We work, then we ship

This blog is shipping. It’s a continuous reminder to me to get the work done. I’m at a point where I can now write every morning. I write here, and I write in my other media (at this time a novel, which I started during NaNoWriMo, but which has been a holdover).

Work completed isn’t much until we get it out. Really, it isn’t completed until you put it out. And it’s scary to put it out. There are times when I’d rather not see the finished product.

I do some work in improvisational acting, and that’s instantaneous shipping. That’s getting up, creating a scene (doing the work) and performing it in front of an audience (shipping), all in one moment. Terrifying!

But doing that, it’s helping me here. It’s helping me everywhere. Because in improv, as in any other work, it’s okay to fail. Maybe one project lands flat. Flatter than flat. Just put it in the dungheap and move on.

Seth Godin has a graph of shipping that looks like this:

6a00d83451b31569e2017ee8407661970d-500wi.jpgOriginal post here.

This is specifically for the publication of a book. But it applies to any artistic medium. The Y-axis is the joy you feel for the project, and the X-axis shows time passing with each milestone. I think data point 6 is even lower than what’s shown because fear can take hold. That resistance.

But it’s so important to ship. To accept that fear. That fear is a gift. It’s your body telling you that what you’re doing may very well be important. So don’t stop now. Accept the gift, and get your idea out there.

Love the art in yourself

I’ve spent the last week with the words of playwrights, actors, poets, philosophers, and directors. An eclectic mix, to say the least. What I’ve gathered in my journey is a collection of thoughts on acting, theatre, and art.

Constantin Stanislavski said to love the art in yourself, not your self in the art. For me, I think he’s warning against getting too big for your breeches. And that can happen anywhere, in any occupation.

When you get to feeling like you’re the best thing since sliced bread, even if you happen to be the best thing since sliced bread, something is wrong. Humility goes a long way in keeping you working. In keeping you producing. It’s when you start to lost that humility that you think anything you do is above reproach.

As the Chinese proverb says, the higher up, the greater the fall.

Finding inspiration

Something I heard long ago was about a songwriter who would frequently hear tunes  while driving. Like, original tunes, only in the mind. And it was frustrating, because while driving it’s hard to write down music (this was before cell phones and inexpensive voice recorders, but you get the idea).

The moral was, train your inspiration to come when you’re ready for it. Not when it’s convenient for your muse.

Somewhere in Stephen King’s On Writing, or perhaps in one of the interviews he’s given about writing, he says that the way he writes is to start at the same time every morning, write the same number of hours, take the same breaks. His inspiration comes during that time.

Certainly he may get ideas while showering, or taking out the trash. Notebooks and recorders are handy in that way. But mostly he puts ideas to paper during that time when he’s set down to write.

Thankfully, we are never lacking in ideas. Good, bad, indifferent, we think things up every day. Many aren’t original. Some are. Of the original, many are terrible. Some aren’t.

As Seth Godin says, ““If you put enough bad ideas into the world, sooner or later your brain will wake up, and good ideas will come.”

I thought of this because as I was waking up two mornings ago, I heard a whole song. An original song. I got as much of it down as I could, as I was just waking up and fumbling with the recorder. I unfortunately haven’t trained my muse in the same way.

Pursuit

It’s easy to be distracted. To fall off the bandwagon. Because pursuit is hard work.

It’s hard to maintain laser focus. To devote precious time to a specific activity.

We can’t be sure it’ll pan out. Sometimes we jump ship before reaching the goal, just because it’s difficult.

But imagine what finishing would look like. That’s what successful people do. They see it through to fruition.

Yes, sometimes they too will fail. Hard. Public, epic fails that make everyone cringe.

But not completing the pursuit is the only sure way to not succeed. Yes, you may not fail. You just won’t be

In fact, the true successes are those who have doggedly pursued their interest in spite of failure.

Art, democratized

The process and product of art is democratized, thanks in large part to the internet. While industrialized creative endeavors fought against the innovations, the movement has progressed regardless.

Now it’s easier than ever to find your audience, identify common needs, and create a tribe. The most important thing, then, is to start.

Week’s (or weeks’) highlights

Some of the things that caught my attention over the past few weeks.

  • How to use a knife. One of the things I picked up in Alaska was a scrimshaw knife carved on fossilized moose bone. It’s ended up being my favorite souvenir, I suppose in part because I get to carry it with me every day. But also because it feels like I’m in touch with the land. This video popped up a couple of weeks ago, and I thought it was kind of fun to watch, even if it’s about kitchen knifes…
  • Quit drinking altogether? Sarah Sloat’s article on casual drinking gave some interesting stats, like, “On average, the mental well-being of the women who quit drinking approached the level of lifetime abstainers within the four-year period. There was, however, very little change in the mental well-being of the men who quit. These results were persistent even after the scientists adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, body mass index, and smoking status.”
  • The NYTimes mapped the major American artists of the past century, and it’s pretty damn neat. I also have an affinity for maps.
  • Where are our Park Rangers? I briefly considered taking a Ranger job at a National Park. The salary was $22,000/year. It wasn’t feasible at the time. Upper management in some larger parks can make close to $100,000/year, which is comparable for Government positions. But with budget cuts and increasing park attendance, make sure you’re staying safe.

Watching: Stranger Things
Reading: Call of the Wild 
Listening to: Oklahoma! 2019 Revival Cast Recording

Find the off switch

It’s exhausting to be constantly “on”. In extreme cases, I can think of comedians who privately battle depression, but while in public maintain their irreverent persona to the joy of others.

It can be similar in business affairs, in keeping up with the Jones’s, or even in maintaining a functioning household. If there’s no time for full relaxation or decompression, then you’re just “on”, and eventually you’ll burn out.