Too Much Information? Creative Catch-Up Summer Special

During Summer I think most of us naturally want to feel a bit lighter on our feet, to get out and about (if the weather is willing) and explore, and have fun (yes such a thing does exist apparently).

Which is why I think a lot of people are re-examining their social media, email and online reading habits again and realising that maybe they are spending just a little bit too long staring at their computer/smartphone/iPad screens (or possibly all three).

It might also be to do with the fact we’re now more than half-way through the year, and people start to realise that they’ve not achieved as much as they’d hoped when the year began – and so decide to look at ways to make time for their creative projects.

Creative Catch Up – May 2011

Wedding pic by our friends Colin and Sharon Kirby (not sure which one of them took it!)

Hi, I’m back – successfully married and honeymooned, and despite a two day delay returning due to Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud, feeling pretty refreshed and ready for the rest of the year.

Our wedding day was absolutely fantastic, and really surpassed all of our expectations in terms of how much fun it was and how well everything went. We haven’t got hold of the official photos just yet but when we do I’ll share one or two here and a few more details of the day itself (if you’ll forgive the self-indulgence).

Morning Routines and Other Goals

Thanks so much to everyone for their comments on the My Morning Routine FAIL post at the start of the month, I was blown away by the reaction. I’m determined to try setting a decent routine again and thanks to the really helpful comments have a number of new ideas to try and help me stick to it this time. I’ll give an update in a month or two as to how it’s going.

In terms of other personal goals, now that the wedding’s in the bag, My wife (!) and I will have some time in our schedule so we really want to get back into running again. We ran a couple of 10ks over a year ago but since then have done very little. So we’ve decided to sign up for the Great Edinburgh 10k Run on 2nd October. This just happens to be the day after my birthday which makes it an ideal goal for the second half of the year.

Reading about being self-disciplined

Although I tried to avoid social networking whilst on honeymoon I still took some time to read blogs using the free wi-fi in the hotel. Having so clearly failed at self-discipline I was heartened to read that Leo Babauta, whose achievements are many, considers the whole thing a myth. He says that motivation is what’s important.

However Trent Hamm of the Simple Dollar believes that what we call it doesn’t matter, the key is to shift the balance so that the preferred behaviour is now easier than the old, negative behaviour.

On the same topic, Lifehacker linked to an interesting piece over at The Energy Project on getting important things done without exhausting your mental energy.

Maybe the problem is that we will always end up frustrated because we want too much? My friend Nate at Fearless Endeavours suggests we try to focus on ‘wanting what we already have’. Gratitude is definitely a good way of improving your happiness, and it can be very easy to lose sight of. This was a welcome reminder.

New Streamlined Schedule

As you may already know, I’ve struggled a bit to maintain the twice weekly schedule on the blog and weekly email newsletter I started in January. I’ve decided that to make things more manageable and give you a better  idea of what to expect I will be cutting it down to one definite post a week, at least for the next few months. So here’s what you can now expect each month:

  • One in-depth article on Clear-Minded Creativity
  • One Clear-Minded Creative Types interview
  • One Clear-Minded Classics book review
  • One monthly Creative Catch Up with links to other great blog posts and other info

The newsletters will continue to be weekly to ensure you don’t miss anything – and will also include links to other content and additional info that I won’t be sharing on the blog. So if you’re not subscribed, you’re really only getting half the story!

And I’ll still be hanging out and posting regular links to great content on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook so hopefully I’ll see you there too.

Share Your Wares Sunday

Which reminds me to remind you that you’re always welcome to share your latest creative projects on the Facebook page each Sunday, and I might even include it in the monthly catch-up posts. If you’re a bit shy about putting your stuff forward this is a good way to get started, and if you’re not shy then why aren’t you already doing it ;)

This month I’m grateful to Paul Forrester and Emily Dodd for keeping things alive whilst I was in wedding mode. Paul has written a great poem about the secret life of shopping trolleys (and is clearly coming on leaps and bounds with his poetry) and Emily has put together a great local nature round up for the month. I know this is only the tip of the iceberg as to what both have going on at the moment – it’s great to see them both doing so well.

On a sadder note, I was very disappointed to find out that the Guardian Edinburgh blog was being closed down after only a year. Michael MacLeod, who ran the blog has been a great supporter of The Clear-Minded Creative and many other great creative initiatives throughout the city and was nice enough to include the launch of this blog as one of January’s highlights in his final ‘best of’ post. I wish him all the best in whatever he does next.

Creative Catch Up – April

I’m writing this post at an Edinburgh blogger’s meet up at Sofi’s bar in Leith organised by Georgia of IdeaSpotting. It’s an attempt to be sociable *and* get some blogging done, so I’m interested to see if it’s possible to do both at the same time!

Mainly because I’ve not been very good at making the time to post recently (as you may have noticed). And maybe, just maybe, a bit of friendly peer pressure will help..

I figured I’d try and reignite the blogging spark by doing a short round-up post. I used to do these on my personal blog and they were quite popular. It might be that these are better suited for Sundays in future, to tie in with..

Share Your Wares Sundays

I asked people to share something creative they’d completed during the week on the Facebook page each Sunday. It’s had a pretty good reaction so far, especially considering I haven’t done an awful lot to publicise it yet.

Emily Dodd shared the story of 11 year old Adam Bojelian who can’t speak or write with a pen but creates poetry by blinking. Emily just happened to be at the bloggers’ meet up too, and she told me how she met Adam and his mum at a recent Social Media Surgery in Edinburgh. Following Emily’s excellent advice on getting the word out they have now raised over £2,000 for his trike ride to support disabled children and their families.

Baker at Catfish Parade also posted his reaction to a post by Mars Dorian which has created a bit of a stir.

Basically Mars reckons that trying to do too many things at once is a recipe for career disaster. He strongly advises against trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Now a lot of bloggers are multi-talented and proud of it, so there was a bit of a backlash.

Personally I’m a little torn about this one. I really enjoy Mars’s blog because he isn’t afraid to make strong arguments, and I basically agree with his essential point – he’s suggesting clarity and focus is best when communicating who you are with other people – which is basically the message of this blog too.

I think though that who we are and what we do in life evolves naturally over time, so it’s not like we have to choose one thing and stick to it. But maybe it’s a good idea to define what we do in a clearer way. What do you think?

Please do visit the Facebook page and have a look at all the cool creative projects that other people have been posting.

Tumbling again

I’ve also started posting some interesting stuff on the Clear-Minded Creative tumblr page. This content feeds through to Facebook but if you’re on Tumblr you might prefer to follow it that way. Tumblr is a great way to find really cool content and also a good way to try out blogging if you’ve not done it before, because it’s so easy to use.

I loved this quote in particular:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. – Ira Glass via Sam Sketch

And to go back to Mars Dorian, here’s his advice on how to close the gap.

p.s. You can also submit your creative work to the Tumblr blog if you ‘re not a fan of Facebook.

So, I did get a blog post out of the meet-up, as well as meeting some interesting new people – including unashamed gossip-monger Andrew Burnett and film blogger Mark Davidson. And congratulations to co-organiser Trudy Peaches who published her very first blog post whilst she was there!

In the meantime, now that I’m back in the blogging mindset, keep an eye out for another great interview and more coming very soon..

Creative Types Catch Up

Pears in bowl - by Elizabeth Destouches

Hello! No, I haven’t forgotten you, I’ve just been a bit disorganised recently.

Firstly, thanks very much to Elizabeth and Paul for sharing their creative work on Facebook as part of Share Your Wares Sunday. Now I know full well that a lot more of you are doing good stuff (hint – blog posts count as creative too), so feel free to share what you’re up to either over on Facebook or in the comments. I’ll not limit it to Sundays but that would be the best day as it allows me to keep track of it.

Ten Top Creative Types

There are now 10 Clear-Minded Creative types featured on this blog, not to mention the Four Creative Types that I interviewed for www.gaseousbrain.com (who were the unwitting guineapigs for the series).

And although there’s plenty more interviews with inspiring creative people to come, I’ve not had the chance to get them online for a couple of weeks (apologies) so it seems like as good a time as any to catch up with what our ten creative types so far have been up to.

Japan

I’m still reeling from what’s happened in Japan, it’s almost unimaginable what people went through when the earthquake and tsunami struck and are continuing to go through with the aftermath, especially the truly terrifying nuclear power station problems. It certainly puts things into perspective in my own little life, where I often complain for the sake of complaining, forgetting how truly fortunate I am.

  • Hande Zapsu Watt and her friends at the Istanbul Review are asking people to make 1000 folded cranes to send a message of hope to the children of Japan, it’s a really nice idea and I hope you consider getting involved as it is definitely an opportunity to do something creative and feel you’re making a contribution. Of course you can also help in other ways – Google’s crisis response page is a good place to start, and Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen also has suggestions of how to help out.
  • Andrew Eaton is still posting some of his more obscure recordings on his ‘Might Make a B-Side’ blog, and through his label Biphonic Records (which he runs with Swimmer One bandmate Hamish Brown) he’s releasing a new album by a band called Luxury Car which is worth checking out.
  • Mr Thom Chambers has released the most recent issue of In Treehouses, called The Profit of Free which is all about using free content to build an audience. As always, it’s beautifully designed and acts as a teaser for his new product, the Free Fans Kit which looks very useful indeed.
  • Our most recent interview was with Mary Gordon of Creative voyage who’s got an interesting post on ‘the joy of part-time work’. I would agree, but I’ve only actually had two of my Monday’s free since going part-time as I’ve been working freelance or travelling back from family visits all of the other days. But yes, in theory, I agree  :)

So, what creative stuff have you been up to? Let me know in the comments!

* Affiliate links – if you buy, I get a cut. I only recommend things I own myself and have found useful.