Tag Archives: creativity

Stretching Your Mind: Your Mind as a Rubber Band

Rubber BandsYour mind is a reservoir of creative potential, just waiting for you to develop and nurture it. Too many people say they aren’t creative. I say – they either haven’t developed their creativity or are looking at creativity through a narrow focus.

Your Mind as a Rubber Band

I want you to picture a rubber band, one of the really thick, strong one’s used for bundling large packages. You’ve just taken it out of it’s box and what’s the first thing you do with it? You stretch it. Stretch it out to soften it. Coming straight out of the box it’s stiff and inflexible. After stretching it a few times it becomes softer, more pliable and stretchier.

Now imagine your mind as that rubber band. As we put creative ideas, dreams and inspiration into it, your mind stretches and flexes around the new thoughts. As the mind is stretched it becomes more capable to stretch and flex, able to accommodate and generate more and greater ideas and creativity.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said “The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.” Once you’ve added a new idea into your head it creates a new neural pathway within your mind. The dendrites and synaptic buttons in your brain form new connections within the biochemical/electromagnetic network of cells and nerves. (for more information on how this works, see The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan)

Just like the rubber band becomes able to stretch more, your mind is expanded and able to accommodate more growth. Over time those pathways become a permanent part of your mind and enable more and more creativity to happen. They become reinforced, stronger and reinforced through repetition, enabling them to develop side pathways of their own.

Use It or Lose It

Now think of a rubber band that has been left in the drawer, unused and neglected for a long time. What does it look like? Dull, white-coated, shrunken. What happens when you try to use it? It snaps, yes? It’s flexibility and potential has been lost because it was not used.

Growing Pains

Ever felt the pain of trying to learn something new? Been to a seminar or workshop and heard so much you want to ask the speaker to stop so you can process the information? That vertical learning curve of working to master a new skill? I have a friend who called that discomfort a ‘mind expansion headache’. It’s when information is packed into your head faster than your brain can comfortably adapt and stretch to accommodate it.

That rubber band around your mind becomes stretched to the max, working hard to assimilate and understand the new ideas being poured in. Now think about how you feel a little later on, when you’ve had time to understand, work through and use some of the new information. Feels better, yes? That’s because your mind has adjusted and expanded to fit those ideas in.

Your mind is more than a muscle. In fact, it’s actually a bundle of nerves and pathways more than a muscle, but that’s beside the point. Creativity, stretching and using your mind, increases the capability of your mind. It’s a catch-22 in reverse – the more you use and develop your mind creatively then the more able and capable you are of developing it more. Like an ever expanding spiral your creativity develops as you stretch that rubber band more and more.

How Far Can You Stretch?

Visualise stretching that rubber band again. Really see it in your mind, your hands stretching that band out for maximum flexibility. Watch the movement of your hands and the rubber band. See how you’re doing it? If you’re like me, then you’re stretching it out and then allowing it to relax back before stretching it out again. Just as the band needs to relax, so too does your mind. The relaxing allows the creativity to flow and settle, before stretching out again further than before. The rest, the relaxing, is just as important as the stretching and development.

How far can a rubber band stretch? How much can your mind hold and process? Eventually the rubber band will snap when it reaches its limits. Your mind however, has no such physical limits. Provided you take breaks, relaxing the stretch, your mind can develop and expand infinitely. The only limits we have on our minds are those we put there ourselves. Allow your brain time to relax and process the information you’ve put into it and you’ll quickly be able to develop more creative ideas and expand it further.

About Melinda

Melinda BrennanMelinda Brennan is a Business Coach who helps her clients use the power of their own minds to develop their businesses and get past limiting beliefs.

Visit her online at WAHM Biz Builder

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Turning Off The Autopilot: Six Ways to Bring Creativity to Daily Life

  • Someday Lesson: Creativity isn’t about producing world-shaking pieces of art. It’s simply changing the way you look at the world.

Phillie Casablanca on flickr.comWhen we think of creativity we think of art: painting, acting, singing, writing, crafts, and such. If we’re being generous we might call science research or computer programming creative. And of course, management gurus talk about creative problem solving without anyone really quite sure what they mean.

But what about daily life? Where’s the creativity in getting up, getting the kids to school, going to work, trying to fit in some exercise, fighting the battle of the bulge, tuning out in front of the TV and falling into bed exhausted before starting it all over the next day?

According to Wikipedia, creativity is:

Creativity is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas or concepts. Creativity is fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight. An alternative conception of creativeness (based on its etymology) is that it is simply the act of making something new.

When we get stuck in routine and living on autopilot, nothing’s new. It’s all the same day after day after soul-sucking day. Turning off the autopilot isn’t easy, however. Habits and routines (especially unconscious ones) are hard to break. Fortunately conscious creativity will help and here are six ways to turn off the autopilot and to help you live more fully.

  1. Don’t always do things the same way
  2. Make yourself accountable for every minute
  3. Do things you wouldn’t normally do
  4. Live in someone else’s shoes
  5. Explore a new environment
  6. Learn to do absolutely nothing

Break Patterns

Take a different route to work. Make a sandwich with two slices of ham around a piece of bread. Eat dinner in reverse (dessert to maincourse to salad). When you start to break patterns in your life you force your brain out of its ruts and open yourself up to new ideas and new ways of thinking.

Be aware of why you do things in a certain way. If you answer “because I’ve always done it this way” then the next time you do it break the pattern and try doing it a new way.

Be Hyper-Scheduled

People think creativity and new ideas come from chaos, but think of people like da Vinci and Michelangelo – they weren’t chaotic artists. They were tradesmen who worked hard and worked to a schedule. Haydn and Bach had to come up with new pieces of art on a regular basis or risk getting fired by their patrons.

Become a taskmaster and schedule yourself and clear out the distractions that keep you from making creative leaps in whatever you do.

Be Spontaneous

Most of us have schedules – and we like our schedules and routines. Break out of routine periodically and do something that embarrasses you slightly like karaoke or a nudist beach or even holding hands with your spouse as you walk through the mall.

And if someone suggests something that you wouldn’t normally do, say “yes” right away not giving yourself a chance to think about it.

Trade Roles

How many movies are their along the lines of Freaky Friday or books like the Prince and the Pauper? By putting yourself in someone else’s shoes you’ll break yourself out of regular patterns of behaviour and thought opening yourself up to new experiences.

Of course you might not be able to do this work-wise, but at home, trade around what you do with family members. Kids become the parents for a day and the husband becomes the wife. Have fun with it!

Change locations

House swap with friends for a week and break even more patterns. Go big and do a house swap vacation or even a work exchange in some other part of the world. Or go small and rearrange your office, putting the desk in some spot in the room that you least expect it to be.

And in meetings or classes, don’t sit in the same seat. Make a conscious effort to sit in a different spot every time you enter the room.

Stare at the Wall

Most times we’re a go-go-go culture and when we do turn off we do so in front of the computer or TV. I’m not talking about meditation where you focus on your breathing and try to clear your mind. Staring at the wall is simply sitting on the couch or bed with nothing in your hands and nothing distracting your vision.

It will likely feel uncomfortable, but by pushing past the discomfort your mind will start filling with ideas, often coming up with solutions to problems that have been plaguing you and have been avoiding resolution.

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Controlling Creativity: Timeblocking My Way to Success

  • Someday Lesson: Creativity and chaos are not synonyms.

Third1 on Flickr.comWhen we think of a typical artist, we picture a person living in chaos, papers or paint everywhere, abandoned food rotting on the table (or floor), appointments forgotten, and sleep patterns only a chaos scientist could understand.

Ask many writers about their writing process (or watch movies about writing such as Stranger Than Fiction or I Capture the Castle) and you’ll get an impression that this chaos does nothing for getting writing done (contrary to popular belief). In fact, many writers (myself included) will often do anything other than write (so indulge the chaos). You see, as much as we love the creative process, it overwhelms us.

I don’t know about other writers but for me, when I write I feel all the emotions of my characters often all at once and this avalanche of feeling plugs my ability to get the words down on paper. In her fantastic course, How to Think Sideways (now off the market), Holly Lisle says:

We want and need feelings. We will die inside without them. But sometimes, sometimes…sometimes, dammit, we need to think. You cannot plan a career with the thinking half of your brain tied behind your back.

NaNoWriMo as Motivator

Many writers use National Novel Writing Month (which started November 1st) as a way to apply discipline and get themselves thinking as well as feeling. A writer “wins” NaNoWriMo if he or she can get 50,000 words written in the month.

Although I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo, I did it once (but didn’t “win”) in 2007. I credit the month with giving me the drive and the habit to write regularly and push through to the end of long projects.

With everything else going on in my life, I don’t have the time to commit to the NaNoWriMo schedule, but the idea of corralling creativity through structure gave me a different idea.

Extreme Structure

This month I plan to take structure to an extreme. I’ve set up my Google Calendar to ring an alarm through the day to move me onto the next task in my list regardless of where I am in the task.

I’ve broken my day into sections, anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. I also have marked off breaks where I will purposefully NOT be productive. By being so rigid with m schedule I hope to increase my productivity, focus more on what I really want to get done, and have more time dedicated to non-productive activities (like doing things with the boyfriend).

Throughout the month, I’ll be reporting my progress here on the blog, because of course, an experiment has no worth if no one measures the before and after. And what will I be measuring?

  1. Amount of writing done (word count / progress on an outline)
  2. Guest posts written
  3. Blogs commented on
  4. Various Someday Syndrome visitor statistics
  5. And various other actions that should draw in more readers and clients.

Someday-Busting Contest

Now it’s your turn. I’m sure there’s some way that right now you could put just a little more structure in your life and in turn be more creative with your time.

Either email me or leave a comment here below with your structured-creativity intention and at the end of the month I’ll pick one person to win a month of Someday-Busting Email Coaching.

Speaking of which, I’d like to congratulate Emma for winning the October contest. At the end of the month maybe we’ll get her to do an update to her Someday Syndrome Interview and see how the month has changed her situation.

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Patience Rewards the Dedicated: Tara Swiger Interview

One thing many people (myself included) forget about achieving happiness is to have patience. Fortunately this week’s interview with Tara Swiger offers a great reminder of just how long it takes to achieve our goals, but how awesome we feel when we do.

Who: Tara Swiger of Blonde Chicken Boutique
Tara is a yarn-maker who loves sharing local, sustainable fibers that inspire creativity.

Tara SwigerName one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
Before I started the business, I moved and couldn’t find a job that fulfilled my creativity. Months went by and there was little hope for having any career other than secretary. I found that working with yarn, knitting and spinning, and connecting with other knitters online made everything a little brighter.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
I needed to recognize that the outside world wasn’t going to provide me with an awesome job. My talents and interests are varied and they couldn’t fit in any institution. By accepting this, I accepted that I needed to make my OWN job, one where I could explore creativity and business and fun.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I kept knitting and spinning. I started talking to everyone about it. I learned that my thing, my yarn and my vision, was something I could contribute to the world. It was a bunch of little, tiny actions, that led to me selling the yarn.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
The actions were so small and slow, that there wasn’t one big YAY moment until 3 years after my business began, when I realized I could quit my dayjob.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
I’d like to take local fleeces and have them (without chemicals) millspun into a yarn that I’d dye. Whenever I start to work on this, it all seems a bit overwhelming

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I’m meeting more local farmers and learning about the milling process, researching mills that process wool without chemicals. I’m also working on being OK with the big-ness of it.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Oh, I’m not sure I’d want to avoid any part of the path. My advice is to try new things. Throw out the stuff that doesn’t work and then try something new.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
Patience. I’ve built everything in tiny steps and when big challenges/ideas occur, I need patience to remember to keep taking tiny steps.

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Stop Saying “Someday” to Your Writing

  • Someday Lesson: Systems help overcome fear and get you moving towards your dreams.

Yesterday I wrote about break the hold procrastination has over us and in almost every area of my life I’ve done just that. I’m productive, I move things forward bit by bit and I do what I love.

And yet when it comes to my fiction, I avoid writing like the plague even though it’s my number one passion. And I know I’m not alone. Many authors talk about the fear of the blank page – the fear of not writing something good, of never getting published, of wasting our lives on something that no one will ever read.

I could let that fear run my life and ruin any chance of ever getting published, or I could do something proactive to remove the fear and create a system that develops solid, sellable ideas and provides me with a way to move forward at a steady pace without feeling like I’m forcing myself to write.

Fortunately I didn’t have to create the system myself though. Instead I found a program developed by prolific writer Holly Lisle, called How To Think Sideways. This Career School for Writers has been teaching me how to structure my creativity in a way that enhances the ability of my muse to come up with great ideas that I’m passionate about following through on. And it sets up a well-ordered process that takes me from the hint of an idea to the finished product.

Although I’m currently only a third of the way through the program, I’ve already seen a huge change in how I write. I no longer see my writing as something huge and looming – a blank unknown that I’m diving into. Instead I see a step-by-step way to move forward and harness my creativity in a way that won’t drive me mad with frustrated starts and stops.

Pretty awesome, eh?

So just what’s in this wonder course? Well…

With this course, Holly Lisle not only stimulates idea generation, but shows how to do it on a deadline. She also shows how to effectively plan your projects as well as walk you through the beginning, middle, and ending sections of your novel.

This course, delivered in weekly lessons, includes:

  • Monthly video that covers the month’s main topic
  • Weekly lessons with assignments
  • Weekly technique demonstrations
  • Monthly checklist of all steps to take
  • A monthly Q&A made up of questions taken from the course forums
  • Private workgroups (optional)
  • Class discussion forum to interact with other students

Writers spend hundreds of dollars taking courses to learn more about their craft. At $47 a month, How to Think Sideways goes above and beyond, showing you how to make the most of your imagination.

Here is a closer look at what you will be learning.

  • Sideways Thinking: Ideas
    • Week 1: How to Break the Four “Thinking” Barriers to Your Success
    • Week 2: How to Discover Your Writing “Sweet Spot”
    • Week 3: How to Generate Ideas On a Deadline
    • Week 4: How to Recognize and Build On Good Ideas
  • Sideways Thinking: Project Planning
    • Week 5: How to Define Your Project’s Needs
    • Week 6: How to Discover (or Create) Your Project’s Market
    • Week 7: How to Develop Your Personal Project System
    • Week 8: How to Plan Your Project While NOT Killing Your Story
  • Sideways Thinking: First Chapters
    • Week 9: How to Write From Inside Your Story
    • Week 10: How to “Plan” Surprises that Surprise Even You
    • Week 11: How to Design Compelling Queries, Proposals, and Sample Chapters
    • Week 12: How to Create, Complicate, and Solve Problems
  • Sideways Thinking: Middles
    • Week 13: “Can’t I Just Kill Them All?” How to Fall In Love With Your Project A Second Time
    • Week 14: How to Find and Use Your “Planned” Surprises
    • Week 15: How to “Hire” Spies, and Why Your Project Needs Them
    • Week 16: How to Assess Your Progress and Make Mid-Course Corrections
  • Sideways Thinking: Endings
    • Week 17: How to Work With Editors, Agents, Marketing Departments, and Artists, and Not Wreck Your Project.
    • Week 18: How to Find the RIGHT Ending
    • Week 19: How to Bend Your Plan Without Breaking It
    • Week 20: How to Write the Ending That Sells the Next Book
  • Sidways Thinking: Wrap Up/Start Again
    • Week 21: How to Plan Your Revision
    • Week 22: How to NOT Fix What Ain’t Broken (While Still Fixing What Is)
    • Week 23v How to Deliver What You Promised and What They Want On Deadline
    • Week 24: How to NOT Be a One-Book Wonder—Learn to Produce Repeatable Results

P.S. Yes, I’m an affiliate of the program, so when you sign up, I make some money off the sale.

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How I Get So Much Done Each Day

  • Someday Lesson: A habit of productivity can remove fear-based procrastination.

boboroshi on flickr.comOn Tuesday I talked about how I’ve upped my productivity and dropped my procrastination by taking on more work instead of cutting back.

Many people thought this counter-intuitive and hard to visualize. So, as explanation, here’s how I plan my day.

As a tracking tool I use an MS Excel file with the month’s dates (minus weekends and statutory holidays) across the top and my tasks in the first column, listed in the order I plan to accomplish them each day. For me, the tasks are:

  • Email
  • Coaching clients
  • Blog / Comments
  • Lab Rats / Newsletter
  • Outside Articles
  • Guest Posts
  • Ebooks
  • Exercise
  • Forums
  • Comments on Blogs
  • Eat Well
  • Novel
  • Short Stories / Submissions
  • Writing Workshops
  • External Newsletters
  • Learning
  • Tweet Throughout the Day

Breaking my day into half-hour blocks, I run through the list, with a few exceptions on time. Exercise takes three to four blocks depending on the activity for the day and Comments on Blogs takes two to three blocks. Eating Well is a reminder to take time to prepare a decent lunch rather than grabbing whatever’s at hand (usually between an hour to an hour and a half). And my Tweeting happens in between the other tasks.

You’ll notice that I’ve loaded up the first part of my day with business related stuff and have left the purely creative for the afternoon. With the long-ish lunch break between, I actually feel like I end one day at lunch time and start a new day afterwards. I emphasize this feeling by leaving the house in the afternoon to do my creative writing. Too many things distract me at home and by always going to the library to write, I create a physical habit – when I’m there I’m fiction-focused, while at home, I’m more business-focused.

If you take the time to count all the blocks you’ll come up with a maximum of 23. That’s an 11.5 hour day. While there are many days I do get it all done, there are just as many others I don’t.

That’s why I use the MS Excel tracking sheet. By putting a “Y” (for yes) under the day’s date I can see what I always work on and what falls through the cracks. For example I’ve had a hard time keeping up with my writing workshops (3 days out of 14 work days), but I can attribute that directly to the acclimatization that Raul and I are going through as he adjusts to unemployment.

For me the greatest advantage of this system is the removal of importance from any one task. Tasks have their designated timeslots and I work on each one because my list tells me so. There’s no prioritizing and no desire to run away from any particular task.

Plus everything moves forward bit by bit. For some the progress might be too slow, but for me I’d much rather see slow steady progress than giant leaps followed by large gaps of nothing.

Edit: You can download a copy of my Sample timeblocking worksheet to play with.

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Creativity & Paying the Bills: Dave Rhodes Interview

Far too many people take themselves too seriously (I should say ourselves and include me in that), so it’s a good thing that people like Dave Rhodes (aka, the Rhodester) is out there keeping it funny. Dave can always be counted on for coming up with the left field response to Tweets and blog posts. Of course I just had to find out his take on Someday Syndrome – and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Enjoy!

Dave RhodesWho: Dave Rhodes of The RhodesTer Chronicles, Shadow of a Troubadour and Armchair Paparazzi.
Dave is an unemployed humorist currently living in the desert and plucking out those pesky alien implants while seeking the meaning of life but trying not to bring the word “existentialism” into it, because it’s too long and he gets bored easily. Like you’re starting to already.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
Gosh, I’ve had so many of those moments, I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite. I wouldn’t want all the others to feel bad. I’ll go with the incident from a few years back wherein I was fired from a dead-end job that had me working too many hours anyway, and I was just in it for the money. The boss fabricated a reason for dismissal and actually forged my signature when I refused to sign it, so that I’d be denied unemployment benefits. That was rather depressing, and I harbored some anger toward him for a while. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to quit working 13-hours a day for them and move on, otherwise I might still be there. So I took off the trench coat, put down the AK-47 and proceeded with the rest of my life. I’m speaking metaphorically here, so please don’t call the cops.. or a shrink.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
When I was really angry, all I could think about – for a very short while – was stalking that boss and doing something to make him extremely miserable. But that’s not me – I’m passionately non-violent and not in the least bit confrontational – so I had to come to grips with these feelings and let them go. I think today I’d buy him a beer and thank him for helping me move on, although I wouldn’t buy him a good beer.. just a can of Budweiser or something.. because I’m still a little pissed off.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I have to credit my wife of almost 19 years (June 2nd, hint hint.. we need new towels) Dorian, who often brings a rationality to the table that I overlook. I’ll be putting out all the fluffy stuff – the cupcakes, candy, soda and so on – and there she is with her rationality, serving it up on a big old silver platter. It’s always the best thing for me and there when I need it, plus it’s filling and nutritious.

It seems that whenever I have a silly idea, like stalking the boss I mentioned and lighting his hair on fire, she talks me out of it by using common sense. She’ll say things like, “They’ll just call the fire department and have you reported for boss-arson and you’ll go to jail, then who’s going to make me tea in the evenings? Michael T. Weiss, that’s who, Buster! So if you want to keep Michael employed in the entertainment business rather than being my man-slave, you’ll leave that horrible boss dude alone and just get on with your life.”

By the way, Michael T. Weiss is this really handsome actor she likes. I would have used someone who’s a little more well known like George Clooney, or a new current favorite, Jon Hamm from “Mad Men,” but she’s honestly not that into either of them.

Oh, and I digress a lot. We’re working on that.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
With the boss-arson incident, like so many others, I just had to come to the rational conclusion that it’s futile to harbor resentment and that moving on and hopefully up is the best thing to do. I moved on but I have yet to move up. I think. The problem is that people define “moving up” differently because it’s really a matter of perspective. I know a guy who sleeps in a cave somewhere out here in the desert (he’s never invited me over for a visit, thank goodness) and he plays his guitar in front of Target for handouts. To him, moving up is having enough to get a motel room at the end of the week and thus a shower. Whenever I’m standing close enough to have a chat with him I’m always hoping he’ll achieve that goal.

I know someone else who drives a Mercedes, and his idea of moving up is to eventually trade-in his CL-Class coupe for a current model year SLR-McLaren Class Roadster. That, and the eventual acquisition of half the state of California in real estate holdings.

I like the company of the cave-dwelling, guitar-playing Troubadour better.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
My entire life has been centered around making people laugh, and I’ve always had something to do with the arts in one form or another. I’m turning fifty in June – just a week after our anniversary – but at least I’ll have new towels to cry on thanks to all of you.

Someday, and hopefully sooner than later, I want to – nay, need to – be published. Truth is I think I’ve been a writer all along, but I’m just now realizing it.

I’d like to have a book out that’s creating a buzz, and to have people asking me when the next one’s due. I want to have someone from the publisher email to ask me to pick up a pound of good coffee for them since Powell’s Books in Seattle is the first stop on the book tour. I figure if Dooce could do it with two kids, two dogs and a husband, I can do it with two cats, no dogs, a wife and a platter of piping-hot rationality.

I’m not seeking fame because that can be kind of a drag, and fortune is a curse. I just want to get a bit of myself out there for whoever is open enough to listen and laugh. Making a moderate living at it wouldn’t be bad either. God, I just KNOW someone on Barbara Walters’ staff is going to find this in a few years and she’ll be throwing it at me when I’m rich and famous. She can be such a bitch.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
When one is inclined toward creativity and the arts, there is this never-ending struggle to actually get the bills paid and eat that conflicts with what one *really* wants to do. I’ve experienced another kick-in-the-pants situation recently in being laid-off from a local hotel where I was employed as a manager-on-duty, which just means you’re the guy people yell at when they have a problem.

This was due entirely to the current economic recession (or so I keep telling myself.) The hotel is basically a ghost town right now, with tumbleweeds blowing through the lobby and a Sergio Leone score playing mournfully in the background. But the boss got me on unemployment and I’m biding my time collecting that nice little check every two weeks while looking for a local job because they say you have to do that or they won’t send you any more checks. Yesterday I applied at a yogurt place where I’d be scooping vanilla and strawberry libation into little cups and sprinkling it with gummi bears for eight-year-olds to get high on. I didn’t get hired, so the store manager must have read my blog.

I’m also writing, and trying to write that book. My unemployment benefits run out in December, so if I’m not gainfully employed or published (or both) by then, you may find me with my Troubadour friend in front of Target, where I’ll be providing rhythm on tambourine. I tried freelancing for a while but I’m terrible at it, which my friend James over at Men With Pens tried to warn me about. I actually landed this job where I’d be writing all of the content for a new website on Rhinoplasty, which is the French word for nose-job, but I quit after one day because all I wanted to do was make jokes about it, like, “why hasn’t someone thought up Rhinoplasty for horses? They’d make a fortune!”

I didn’t say they were good jokes.

The point being, I can write but I have to write for myself, or just go and scoop yogurt. Freelancing, copy-writing and/or writing sales-letters aren’t options for me, because if I have to be bored I’d rather have people around instead of just slaving over a hot keyboard in loneliness and obscurity all day while shorting it out with drool.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Stay true to yourself. Don’t compromise or seek fame and fortune, it’s all just fluff. I haven’t always been broke – I’ve actually had money, but it’s true that it doesn’t bring happiness. When you’re rich you don’t know who your real friends are. I’m lucky in that I can count my real friends on one hand while using the other to sign those unemployment checks.

With all of these “Internet marketers” and “experts” who are popping up everywhere and trying to point you toward wealth, prosperity and abundance, I’d say.. why? What are you hoping to achieve? Security for you and your family? A nicer, bigger place to live? A newer car? None of us are secure.. it’s an illusion, and the Spelling Mansion would be a bitch to clean. And I’m not impressed with the driver of an SLR-McLaren Roadster until he gets his ass out of the car and helps an old lady cross the street.

The greatest time-clock punching job I’ve ever had was as a mime at SeaWorld in San Diego, twenty years and twenty pounds ago. I’d actually punch in, get made-up and do 4-7 shows a day, depending on what day it was, then punch out and go home. I didn’t make a lot of money but I made people laugh, and I’m sure I left behind a few good memories in there somewhere. At the risk of coming off as completely corny, during that time I was the wealthiest I’ve ever been.

I’m at an age now where I’ve realized that I can never be monetarily wealthy, not with a good portion of the world living with starvation and children dying because they don’t have clean water. If I’m ever so fortunate as to make a decent or above-average income again, I’m inclined to only keep that portion we need to get by – the world can have the rest.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for? You might be tempted to provide a cheeky answer, but stop and think a moment about what would really help you.
You might have noticed that I’m not adverse to giving a cheeky answer here and there.

Encouragement goes a long way with me, but only if it’s sincere. I’d ask for blogging support in subscribing, stumbling and otherwise promoting my efforts, but again, only if one wants too.

The RhodesTer Chronicles (My snarky, observational blog that’s kind of like Dave Barry but not really because who likes copy-cats?)

Shadow of a Troubadour (My foray into fiction – humor, drama, mystery, science fiction, fantasy and more, all presented as short stories and serials. There’s plenty there to choose from, but only if you visit a year from now. In other words it’s just getting started. Oh, and it’s all copyrighted so don’t go getting any ideas, buddy.)

Armchair Paparazzi (Celebrity parody because I had to do SOMETHING to counteract blogs like Perezhilton.com and TMZ.com. It’s my view on how we should really see the entertainment industry, at least until the lawyers send me a cease-and-desist.)

It’s a hard thing to ask for encouragement, because it means so much more when unsolicited. It’s like the friends who tell you how great you were on karaoke night when you really sucked, but they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Once in a while I get a note from someone who doesn’t know me, yet tells me they can hardly wait until I get a book out someday, saying that they’d be the first in line to buy a copy. That kind of momentum can carry me through an entire week or more.

I’m also not adverse to criticism, but only if it comes from someone qualified and it’s constructive. A blog comment that’s there just to be spiteful doesn’t do anyone any good, but if a literary agent or someone in publishing were to contact me and say, “You’d do a lot better if you wrote about vampire-nurses from Venus because there’s a really huge market for that right now,” well, that’s something to bank on.

Job offers are welcome too, as long as they don’t involve selling life insurance, identity theft protection or extended auto warranties.

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