Pratfalls of Parenting

Pratfalls of ParentingPratfalls of Parenting is a podcast hosted by my friend Levi Weinhagen. It focuses on the creative process and how it is affected by being a parent. As I have newly joined the parental ranks, Levi invited me on the show.

My episode of Pratfalls of Parenting speaks a lot about adoption, race, and creativity. If one or all of those topics interest you, then you’d be a fool to pass up giving the show a listen.

If none of those topics interest you, you’re reading the wrong blog. Get outta here.

The Plateau of Laziness

Lazy CatI’ve never been, but I hear that hitting rock bottom is hard to miss. What’s harder to recognize is the plateau of your own effort. It’s hard to recognize because it feels fine, like a warm bath. You’re doing what you have been for the past several months and things aren’t getting worse. But you’re not growing.

If your work were easy, you might recognize something is off and make a correction. But when your work is in that Goldilocks zone of feeling just right, your efforts can stall out. You become a whale enjoying a day on the beach. And if you will remember, whales do not belong on beaches.

There is nothing wrong with taking a step back and enjoying the work you’ve done and continue to do. If you’re not getting enjoyment from what you do, then what’s the point? But feeling content can be a sign of stagnation. I’m not saying contentment means the death of creativity, but it wouldn’t kill you to take a look inside and see why you’re feeling content.

Hopefully, any self exploration will bring you the answer. If you find the words “good enough,” you might be in trouble. If you find the words “extremely happy with where I’m at,” please share your secrets with the rest of the world.

The recognition of this plateau of laziness should be enough to snap you out of your lull. It’ll feel like your eyes have been closed and you’re suddenly awake. Use the energy that comes with this discovery to push you into great work. Be prepared to recognize when you become contented again, and be ready to break into that cycle sooner. Perhaps, with time and effort, you can practically eliminate the plateau. An expert sailor, navigating around the stagnant air pockets in your brain!

The next magic trick is to marry satisfaction with continued progress. I’ll let you know if I figure that one out.

Where’s Your Taco Stand?

Man who served time for wife's murder starts over with taco stand
An article from The Clinton Herald has been displayed on my fridge for the last few years. The headline states that a “Man who served time for wife’s murder starts over with taco stand.” When I first saw the article, I assumed it was about a wrongly accused man getting his life back on track. Nope! It’s about a man who actually murdered his wife, did his time, and then opened a taco stand with help from his parents.

This article has amused me for years because of what I expected the article to be and how different the real article was. And then the other day, the article took on new meaning for me. I passed the fridge like usual, because it’s the best way to get from my kitchen to my living room, when the article became about productivity instead of changed expectations.

This man murdered his wife, moved on, and started a business. A murderer opened a taco stand. Why is it so hard for me to write a new blog article, make a new podcast, or work on funding video projects when someone who could easily have given up opened a taco stand. My excuses are piddly compared to the adversity this murderer surely faces.

So where is my taco stand? What is stopping me from working hard to achieve my goals? Fear of failure? This man is bouncing back from murder. If we had a conversation, I would say something like “I’m just feeling really beat today and I’d rather watch American Ninja Warrior.” Then he would say “I murdered someone and live with that every day and now I run a taco business.” Then he’d probably say “checkmate” or I’d say “touche,” depending on the levity of the conversation.

I’m not saying the obstacles of laziness or apathy aren’t real. They’re very real and can feel like mountains in the way of progress. But did you murder someone? No? Then you can probably dig up 20 minutes to be productive.

And maybe you did murder someone. That’s a pretty big deal. But you could still open up a taco stand.

The Neglected Lawn

No Lawn Mowing Today!One big issue that comes with being focused on your creative projects is you focus to the determent of your non-creative responsibilities. Let’s just use, as an example, my lawn.

I haven’t mowed my lawn this year. I’m going to do it today! I swear! But here is a little story that comes along with the lawn neglect.

I do not live near a body of water, but ducks love to nest in my backyard. So, this Saturday, I stepped out into my yard to see if any waterfowl were making themselves a nice home.

While I was standing in the middle of the yard, my backyard neighbor lady (technical term, I know) leaves her house. Noticing me in the yard, she says “hope you’re thinking about mowing.”

Okay, yeah. The yard is a mess. And I will mow it. But, first off, that’s a weird thing to say to anyone in passing.

But second, these are the first words she has spoken to me in the four years I have lived in my home. If I had any presence of mind, I would have said “nice to meet you too.” But I didn’t. Oh, missed opportunities.

So, somewhat out of spite, I didn’t rush to mow my yard. I went inside and worked on some podcast projects.

But I will mow lawn. And, a nice “how are you” would be a better first time greeting, backyard neighbor lady.

The Deafening Echo

Yell - BarnstapleI was going to use a “does it make a sound” title for this post, but I already did that. It’d be a shame to start repeating myself so quickly. It might not matter to anyone aside from me, but it’d still matter.

There wasn’t a blog entry yesterday, and that destroys my latest attempt to “blog every day.” Hold on a second while I look up “bootstraps.” Hmmm. The origin of that phrase makes little sense. Let’s not get hung up on it.

This site, which is in its infancy, only gets traffic when I bug people on Twitter or Facebook about a new article. If there is no new entry for the day, the same amount of people visit the site as would if I wrote an entry and didn’t bug the world about it.

It’s really just an excuse, but it’s still hard. Creating without outside reaction is lonely. That’s probably why any god who creates the universe also needs to make people, so they can say “See? Yeah? Pretty good, right?” But then who will react to the people that the god creates? Let’s not get into paradoxes, okay?

So the site keeps rolling, waiting for things to catch on. Waiting for RSS subscribers and links from other sites. Until then, I’ll have to keep yelling out into internet with the hopes that someone will hear the yelling and like it.

Nobody likes yelling. I’ll speak at a reasonable level.

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.

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.