I’m No Expert

WTF With Marc MaronI’ve been listening to a lot of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast recently, which is more than a little responsible for the creation of this site. Take a listen, if you haven’t. Marc has an amazing interview style. He turns most every question into a question about himself. While this might make it seem like Marc is full of himself, he isn’t. Marc’s openness regarding every part of his personal life allows the people he is interviewing to open up and reveal their own guarded triumphs and insecurities.

And wouldn’t you know it? Celebrities are people. The more open Marc is, the more open they are, the more you feel a little better about yourself. This isn’t a matter of taking joy in the misery of others. This is a realization that there are people out there who have gone through things similar to you. People who continue to move on and create in spite of setbacks.

I’m no expert. I like to say that I’m okay at a lot of things, but not great at anything. At least, I like to say that in my head. Not to other people.

This site will fill itself with my personal musings about creative routines and the like. But these aren’t instructional howtos. There are no shortcuts to “hack your brain” here. These are observations from someone who you might see a little of yourself in. Someone who keeps plugging along, because they find joy in creation.

And I’m not trying to be full of myself. I’m simply putting myself out there and hoping it helps out others who feel and work the same way.

And if you don’t work the same way, feel free to laugh at me. But do it behind my back, if you’d be so kind. Thanks in advance!

One of These Days I Gotta Get Myself Organizized

Joseph Gordon-LevittThis site, a project itself, is part of another project I’m working on. Don’t worry, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We aren’t going any deeper than that.

It’s time to revamp AricMcKeown.com. Right now, it’s a dumping ground for whatever my brain spits out. Or it was. Let’s see here, the last post was from September of 2010. Huh. The site represents my actual laziness pretty well.

Maybe I shouldn’t lead with that. My online doppelganger could use some cleaning up. We’re moving the “projects” aspect and the “where to find Aric’s projects” over here. How do you do?

Brain dumps don’t belong there. They are better left fro Tumblr or Twitter sites. Not to pollute like a sewage line, but entertain like a sewage line with a grate at the end to catch some of the junk.

Next, resume time. Acting resume. When is the last time I updated this thing? What’s my suit size? Maybe I’d know if I bought suits. Oh, and I should get new headshots. And I’ll need to redesign the site. Save the content I like. Remove the rest.

Uck. It’s like cleaning a virtual house. And I’m no good at cleaning the regular kind of house.

Okay. Headshots scheduled for May 10th. Sounds like I gave myself a deadline to clean up AricMcKeown.com. I’ll get started on that May 9th.

Working Ahead

A capsule library at your fingertipsIs something I’m bad at. Did that work? The title being part of the first sentence? Bah. I’ll say it again in case it was dumb. Working ahead is something I’m bad at.

If a project needs to be done at 5pm on a Sunday evening, the project will expand fill the time between now and 5pm on a Sunday evening.

No. That’s wrong. In fact, it’s the opposite. The project will condense and shift. Where a normal person might start working on this imaginary project on Tuesday evening, I’ll get started on Sunday morning. However, I will stress out about starting the project from Tuesday evening to Sunday morning. That sort of counts as working on it, right?

I know working ahead and not procrastinating would lead to more fun, but I’ve delayed completion of projects my entire life. In middle school I’d finish my homework, but not turn it in. Does that make any sense at all? I did the work. Why wouldn’t I turn that damn stuff in? Maybe fear of judgement. Oh boy, let’s not get off topic here.

Saying “it’s how I work” seems lame, but it’s how I feel. I get a lot of good stuff done at the last minute. Then again, a lot of good stuff probably slips through the cracks of time when I leave everything to the last moments.

There must be a way to combat this procrastination. Pretending the deadline is earlier doesn’t work. Knowing that working ahead is good for me doesn’t work. Turning off the TV doesn’t work.

I’ll do some thinking on this. I don’t have any answers. When logic and non-logic don’t work, what other options are left? At least I’m still finding ways to get stuff done.

And if anyone from work is reading this, I’m talking about my free-time creative projects. I’ll get to your stuff in a second.

Trading Spouses and Make Me Watch TV

I ran a site called Make Me Watch TV for about a year. We’ll go into more detail about that project it in a future post, but I’ll give you a quick explanation of the site now.

I allowed strangers to vote on what I should watch every weekday evening. I would then blog about the experience live while on webcam. Pretty simple. Pretty stupid.

The site has been a graveyard for a few years, except for the comments section for one post. I was forced to watch a particularly controversial episode of Trading Spouses. The episode gets rerun every so often, and when it does people look for someplace to fight about it. They find my site.

It’s at 125 comments and counting. It’s pretty interesting stuff. People start by commenting on how terrible one family on the show is, and end up yelling about the reality of reality television. It’s a peek into the minds of the TV watching and internet fighting populace.

And for the Godwin’s law staticians, Hilter was brought up in the 8th comment.

Weekends: The Struggle

Anti- Hobo CouchI sure hope you’re not visiting this site for “life hacks” on better ways of getting things done. Sure, it seems like I’m giving out advice. But I’m really only showing you how I process and work (or don’t work) on ideas and projects. Maybe you see yourself in some of these articles. Maybe you see the opposite of yourself. This site could be a “how-to” or a “do-not” depending on how you work. I’m not sure how to spin this weekend though.

What did I get done this weekend? Ummmm.

I recorded a story for somebody else’s podcast. I finally finished Halo: Reach. I tried to watch City Island. I tried to watch Monsters. I tried to watch Winter’s Bone. I successfully watched The Fighter.

Should I have written something more for this blog? Yes. Should I have worked on scripts for my video projects? Yes. Should I have written more scripts for Blank It? Yes.

It doesn’t feel good to not get things done, but sometimes you can’t get yourself going. It’s difficult to do things in the present so that your future self doesn’t feel like past you screwed him over. I think that sentence worked. We’ll say it did.

Creativity ebbs and flows. Sometimes you’re inspired and other times you want to eat cool ranch chips and watch Kurt Russel escape from someplace. There are tricks to shorten the ebbs and lengthen the flows (gross). Just realize that sometimes you’ll wear yourself out if you’re fighting against the current. There are times to push through and times wait for the next round of inspiration.

You want one trick to take away from this? Sorry. I don’t have one. Sometimes weekends, when you have the most free time to create, are simply for sitting on the couch.

Permission to Fail

Back to the Future IIYou’re holding yourself back if you aren’t giving yourself permission to fail.

Oh, and whenever I say “you” I’m really saying “me.” But hopefully my mes are relatable to your yous.

Permission to fail isn’t the same as giving up. If your only option is success, you’re going to try a lot less things. And even then, you might fail.

The more willing you are to go out there and try, the more chances you have to succeed. This is starting to sound a lot like dating advice. Did I mention you should wear a pink scarf and those Back to the Future 2 sunglasses from McDonald’s?

Failure is scary. It doesn’t feel good. But it is going to happen. No matter what, you’re going to fail at some things. And you’ll learn from them. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll succeed. And that will feel pretty great.

Ratios, right? It’s all about ratios. What if you succeed 5% of the time and fail 95%? Then the more you try, the more you’ll succeed.

So give yourself permission to fail, but only if you’re actually trying. If you limp into something because it’s okay to fail, then you haven’t learned a thing here. Jeez, commit to your projects already! Good luck with your weekend, not-learner!

The First Friday Brainstorm

Okay, folks. Let’s get some comments going with a Friday brainstorm game. Let’s play it like this!

I’ll name an idea that is two words long. Like “curry popsicle.” Then the next comment should use “popsicle” with another word. Like “popsicle sandwich.” And the next comment would be, all, “sandwich bed.” And then “bed sleeves.”

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Just take the last word and use it as the first word. Got it? Okay. Your staring words are:



Running Out of Ideas

I’m not running out of ideas. However, after posting my entry about “blogging every day” (and let’s be real, I meant every weekday) I became concerned that I would run out of things to write about here. But how does that fear help in any way? It doesn’t.

I wrote three entires yesterday, and part of me thought about holding on to one post for today. Just in case. In case my brain blanked out. But I didn’t hold on. I let the articles fly and hoped that something would spark an entry for today.

Succeeding by holding back seemed like a terrible idea. I could game the system. The system that I set up. If I held back my blog entries, surely I could make posting every day a reality. There is no fun in that though.

I’m flying by the seat of my pants and writing as things come to me. I might run out of ideas, but I’m not going to hold back just because of what might happen.

If a Project Falls in the Forest

ForestIf you never tell anybody about a project you’re working on, and it fails, does it really matter?

I have an illogical hangup that involves not telling people about exciting things I am working on. I feel that, if I tell anybody, then I’m jinxing it.

Example? During my Make Me Watch TV days, I was approached to be a commentator on a Toronto television program where people talk about pop-culture things as they fly quickly past your TV screen. I know you’ve seen VH1 before. Like that.

Okay. So I didn’t tell a lot of people about it, because I had this gnawing feeling that it wouldn’t happen. But I still chatted it up. And it fell through.

Would it have fallen through if I didn’t tell anybody about it? Of course. But then I would be the only one who knew nothing had come of it. So why does that matter?

It doesn’t matter. Someone might say “hey, how is that thing going?” And then I’d say “it isn’t.” Then it’d uncomfortable for a second, and we would move on.

What is the upside of telling people about your projects? Support. It’s hard to go through the world alone. We’re all scared, right? Why not have people rooting for you?

If you keep trying, no one will call you a failure. So what if something you tried didn’t pan out? You’re not through.

So my upcoming projects, which are little to unknown? Making new Danny Washington and Educational Egg videos with MPLS.TV. Making new So I Am Told videos for a yet unannounced comedy website. And making Mustache Rangers puppet videos with an extremely talented video producer.

Will these projects succeed or fail? Who knows? But I’m trying. And I’m trying publicly. And if they do fail, it won’t be because I told you.

Unless you sabotage me. That’d be a weird thing for you to do. What gives?

But I’ve Failed Before

Notebook collectionSo you’ve failed! Who cares? I can’t count the times I’ve said I’ll blog every day, and then haven’t. But I’m trying again.

So what makes now different? Everything. Every time you try something, it’s different. That sounds pretty obvious, but let’s continue.

Did you continue? Come on. It’s not the longest blog entry. Keep reading.

When trying anything again, you’re not starting from scratch. Starting again isn’t like a blank piece of paper with endless possibilities. Think of each attempt as the next page in a notebook. There are pages before and pages after. And the pages before show that you’re willing to try. And the fact that you’re on a new page means you want to continue trying.

The time is different. The circumstances are different. Maybe it’s a day, a week, or a month later. Maybe you’re busier. Maybe you’re bored…er. Time moves forward, and you’re moving along with it. If there’s something you want to do but haven’t been able to, there’s no shame in trying again. You might make it happen this time. That’d be pretty great.

I’m typing this blog entry the day before it is posted. That isn’t cheating, is it? I’m counting it as three days of blog entries.