Category: Creative Mondays

A year long exploration of creativity.

Creative Mondays #054 – Be a kid again.


My improv teacher, Patrick Bristow, was once telling me about the first trip that Puppet Up! Uncensored took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  As part of the deal with the festival, the troupe had to do shows for families in addition to doing the regular, uncensored, shows.  Patrick says that he noticed that while these family friendly shows were well received, they weren’t the laugh riot that the usual, Uncensored, shows are.  Now, one might that that the reason for this may have been because the troupe was trying to hard to keep things PG and were therefore off their game, but Patrick has other thoughts.

Patrick feels that the reason those shows weren’t bust a gut funny is because kids do not find improv as funny as adults do.  Why?  Because kids, for the most part, spend a ton of time during the day improving on their own.  It’s called make believe, pretend, playing.  Ever see kids playing with dolls or action figures and they are doing the voices and working out scenarios?  They are improvising.  And while I’m sure they loved seeing improvising with puppets, they just didn’t get how hard it was because the people on stage were doing exactly what they do every day.  As adults, we think improv is funny (or at least some of us do) because we don’t get to play every day.  We have work and responsibilities and all that other stupid stuff.

Remember how you used to play as a kid?  How you could while away hours just…making stuff up?  I sure do.  I would set up elaborate battle scenarios with my G.I. Joes and then methodically play them all out.  That would eat up a whole afternoon, from lunchtime till dinner.  If I wasn’t doing that I would be setting up, just as elaborate, shows with my stuffed animals as stars.  Or I’d record hours of audio into my little red tape recorder and then play it back.  I loved making stuff up.

As an artist, you have to have that same passion for making stuff up.  Hopefully it hasn’t been drummed out of you by ‘real life.’  Hopefully you still see the joy in just goofing off and making things up.  Playing.  Improvising.  When I’m out shopping at a CVS or Rite Aid or Target, I get what I came to get, but I always take a small trip down the toy aisle to see what is in stock.  The kid in me eta excited to look over all the goodies that are there.  I, usually, leave without buying any toys, but that walk down the toy aisle will rekindle the ‘kid’ in me and will remind me to play a little bit.  And when I’m playing, I always feel more creative.

So this week, find some time to, simply, play.  Take a walk down the toy aisle.  Or go somewhere, theme park or special restaurant, that will rekindle that kid inside you and see if it helps kickstart your creativity.  This week, take a field trip for that kid inside you.

Let me know in the comments below how you keep your ‘kid’ alive in your creativity.  And if you did take a field trip for the kid inside you, let us know where you went and what happened.

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Creative Mondays #053 – Wrap Up


Well, here we are one year later.  I had set out to write and publish to the web, one short essay on creativity a week for all of 2014 and I am happy to say I achieved that goal.  I actually surpassed that goal in that I wrote more than fifty-two essays.  I believe I will release the remaining essays, once per week, going forward.  I may not release all of them as the reason some weren’t released in the past was because I didn’t feel they were strong enough.  But you can still expect a few more weeks of thoughts to continue into 2015.

I would like to whole heartedly thank those of you who followed along with this experiment and a big shout out to the people who commented on the various posts and to those who would send me comments in by email.  It was rewarding to know that I was reaching people in various creative fields and I just wasn’t shouting into the void.

My initial goal was to write fifty-two of these essays and then, possibly, collect them in a book.  I guess that’s still a possibility, but I’m not sure if the interest is there.  I guess it wouldn’t hurt to give the essays an edit and then maybe put out an ebook for those who would be interested.  I’m not sure these require an official print version, but a digital version could be fun.  Of course this step means I would have to actually go back and edit them, a task I really don’t enjoy.  I guess we’ll see.

What’s next?  I don’t know.  Now that this project is complete I’ll have to find another one to spur me on.  This one was fun, but I may look into something a little more creative.  A novel.  A screenplay.  Something.  Time will tell.

At any rate, thanks for following along on this Creative Monday’s project.  Enjoy the few ‘bonus’ posts in the weeks to come and keep checking back here at where I will always be posting…something.

Oh, and check in now and then with the creative projects you’re working on.  I always like to see what’s going on in the creative minds of others!

Thanks again.

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Creative Mondays #52 – Love your fans.


Many creative people, myself included, have big dreams.  Dreams of our art, whatever that art may be, becoming world renowned.  Having a legion of fans that span the globe, eagerly awaiting every new piece of art you create.  I know I have this dream and I’m sure I’m not alone.

That is a great dream, but reality is a cruel mistress and we must face reality that that level of superstardom only happens to very small amount of people.  Again, great goal to have, but keep your dreams and realities in check.  That’s the bad news.  Here’s the good news.  You do have fans.  Sure, maybe not the phalanx of fans that Lady Gaga or Tom Hanks may have, but you do have fans.  And, this is important, in your quest to become world renowned, don’t forget those fans that you have now.

We live in a miraculous time where artists have it made when it comes to finding an audience.  In the span of an hour a musician can record and release a song into the world and, within a week, be on the same playing field as Lady Gaga (ex. The iTunes Store).  A painter can paint a piece of art and have it listed on their Etsy page and possibly sold, before the paint is even dry.  A video of a dance routine, a stand-up set, a puppet show can be on the web as it’s happening.  We are truly living in the future and it is super easy for artists to find fans of their work.

Does it take time to find these fans?  Yes.  But if you keep creating and keep putting your work out there, you will find your fans and when you do, you need to keep them.  A cliche in movies when someone is on the road to stardom, another character will always say, “Don’t forget us little people.”  That’s a good motto for artists, except forget the term ‘little people’ because the people who are your fans NOW are, and will be, the most important people in your career.

The fans you have now, no matter how many, are the ones who will be out there telling their friends about you and your art.  They’ll share your art on Facebook or Twitter, they’ll buy copies of their art to give to other people in the hopes of making them fans as well.  Do not forget this.  Be good to those fans.  “Dance with the one that brought ya.’ And your fans now, those are the ones that brought you.

This topic began rattling around in my head recently because I’ve been going though one of my ‘Dark Times.’  A Dark Time is when I let the negative brain just completely take over.  I see friends and acquaintances getting breaks while I’m still struggling to get where they are.  Often times, to me, it appears they are doing much less work, their idea isn’t as fully formed, and things are happening for them while I’m slaving away to get noticed.  But then I have to, metaphorically, slap myself in my face and say, “You are getting noticed, dummy.  You do have fans.”

A few months ago I set up a Patreon Page for Saturday Morning Media and since then I have six ‘patrons’ who have pledged a total of $81 a month to me to help me produce shows.  These are people, fans, who believe in what I’m doing, so much, they are giving me some of their hard earned cash every month so that I can produce creative projects.  I owe these people everything and I am humbled and ashamed at my negative brain when I realize that I should be focusing on producing content for them.  Not other people.

So, love the fans you have now.  Even if there’s only one.  Even if it’s only your mother.  Love them, keep creating.  Soon you’ll find you’ll have two fans, then three, then six….

Have you heard about the 1,000 fans theory?  What are your thoughts on it?  Leave them in the comments below.  Have a great week!

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Creative Mondays #051 – You don’t have to like everybody.


Today, I’m going to talk about something that doesn’t quite relate to art and creativity, but it does relate to life and I have often come up against this in my creative pursuits.  It’s also one of those things that when I lay it out people will say, “Well, yeah.  Duh!” but it is something that hit me as an ‘A ha!’ moment several years ago.  I’m thinking that by talking about it here it might lead to an ‘A Ha!’ moment for somebody else.

Several years ago I was reading an interview with Penn Jillette from Penn & Teller and the interviewer asked him a question about his friendship with Teller and said they must hang out together a lot.  Now, I’m paraphrasing here, obviously, but Penn said something to affect of that he and Teller are friends at work, obviously, but they actually don’t spend a lot of time together outside of work and work related events.  They get along great at work but they aren’t the type of friends that hang out all the time.

Around that same time, I heard that the members of the band Barenaked Ladies didn’t hang out together while on tour.  Another huge shock.  While on the road I thought they’d do most things together.

This was a huge revelation to me.  I assumed, perhaps foolishly, that Penn and Teller where together all the time outside their work because their rapport onstage was so great.  My ‘A Ha’ moment hit me.

You don’t have to be friends with everybody.

When we’re in school I think that thought is drilled into us that everyone has to be friends and be happy.  But you don’t.  People will not be comparable with you and you don’t have to be friends with this people.  There’s no punishment for not being friends with them.  You’re not breaking any laws.  In fact, the law says, at least here in America, you are free to not be friends with them.

You do, however, have to get along with them when it comes to work.

This was a hard hurdle for me to overcome, but the revelation that I don’t have to be friends with the people I work made working with them world’s easier.  I can be civil, I can be professional and bring my most creative energy to a project, but I don’t have to be friends with them at all.

I often find myself working closely with people who, not only are not my friends, are people I would rather not be around at all.  But I just keep in mind the fact that though I have to work with them, I don’t have to be friends with them and it makes things worlds easier.

You may have to be in play together, or write something together, or work together on an advertising campaign…or a puppet show.  But you don’t have to be friends with those people the moment you’re off the clock.

Now, I really do try to get along and be friendly with everyone.  That does, of course, make the process of working together easier.  But, know that getting along and being friends are two different things, makes getting the work done more pleasant for everybody.

How do you deal with having to get along with people who you would not be friends with?  Are you someone who can get along with anyone?  Let me know in the comments below.

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