Archive for November, 2009

Premature editing can stop a seed of vision or project before it even begins.

There are times when your creative voice may feel overwhelmed by another voice, and if you’re anything like me, possibly several voices. Lets call them “Inner Editors.”

There are three in particular that I feel are important to recognize when you are creating:

1. The Stop-Before-You-Start Editor
2. The Obsessed Editor
3. The Real Editor

The Stop-Before-You-Start Editor

This Editor loves the younger generation and those who feel like everything worth doing has already been done. They say, “Who wants to look at my ideas when there are so many good ones out there already?”

This Editor starts yapping at your first thought of a great idea, telling you all the reasons you can’t or shouldn’t continue to build on that idea, and before you know it, the idea is dead, never making it out of your head and into reality. It simply never had a chance.

A few thoughts about getting past the Stop-Before-You-Start Editor:

When you have an idea or project you want to create, you must first extract the tonal quality of that idea by allowing it to flow out onto paper or some other physical medium; do this right away, before this Editor snips it out of your creative conscious by convincing you that your idea is too small, too grand, too raw to be conceived.

Ideas may appear as feelings, colors, themes, smells, characters, words, a look, or a landscape; they do not necessarily have a story attached to them right away, nor do they need to in order to become the beginning of something.

Some examples of how it looks to be free from this inner Editor:

The filmmaker talking a hundred miles and hour about something so magnificent you cannot possibly comprehend, but it’s there in those little stick people and arrows she is so passionately putting on her cocktail napkin.

The sculptor looking lovingly and with a blush of excitement at a lump of ugly gray clay that he has pulled and stretched into some sort of strange raw amoeba pose.

Here is one we can all relate to; and if you cannot relate, consider trying it:

The one-year-old sitting in her high chair with a devilish grin, one hand full of spaghetti. Instead of putting it in her mouth, she throws it against the wall just to see what happens, and with unrestrained delight she watches it stick to the wall before it begins dangling and crawling down on its own.

These ideas begged to come to life, and so they did: on cocktail napkins and grandma’s wall!

Why deny yourself that moment, even if never gets past that initial excitement?

The Obsessed Editor

This little guy with a magnifying glass and dictionary at his side obsesses over a very small portion of an idea or project before it has a foundation, form, or presence of its own.

Think about this:

A filmmaker would not start filming or developing the stick people on the napkin before he had a story outline or script to work off of (well, maybe if you were Terry Gilliam).

The sculptor would not try to create a perfect arm to go on a body he had not yet formed.

An architect would not spend all his time on the details of one window before coming up with an overall vision and purpose for his building.

A chef would not agonize over the spices he will use before deciding on the menu.

Some thoughts and ideas to help shoo away the little bug-eyed Obsessive Editor:

Develop an outline, and if that’s not your style, let yourself complete a first draft. Look toward the next horizon. The point is to use the clarity and truth of your overall vision to engage with what you are creating.

If you’re a writer, let yourself write whatever comes, even if you know that some of the words are wrong. If you’re a visual artist, try different colors, wrong colors, right colors; a musician? allow all sounds, no sound, and even annoying sound. And if you’re writing a screenplay, let your settings make sense or no sense at all.

There is no right or wrong in a first draft or first form of vision. When you come up with wonderful details, put them in loosely, but don’t obsess over making them work just yet.

I am not saying to purposely create crappy prose or poetry, only to allow the ideas to flow without trying to turn crappy into beautiful, for out of these moments of freedom may come brilliance and the perfect set of elements to build from.

You will still have detailed ideas, thoughts, and visions; in fact, you will have many more as you move forward without the Obsessive Editor trying to control the details.

The Real Editor

When your idea has a heartbeat of its own, when it breathes and stands on its own and you can see it walking toward you without your assistance, then YOU get to be the Editor, the REAL editor.

This is my favorite place to hang out—where time ceases to exist.

We sand, polish, highlight, shadow, sprinkle hues; find the perfect word, nuance, spice, music, setting, ambiance, color and flow. We get to revel in the spectacular last few touches put here and there.

It is like being in heaven when you get to this point.

And finally here is one more who is nothing like the Editors and is better expressed as a Special Blessing upon your creation:

Before you give your work to the rest of the world, consider sharing it with a mentor, someone who knows your voice and medium of art, someone you trust, someone to help you snip off the threads that hang from this living, breathing masterpiece and give it that final push past the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Making of a Masterpiece

Requires (quicktime) to play.

Happy Creating!


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Autumn’s Italy

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook:
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The Power of Twittering

Executives twitter for content

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Writer’s Block is BS

The past couple of years I have really embraced some awesome ideas about how I want to live the rest my life.

I took these ideas and blended them with one of my passions, writing.

If you Google writer’s block, you will find literally hundreds and thousands of written articles, products, books, therapy groups, toys, forums, and workshops—and a lot of them are super fun!

The only problem I have with the majority of them is that if you look closely, you’ll see that they are cast from a perspective that you are a victim of Writer’s Block, as if it were a disease or inevitable condition that strikes writers and the creative process in general. It seems to be a great cash crop much like all the dieting and get skinny quick traps out there.

Here is my new definition of Writer’s Block:

A waste of time, a fictitious condition that one chooses to wallow in rather than engage with their craft on a higher level.

My own Cooked up experience of Writers Block

At the age of thirteen I realized how much I loved to write and I automatically accepted that this passion for writing would at some point cause me to be stricken with this highly talked about condition amongst writers.

Every writer gets it because it’s a for-sure-thing—and an honor, right?

My first Writer’s block was a lot like my first menstrual period, validating that I was no longer a child but a real woman. Not only was I now a real woman but also a real woman writer with real writer’s block and real PMS!

In my limited, puberty tight mind, this meant I was going through some sort of incredible transformation.

Surely I would come out the other side walking on flower petals just like Aphrodite, and with the uncanny ability to write worldly amazing stuff that would wow my many handsome male suitors, who would surround me in awe as I reclined on a purple velvet chaise with black satin pillows and a tall Siamese cat named Cleo, who would forever guard my writing quarters, gently purring and batting his eyes at me in approval.

Big flowery Purr . . .

Well the Goddess status quickly wore off and it became normal for these not so sure thoughts to play over and over in my head about how bad I suck because writer’s block and PMS have complete control over my life. My mentality and internal conversation for the next 28 years went like this:

Wow, I just wrote a great essay, I love writing!

Now I just have to sit around and wait for the next inspiration to hit; then I can spend another 4 to 10 hours of phenomenal writing.

I can’t wait!

Hopefully the urge will not hit me when I have PMS or I will really be screwed!

I wonder when it will happen, two years, three years, maybe ten?

What if the block is removed and the muse doesn’t show up?

What the hell is a muse anyway?

That’s Ok—I will wait. All this stuff will be revealed in time.

Writer’s block does not last forever and the very best of us get it.

This is exactly how I thought it worked, and most writers would nod in agreement if I brought up writer’s block in conversation, which made it even more acceptable and spot on.

I was resigned to being a victim of the no longer glamorous disease.

Its presence now had the weight and attributes of Lord Voldemort.


Writers Block is it REAL ?

Real life writer example and why I say writer’s block does not really exist

The following is from an interview with Keith Davidson, an award winning screenwriter who recently won first place in the Disney/ABC writing competition:

Q: Do you write every day? How many hours per day?

Keith: I am just too lazy to write every day. But when I’m in the middle of a script I’m enthused about, I’ll often put in 5-9 hours a day.

Q: Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with that?

Keith: Never had writer’s block. If I’m temporarily stuck on a scene, I’ll jump to another scene—or do some research—work on another script—or watch a movie—then get back to it later.

Keith Davidson doesn’t get writer’s block and even refers to himself as lazy! I think this is amazing.

Here is the truth whether you believe it or not:

Writing is a choice. It is not about sitting around stringing pretty words together.

For your writing to be authentic and have the ability to connect with your readers, you must participate and engage in the environment outside of the physical space you may call the Author’s Corner—you know, that space with all the piles of notes and books on prompts and props and protagonists.

When you sit down to write, you are articulating the experience of that engagement.

Notice that when Keith Davidson was stuck on a scene, he didn’t call it writer’s block; he used that call to participate in writing, engaging his other senses: visual, listening, doing, tasting—it is all writing.

Another real writer example:

I have a friend who writes for a local periodical entertainment magazine. This man writes a lot, and he writes very well.

I have never asked him if he ever had a case of writer’s block, but I can pretty much guarantee you that he would say the same thing Keith said.

When my friend is not writing, he is observing, watching, participating, taking pictures, creating, and being very involved with his life.

I asked him once how he does it all, and he replied :

“It beats the alternative”

One more example of one of my favorite real writers

This young woman is the perfect example of writing in real time. Not only is she writing but she is snapping pictures from the passenger seat of a little Honda zipping through Texas at 100 miles an hour.

Just try and beat that for productivity and fun! Much more effective than staring at a blank document for hours and days.

Great writing comes from flexing the majority of your writing muscles by participating in life so that you can inspire your readers on a potent experiential level.

How can you thrill someone if you have never been thrilled yourself?


You can choose to sit in your head listening to your own BS about how you have writer’s block and resolve to wait it out—days, months, years, decades.

Or you can be in action experiencing, gathering material, feeling excitement, observing reactions, living your life, and soaking up all the content life has to offer so you can do what you love—write and share it with the rest of us.



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