Let me know if you’re interested in the simple process to create your own blackout poems. These fun exercises are inspired by Austin Kleon.
I’m disappointed that I haven’t yet finished the 500-Word Challenge because I promised myself a nice little reward once I post on January 31. Previous tolerant [Sympathetic? Long-suffering? Now homicidal?] readers of some of my –happy place alert!–Pulitzer-winning posts will probably guess what the reward is–something techy.
Looking through the newspaper, I am disappointed that no one has offered me a gold toilet. Then again I’d probably use it as a planter box–planter bowl, actually.
I’m disappointed that I was not invited to play in the NBA All-Star Game.
Then again I would probably stop play and start haranguing about too many fouls allowed, too many timeouts, too much showboating, too much ‘look at me’, too many mad-dog staredowns, too much chest-pounding… well there you go, you get the picture. In front of all those adoring fans occasionally looking up from their phones, it would not be pretty.
I’m disappointed that Canada has not let me into its psychic airspace. Let me explain: Sometimes, things here in the US get a little hinky. I’m thinking those same annoying items will at least be relegated to page 2 in Canada. [A Canadian friend has shot down that scenario, but I’m keeping the dream alive.]
I picture myself camped out in any one of the many Victoria, B.C. shops where they take their coffee and baked goods seriously and those nice, nice people are too polite to suggest that my sleeping bag and tent are infringing on the comfort of other patrons.
See? That psychic teleportation thing is working already…
Anyway, I applied at the psychic border crossing and was refused. They said something about their being overrun with similar requests. I even asked if someone could psychically sponsor me and, with downcast eyes, a shake of the head, and an index finger on speed-dial, they apologized that they can’t even issue day-passes.
I’m disappointed that I don’t have a DVR that permanently vaporizes mention of murderous heads of state, as well as listings of specific TV shows, celebrities, non-celebrities, and media hacks.
I’m disappointed that there isn’t a truly ‘smart’ TV that rubs out all bottom-of-screen crawls spewing repeatedly ‘breaking news’ and spring training baseball scores [all preseason game results, actually]. Yes, yes, I know, most TVs allow you to zoom and thus block out the crawls, but that ain’t the same. I want a TV that essentially gives me control of the networks. [Yep, drifting into Dr. Evil territory. My apologies to non-viewers of Austin Powers–Not a fanboy, but the character seemed to fit.]
While we’re on the topic of Austins…
I’m disappointed that I’m not as productive as Austin Kleon, though every time I open one of his books [My favorite is Show Your Work], I’m hit with a surge of inspiration.
I’m disappointed there isn’t more January sun where I live–to the point that I actually watch golf on TV just so I can see non-gray skies and that big bright thing that helps make the skies non-gray.
I’m disappointed that I cheated a bit on this post–I used Google Docs voice typing for the first 100 words.
Plea for understanding: My hands were full [i.e. balancing coffee and raisin toast from The Bread Board in Falls City, OR–yes, yes, shameless promotion. Only benefit? A few extra words toward challenge-completion…talk about shameless.
On the upside, I’ve reacged 500 words and have risen above my disappointment to keep the auto-keyboarded words anyway.
Such courage and fortitude in the face of potential virulent backlash.
Keep livin’ the dream…
Not a pretty thing.
Throughout this January 500-Word Challengee’re we’ve been encouraged to publish without minndful editing, which I think is just fine because, in my eyes, the goals are to rise above fear and resistance and, in the process, build our ‘blogging muscles’.
However, at 1:00 on Thursday morning, I knew when I scheduled the post, it would be a regrettable result.
So, thank you to the folks who did dare to read my first draft intro pages for my Eclectic’s Journal. [Here’s a sanity tip: Along the lines of ‘don’t look directly at the sun’, ditto with an unedited post from me.]
For those more attentive to their posts than I’ve been, Sue Anne Dunlevie offers these five steps to take before you publish.
Another tip from 201 Ways to Arouse Your Creativity.
[My apologies to those who read this when I accidentally posted it on Thursday night.
Sometimes, I’m such a techno-shlub.]
Alison Motluk on New Scientist suggests:
“Be more playful. Horsing around may be better in the long run than hunkering down.”
Horsing around…sounds good to me.
So it was back to toying with some video, audio, and text.
For today’s 500-word challenge, I’ve been asked to teach something to my thousands [okay, millions] of readers.
Let’s go with procrastination. [Note: I did only a light edit, which is, of course, completely counter to what we polished procrastinators usually do—pore and writhe in agony over word choice, missing commas [most readers wouldn’t notice, but by God, you will…]
First off, start your day with email. You would be surprised how fluent and outright wordy and, even insightful, you become with your emails when you have some more pressing creative pursuit knocking on your conscious or your subconscious. You start noticing quirks in your respondents’ writing style and yucking it up over them. You even suggest some possible fixes, almost as if you know what you’re talking about. Of course, knowing what you’re talking about is secondary to creating the aura of intelligence, experience, and wisdom. The main thing is this: You HAVE to avoid the other work that is calling out for your attention. No matter that you have built your points and premises on a firm foundation of ignorance. Just keep writing.
Okay, so your hands are about to fall off from your feverish keyboarding.
Take a break. Make sure it involves removing yourself from any temptation to listen to your nearly bound and gagged muse. I would suggest cleaning the garage. But tread lightly, bucko, because you might run across boxes of notebooks filled with half-spun tales, expertly written, that might make you think you actually have the talent to get something published. ‘Half-spun’ is the operative term here, by the way. You would risk being engulfed by guilt over never finishing anything and let’s face it, do you really want to risk all that time and energy on a project that probably won’t dig its way out of a slush pile, digital or otherwise?
So, still in the garage, I would say that grabbing a broom and clearing away cobwebs from the rafters would pretty much remove you from the dangers of the ‘creative life’.
Okay, thank god the garage is web-free [mostly]. It’s time for coffee. Now where is that Bialetti pseudo-espresso maker you hadn’t thought about until just now? It’s gotta be underneath the cast-iron skillet which, hey, you could really go for some biscuits to accompany that coffee. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you could probably just throw those biscuits together in nothing flat, but Wednesday’s food section writer [what a hack—someone who actually finishes and publishes] spouted about the appeal of sourdough biscuits and now seems about the right time to throw together a little starter. Quite an appropriate term—starter. No one ever asks, though, if there is such a thing as sourdough finisher.
Well, that little detour did nothing to satisfy the need for an accompaniment to your coffee, now did it?
And geez, that one way-up-high cobweb is still haunting you. Okay, this is simple. You’re going to defrost some of that four-month-old vanilla brandied bundt cake while you venture back to the garage and pull out the ladder to vanquish that ever-threatening cobweb.
Yep, you have everything under control. A cleaner garage, some fresh coffee a brewin’, updated correspondence, and a room temperature piece of cake.
Life is good.
And the caffeine will no doubt fire you up for round two of the day’s creative effort.
But, wait, wasn’t that your phone’s notification chime?
Since when did your writing become so onerous?
This writer takes a step back and gets a grip.
Quote: “There was neither the time, nor the energy, to think much about writing.
And I’m fine with it.”
“You Need To Practice Being Your Future Self,” demands Fox Business.
Future self? Oh, enough already. We need more articles about how to scale down and pace ourselves more calmly today, because life is a marathon instead of a sprint.”
So, writers, even though there’s been plenty of talk about goals here, perhaps the ultimate goal is deceleration. [I just love it when I contradict myself.]
The latest from January’s 500-word challenge:
My wife [how dare she?!] ordered the mug below for me for Christmas! It totally undermines my desire to be productive! And I love it.
Below is the rest of Day 4 of the 500-Words-a-Day Challenge. [In the spirit of Jeff’s free writing’ prescription, I laid low when it came to editing…]
Jeff Goins suggests we give free writing a try. No editing.
Amen to that.
So, still on the theme of finishing, or not finishing, in my case, well, there are so many traps out there.
So yes, there are traps around every corner, underneath every strewn magazine, on top of every to-do list you’ve ever created for yourself [and promptly ignored, until the next day, at which point you’re feeling really lousy about how little you accomplished.
On the upside, I’m working on developing some habits that will help me follow through and finish.
Starting with this:
[Time out to appeal to the ‘word count judiciary’. If a picture is worth a thousand words, did I just crank out 2000+ words?]
Okay, I’m back. I’m thinking that ‘pausing’ to transfer and upload photos is hardly in the spirit of free writing and I’m really hoping that Jeff Goins doesn’t have some irritable virtual assistant turning me in on this blatant writerly transgression.
So, the point of the dull boring [can you tell I’m padding my word total again? Nothing cheats word counts like redundancy. Unless you spend words talking about redundancy, which I just did…and continue to do…god, I love free writing.]
Again…the point of the photos—I could have stopped my forward momentum toward my laptop. Instead of picking up that shirt and doing those dishes, I moved back to the laptop. They would still be there after this 500 word catharsis. In the past, it was way too easy to take that ‘responsible spouse’ detour. And now, I’m putting that off in the interest of getting more important stuff done. Really, they’ll be there 20 minutes from now.
And now it’s time to take Jon Acuff to task. Couldn’t wait to do this. “If you want it done, make it fun.” That’s one of the mainstay themes in his book. I’m right on board with that, but as I pound away at this project on a less than fun, laptop of the Windows 10/Lenovo ilk, with its annoying notifications, weekly updates and erratic cursor appearances and temperamental trackpad, well, talk about not wanting to reach for it to get stuff done. [Word padding alert–Yes, yes, yes, I can work with the settings and turn that stuff off, but even that is an annoying process and yes, I did just do so after the third notification interruption during this session.]
But enough about me being a technoweenie, let’s blame Jon Acuff for the ‘make it fun’ distraction. “If you want it done, make it fun.” So–and please don’t tell my wife–I’m seriously thinking of picking up a MacBook. No matter that I’ve used the ‘I’ll get more work done!’ argument more than a few times before. I honestly think I will get more done. And I’ll be appealing to all three [if I’m lucky] of you who A. read this B. actually agree with my ‘get more done with a Mac’ assertion.
Now that I think of it, if and when I do order that MacBook, I might just have to send the bill to Jon. Or Jeff Goins, for that matter. I mean, really, they’re the reasons I’m in this ‘500 words a day and most likely about following through and finishing’ mess after all.
Geez, I’m feelin’ good. I finished today’s post and I’ve been heaving blame away from me and toward unsuspecting folks who are ‘just trying to help’. Hah, see if they try that again.
An update on my 31-day, 500 word writing challenge.
On the heels of yesterday’s post…
Enter Dan Goodwin’s Wakeful Ways at A Big Creative Yes from the 201 Ways to Arouse Your Creativity .
Count your blessings.
As well as feeling happier, it will inevitably help you be more creative too.
Print out my freebie The Eclectic’s Journal and see if filling out that first section gives you a little jump start.