to the stories, some of it is only really intended for Wolfe.  I basically write free books for an audience of one, with a giant side salad of entertainment for everyone else.  I hope he appreciates this, I wouldn’t do this if I did not believe him to have the capacity to find gemstones on a pebble beach.

I don’t suppose it really matters, the work gets done, and it’s his loss if he doesn’t.  In any case, all the Best Ever….Sam Redwood stories will always be free.  They are gifts, intended to spark interest from readers at some future point in their lives if not right now.

Today I have been considering the matter of empowerment.  Many motivational speakers like to talk about empowerment.  In the event that you are a bit tired and browbeaten, depressed, middle-aged and underachieving, lazy or perhaps a tad dim, empowerment is a subject that you will fully appreciate.  As something of an empowerment gourmet, very few of them think much about it beyond – the audience will like this, the audience will admire me for saying this, the audience will buy my empowerment course etc etc.  You know the scene – Tony Robbins has probably a hundred or more members of staff doing mini empowerment courses all over the USA, as do many others.

So here is my empowerment for the bombast-hating and probably more intelligent rest of the motivation market. You matter, you matter, you matter.  Stop assuming other people will do things for you, and that your participation doesn’t count.  You dug yourselves into a hole, now it is time to look in the mirror, tell yourself that you count, and dig yourselves back out of it again.  Nobody can do it for you!

Very technical, isn’t it? Yes, your last hundred dollars/pounds/million yen matter.  Open your ethical or SRI bank or building society account now, so that when it is operational, you can transfer your wages or income into it.  Prepare for changing your broadband/tv/telephone account by collecting the relevant information and STOP GOING TO THE SUPERMARKET ALREADY! If you are desperate for the latest Prada, look for it on Ebay instead.  Consider if you will still want it next season.  If the answer is no, then you don’t need it and would be better off spending your time finding a chic new designer item nobody else knows about.

I updated the information on Better Person Project for the UK last night, and will take another look at the slightly more complicated USA this evening.  I am ashamed to say that had not looked at it in quite a long time as I had been fighting off my Wolfitis over the winter and spending too much time with the worst-eater-in-the-world Twisty.  This stops now.  I will just have to drown myself in work instead. All because somebody somewhere decided that I did not matter – you see how this works?  Telling people that they do not matter disempowers them, and then they do nothing and try to compensate in other ways.

So, repeat after me, I matter, and I am now going to make a difference. Enjoy whatever beverage comes to hand, and start making plans to redirect your money away from the conventional routes.  It’s not only important for you, it’s important for your future, and your potential children’s future. There is no future economic plan that justifies the world’s wealth going into so few hands.

Feed the saplings, cut down the old trees.  The economy works much the same way as a garden.  If you persist in feeding only the established forest, the old trees will still fall down but nothing will grow.  DO IT NOW!

Continue Reading

Economic Raw Food for the Brain

About a fortnight ago, a tearful young lady had put a message up on facebook complaining that she was tired of being disposable, that nobody had any feelings anymore and she did not feel that she could live like that.

I very quickly replied that her generation had been brought up for a transient existence because transience is good for the economy, and that if she expected to change anything, she was just going to have to rebel.  She did not reply. A good example of this symptom of the Western economic disease is one of IKEA’s campaigns, which entreated the viewer to get divorced and buy some furniture. This is a fairly advanced gag for the European market, but an important one.

I am sure this phenomenon, of personal disposability and the need to continuously upgrade yourself, started during my generation or even earlier in the USA, but in the UK even people two years younger than me show a marked difference to people of my own age. The sublimation of cultural influence is so finely tuned now, that even 20 odd months make a difference. Where I got much the same post war creative children’s programming as my older peers, I noted as far back as the 1980s that colours in newer TV shows were more akin to sales signs and children were being discouraged from actually making anything in favour of showing off another purchase. I was met with dismay in the 1990s when I made a serious complaint to the BBC about it.

It is very sad, and very bad for fulfilling personal development that we are now training people to despise menial jobs and assume that the answer to all ills is to purchase happiness.  It is equally sad to destroy the sense of commitment that, despite sacrificing a sense of day to day contentment, provided people with the stability required to move beyond Candy Crush Saga, to discuss more important things and perhaps volunteer to do something about them instead of assuming powerlessness.  Being serious is now considered to be something undesirable and unattractive. People like this poor girl feel that their emotions are somehow unacceptable, and that feeling anything renders them worthless.  Compare this with even fifty years ago, and you will see exactly how much you have been manipulated.

Post 90s babies may not even have access to people who remember when it was OK to have feelings and make lousy Valentine’s cards (or whatever else) for each other as it now seems to be desirable to throw the elderly into a care home.  Boys are now deprived of the company of their fathers, fixing broken items or inventing new ones, because the traditional skill level has been depleted for the benefit of the Political Economic Paradise we are so fortunate to live in. Now they are supposed to jump into the second car and buy something new to keep somebody somewhere (else) in work. All so that your government can show you another couple of percent growth and keep you voting for them.  You can also count yourself responsible for perpetual war and student loans, since these are also part of the economic machine that is running out of steam.

I, perversely, count myself lucky to be in a position to show you exactly how much you have been conned. Time is money – no, money is time, and time is worth a lot more than cash to you if you know how to use it effectively and have sufficient motivation to do something with it.  Nobody is powerless, and nobody is worth more than you just because they are good at extracting cash from their employer or anybody else they do business with. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise, stop comparing yourself to them and stop worrying about what people might say if you actually care about something.  You may well surprise yourself.

Continue Reading

You created the one percent

As promised, here is your checklist for redirecting finance in a more positive direction. It is important for you to circulate it to as many people as possible to encourage them to do the same. You can do as little or as much as you choose, but the more people redirecting their lives away from feeding what is now a seriously malfunctioning machine the better. The 1 percent that everyone complains about only became the 1 percent because the 99 percent put them there.

My suggestion is that you do one thing at a time, so that you do not become bogged down with the details.

If you are in Europe, sign this https://stop-ttip.org/

And this https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/eu-ttip-petition#petition

And this https://www.change.org/p/to-the-eu-and-uk-governments-do-not-sign-up-to-ttip

Open an account with an ethical bank, again I have posted links to some of the banks which market themselves as ethical investors on the Better Person Project  You will find them under the appropriate drop down menu.  The reason I suggest this before doing anything else is because changing all your monthly payments over to a new account is a pain in the neck, and considering the other slightly more time consuming things I will be adding to this list, it is important that you start with this.

This means that you will be encouraging positive rather than negative investments from the banks that you choose to deal with.  If we can encourage a swing towards ethical investment, it will influence the more mainstream banks to do the same.  One person matters. One thousand people matter.  One million people and we have actually achieved something. You matter.  Open the account.  If your country is not represented, find the bank in your country that invests ethically and add it to the website, please.

In the event that you hold savings, consider investing a little in a ‘lend with care’ or social capital project as you will achieve two things – first, the person you are lending to will not have to go to a bank and give them more business, and second, you will get a much better interest rate than the banks have been offering. Again, I have added links on the Better person project site, and if you find more, or better ones, you are free to add them without fear of my scraping your data, or whatever.

Stop shopping with large retailers such as supermarkets, ‘iconic’ brands etc.  The big global fashion labels in particular, are owned by about 6 investment companies.  Not that they are particularly evil investment companies, but if you wish to achieve an impact in terms of diversifying the market, you want to feed the smaller companies until they are in a position to compete.

Supermarkets are a menace, because you are lulled into giving them a proportion of your income every week, so one company benefits disproportionately by cutting costs or advertising more widely.  This is easy for a raw foodist, because chances are if you are shopping in a supermarket, you are paying too much already.  Non raw foodies will find it more difficult.

I completely understand as I sometimes do the shopping at 3am and Asda (Walmart) is the only one open, but if we are to start making a dent in this, it starts at home. Reducing your spend to the minimum and using your spending power to encourage competitors is key.

As a side effect, smaller retailers are frequently located in places where it is more practical to walk, and you may be able to use your car less.

Communications companies are just as outgrown.  Investigate smaller companies who offer the same services that you currently enjoy.  It is worth considering spending slightly more in order to grow a competing company, rather than get additional TV channels that you do not even watch thrown in as part of a deal to maintain the economic status quo with a company like Sky, Virgin or the equivalent.

It is a question of habit, and being aware that the price of convenience is the difference between being forced into a minimum wage job by a giant retailer, or opening a store yourself, if that is what makes you happy. Just as thinking before you eat makes a difference, so does thinking before you let a penny out of your wallet.

Bear in mind, if you choose to do this, that it was not entirely your fault that you were sucked into a situation where your government became powerless against the businesses that supported them.  The original book goes into quite a lot of detail as to how it was done, and how people were weakened in the face of ultra convenience.  I shall take a look at publishing the finished material, but for now – I think this is enough for us to be getting on with.  If we can get around the time consuming problems associated with rechannelling our own money, it will make it much easier for the next wave of people that get on board.

Continue Reading