Category Archives: creativity

Stephen King’s “On Writing” Instruction: Do You Agree with Him?

Stephen King’s books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television series, and comic books. King has published 58 fictional novels, and six non-fiction books. In his (more rare) non-fiction book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” he gives his best advice to would be writers.

I like his conversational and transparent style in this book, you learn more about his writing life and his own (sometimes severe) hurdles. He shares his genius and–as usual–is super funny, I laughed out loud and took many notes throughout my reading.

King’s own synopsis of this book is: “On Writing is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of Stephen’s life and will, thus, appeal even to those who are not aspiring writers. If you’ve always wondered what led Steve to become a writer and how he came to be the success he is today, this will answer those questions.”

Where does King’s genius originate in his writing? A writer friend of mine concludes that “he doesn’t know jack, that he writes intuitively and that can’t be transferred. He can only say, “This is how I write.” She says if you follow his advice, you will probably end up sounding a lot like Stephen King. I do agree that he is an extraordinary “gut-centered” writer, which my book discusses. But his other two creativity centers: His head and heart center are actively working too–creating striking intersections!
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I happen to heartily disagree with my writer friend on the value of King’s advice. I get inspired by his book–it made me ponder exceptions to his rules, which I’ll highlight below. I ask writers out there–did you benefit from King’s writing instructions–or not?

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Along with his writing rules, King chronicles his career as a writer (starting in grade school), which is wonderfully entertaining, scary and down to earth–just like his novels. His rules follow:

Rule #1: Don’t use passive voice
Active voice is great if you want to produce a driving passage, filled with energy and momentum. This rule got me thinking… its not always true! What if we want to convey something else – mystery, suspense? Here is an example of passive voice:

“The body was hanging in the hall. It had been hung there some time in the night, when we were sleeping. As we made our way down to breakfast, we all stepped around it. Nobody looked up. We all knew who it was.”

If we use an active voice: “Somebody hung it in the night,” it doesn’t have the same feeling. The focus here is on the body. Using passive voice increases the tension and forces us to wonder, “Who hung it there?”

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Stephen King’s Rule #2: Don’t use adverbs
I agree with King that the overuse of adverbs (anything ending in -ly) is mostly annoying and unneccessary. I’m trying hard to avoid them in my own writing. However, sometimes an adverb can fulfill a purpose. Sometimes we need to describe how someone is performing an action, without a lengthy descriptive phrase.

“Gently, oh so gently, they lifted my body out of the river. They placed it on the bank and arranged my tattered clothing to cover what remained of my flesh. Then they stood around me, in perfect silence, their hats in their hands. If only they had shown me such respect when I was alive.”

This passage could have begun without “gently.” But the impact of the (dead) narrator’s voice would have been compromised, and the force of the final line would have been diminished.

Stephen King’s Rule #3: Don’t use a long word when you can use a short one
English is a mashup of Germanic and Latin roots (among other things). The Germanic lexicon is agglomerative: get up, get down. Latin roots are inflected: ascend, descend. Academic writing favors Latin roots, while colloquial speech prefers the Germanic. If you want to sound like Hemingway, or Stephen King, stick to the Germanic roots. But, if you are after a more scholarly effect, go for the Latin.

In dialogue anything is permissible. Sometimes I do believe a five-dollar word can accomplish more than its one-syllable equivalent. Here is the last phrase of Camus’ The Stranger, taken from two different translations: Which version will you remember?

“… they greet me with cries of hate.”

“… they greet me with howls of execration.”

This example shows you can write anything, if you can pull it off. If you can’t, then like Kings says, don’t do it! Being able to do something successfully is what is important, not whether you follow “the rules”.

It is important to understand the difference between commercial and literary fiction, which can be subtle. In general, commercial fiction is formulaic, whereas literary fiction tends to experiment with form and style. Commercial fiction falls into genres – science fiction, chick lit, romance, etc. – whereas literary fiction may cross or blend genres, or depart from them entirely. Literary fiction also places greater value on the craft of writing, which is not to say that genre fiction does not, but in the case of literary fiction, the writing is front and center.

I get a big kick out of King’s editing style, he is a strict (former) English teacher: This example shows you CAN use hyphens, commas, etc. extensively AND use long sentences: “Writing did not save my life–Dr. David Brown’s skill and my wife’s loving care did that–but it has continued to do what is always has done: it makes my life a brighter and more pleasant place.

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There are at least five big ideas that King shares: 1) Embrace rejection: He craved feedback from publishers who rejected him. He had a ‘growth mindset’, not a ‘fixed mind set’. Fail faster to succeed. 2) On muses: Show up every day, “work your ass off” you must clock in your time if you want your muse to show up 3) You must read and write–both!–a lot. He reads 70-80 books a year (only after he clocks in his own daily writing). 4) Jumper cable brain: Must learn to settle your brain down to write. To be truly creative we can only do one thing at a time (I explain the science behind this in my book), so turn your phone off and get into your writing cave! 5) He did not write one word of any of his books for money. (If there was one person he wanted to impress, that would only be his fellow-writer wife). He writes purely for the JOY of it, the money is only a by-product of his writing craft. He writes for the joy of creation!

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I love this book and think you will too. W
hat do you think about his rules and ideas? Where do you see exceptions?

Happy Independence Day! Surprising facts about July 4th

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY America! We are celebrating a very special day–symbolic of US!

Happy Independence Day America!


But did you know there are some other cool(!) FACTS about our unique day:
Continental Congress actually approved the legal separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain on July 2. But it was on July 4 that the Declaration of Independence was officially signed in 1776.

Happy Independence Day America!

The signing of the Declaration of Independence made July 4 our official independence day, but also the deaths of two of our founders cement it. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, former U. S. presidents, BOTH passed away on July 4th in the same year, 1826. They were bitter political enemies–until retirement, when they became close–writing each other more than 150 letters. Even more amazing is that both died by a difference of five hours and both knew that the other was on their deathbed. Their intimate and intellectual genuine friendship is an inspiration. We can move–upward and onward–beyond petty politics!

Happy Independence Day America!

July 4 is also Liberation Day in Rwanda. The Rwandan Genocide ended this day in 1994 and birthed a new government. Heroes in Rwanda’s Patriotic Army overthrew the Hutu’s regime. This date also started their trajectory of success to the present day and beyond.

Happy Independence Day America!

What do July 4th and Mount Everest have in common? Ever independent George Everest was born July 4th, 1790–after whom the world’s highest mountain is named. This is the mountain where so many are willing to die to climb to the peak, all in the name of adventure, discipline and accomplishment. Such wonder and breath-taking beauty!

Happy Independence Day America!


What else is unusual about July 4th?
The usual date of Earth’s “aphelion,” when our orbit is furthest from the sun is—you guessed it! –July 4. There is that mighty and symbolic independence again! See ‘ya later Sol…

Happy Independence Day America!

 

Coincidentally, on July 4, 1862, Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a great story that would grow into Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.

Happy Independence Day America!

It has been estimated that 150 million hot dogs will be eaten in the US in today’s celebrations. (I didn’t say we had healthy taste…)

Happy Independence Day America!

The Bald Eagle, is the Symbol of our Nation. The American Bald Eagle gained immediate, unofficial recognition as our National bird when the Great Seal of the United States was adopted on June 20, 1782. Official designation of the massive bird that has a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet did not come for six more years.They are at the top of the food chain, with some species feeding on big prey like monkeys and sloths. Their amazing eyesight can detect prey up to two miles away. SO CHEERS TO US–JULY 4TH IS OUR AMAZING DAY, but also…

Happy Independence Day America!

I’m sending lots of love out to (especially) the ladies of Rwanda, this is YOUR day too. Sending more independence, joy and success to all today!

Happy Independence Day America!

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

Tree of Contemplation

The Tree diagram illustrates some of the contemplative practices currently in use in organizational and academic settings. Which of these practices (if any) help you with your creative process? Are you willing to try something new?

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

There are seven main branches: 1) Stillness, 2) generative, 3) creative, 4) activist, 5) relational, 6) movement, and 7) ritual.

Being a gut dominated person I am drawn towards the movement branch. My daily trail jogging/hiking with my dogs is deeply meditative for me. Being silent in nature allows me to not only visually rest but also to hear nature’s sounds, to take them into my own rhythm and well-being. And yes the dogs point to things I’d otherwise miss. They show me who has been there before us with their keen noses, mostly coyote, rabbit and deer but also bobcats and foxes.

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On the generative branch are many helpful practices. I enjoy Lectio Divina because it allows me to engage all three of my centers of intelligence. Deep, contemplative reading is part of just about all traditions with written scriptures (head center). In the Christian tradition there is a contemplative reading known as lectio divina (“divine reading,” in Latin). Through a process of contemplative reading the words on the page become clearer and more meaningful. The idea is to bring greater understanding and connection, the opposite of superficial, quick reading.

In the third Century, the Christian scholar Origen said if you read in the right spirit, you will find the meaning “hidden from most people.” When St. Benedict compiled his rules for monasteries in the sixth century, he included reading as an important part of the monk’s day (at a time when personal reading was still relatively rare). He called them to deeply study, ponder, listen, and pray. To this day, The Rule of St. Benedict is the most common and influential rule used by monasteries and monks, more than 1,400 years after its writing.

In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk named Guigo, formalized four stages to the practice of Lectio Divina. He described four levels of meaning and four approaches to the text: lectio (reading and then understanding the text, head centered), meditatio (reflection and contextualizing the meaning, heart centered), oratio (listening within and living the meaning, gut centered), and contemplatio (being still, and meeting God in the text).

https://www.thereligionteacher.com/lectio-divina-steps/

The approach allows one to first become keenly aware of what is on the page and then successively builds to greater and deeper meaning within (using our distinct three centers), until ultimately bringing us to personal connection and action. Each of these steps together form a process by which we encounter God in His sacred word and respond to His grace. They form parts of a larger whole, but each one comes with a certain set of skills for us to master. For me this practice brings creative inspiration as I receive God’s love and attention, which I accept through my faith in His word–“and leap to flame”.

You can learn more at https://www.slideshare.net/mikep7/ld-short-presentation-2225112.

One creative application (from a secular standpoint) of Lectio Divina is from David G. Haskell, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at the University of the South, in his course on “Food and Hunger: Contemplation and Action,” introduces a modification for reading short essays on hunger and food in class. This participatory process of reading aloud around the room immerses students in the text so that “they’re swimming in it.”

In a circle of students, he reminds students to project their voices and assures them that it is all right to pass; in initial stages of group work, it is important that students feel comfortable. This provides a safe place that allows them to embrace fear rather than freeze or fight it.

The instructions for his exercise are as follows:

  1. Sit quietly and relax our minds and bodies for one minute.
  2. Read aloud, slowly, the entire text, each of us reading one or two sentences, “passing along” the reading to the left to the next reader.
  3. One minute of silence and reflection.
  4. One of us reads aloud the short passage that we have chosen in advance.
  5. Another minute of silence and reflection.
  6. We share a word or short phrase in response to the reading—just give voice to the word without explanation or discussion.
  7. Another person reads the short passage again.
  8. One minute of silence and reflection.
  9. We share longer responses to the text—a sentence or two. We listen attentively to one another without correcting or disputing.
  10. Another person reads the short passage one last time, followed by another minute of silence.

I’d love to hear from you readers, which of these practices (if any) help you with your creative process? Are you willing to try something new?

My ANT Resolution: No more Automatic Negative Thoughts!

AttackedbyAntsI kill my ANTS! What do I mean by this?

I’m working to SQUASH my negative thinking patterns. More than ever before– I am going to fight them off! OK, I concede there is no way I can exterminate them completely because they are AUTOMATIC. Renowned brain disorder psychiatrist, Dr Amen coined the word ANTS for them, Automatic Negative Thoughts in his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. He describes them as “the little voices that pop into your head and tell you you’re not good enough, not thin enough, a rubbish daughter, mother, worker.”
 A few ANTS, he says, can be managed. But he warns to watch out for ANT-­infestations — when hundreds of negative thoughts start to take over. Has this ever happened to you?

It has happened to me. Like when I eat one of those incredible Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups and wow, it blows me away… so I eat one more… then just one more. Then I think, well I’ve blown my low sugar allotment for today so I may as well finish off the bag… I can never do this low sugar diet thing anyway…  I just don’t have the discipline or will power or whatever it takes… (more negative thoughts)… no wonder I’m a failure in certain areas of my life, like being blocked in my creative work right now… and on and on…

Here are some examples of typical ANTs (automatic negative thoughts):Ant Mission

“You never listen to me.”

“Just because we had a good year in business doesn’t mean anything.”

“You don’t like me.”

“This situation is not going to work out. I know something bad will happen.”

“You are an arrogant know-it-all.”

“I should have done much better. I’m a failure.”

“Its too late for me.”

“I wish I was creative.”

“It’s your fault.”

These thoughts severely limit our creative powers. The answer, Dr. Amen says, lies in simple ANT-eater techniques that stop the bugs in their tracks. “Your brain is a powerful organ,” he says. “If you see yourself as fat, old, wrinkled or forgetful, you boost production of the stress hormone which affects your health, your weight and your mind… Negative thoughts can make negative things happen.”

transformedWhy should I/we care about creating our own personal ANT eaters? Because we know our NEGATIVE THOUGHTS un-monitored lead to NEGATIVE CHOICES, which lead to NEGATIVE HABITS and our habits determine our CHARACTER, which becomes our DESTINY. Oh no(!), fat, old and uncreative we think… NOT! How do I/we stop this nonsense?! My ants invade my mind like ants at a picnic. They arrive suddenly, are unwanted, uninvited, stinging ugly sticklers that don’t leave unless I intentionally force them out!

It helps to understand there are at least nine categories of negative thoughts. There are nine different ways our thoughts lie to us and make situations seem worse than they are, listed below. Our first step is to identify—NAME– the type of ANT, and by doing this we begin to take away its power.

Which of these nine show up most in your thinking?

  1. “Always/never” thinking: thinking in words like always, never, no one, everyone, every time, everything.
  2. Focusing on the negative: seeing only the bad in a situation
  3. Fortune-telling: predicting the worst possible outcome to a situation
  4. Mind reading: believing that you know what others are thinking, even though they haven’t told you
  5. Thinking with your feelings: believing negative feelings without ever questioning them
  6. Guilt beating: thinking in words like should, must, ought, or have to
  7. Labeling: attaching a negative label to yourself or to someone else
  8. Personalizing: investing innocuous events with personal meaning
  9. Blaming: blaming someone else for your own problems — a red ant, it is very poisonous!

I’ll be honest and share that patterns 7 and 8 are ‘stinkin’ thinking’ ANTs for me. I use the 5 A’s of awareness, acceptance, appreciation, action, and adherence (discussed in my newly published book) to squash these suckers. My stinkin’ thoughts must be noticed, captured and accepted as real before I can take action and replace them with more realistic positive thoughts and choices.

infestationIf I don’t deal with my ANTS in real time the result is the 5 D’s—depressed, despair, dissed, de-energized and deflated. I need SOS in real time– stop, observe and shift techniques. If I’ve allowed a genuine infestation to occur, then worse, I become devastated and immobile.

Its no wonder these mind attackers don’t go away– but must be managed. Some truly frightening scientific facts about ants include: they are as old as dinosaurs, have already survived a mass extinction event, have conquered almost the entire globe, their total population make our 7 billion look weak, they can exceed two inches in length (!), they have a hive mind (a killer!) and they actually practice slavery. It is true—they commonly raid neighboring colonies and steal eggs or larvae in a practice known as “dulosis.” Their forcibly acquired young are then either eaten or put to work.

In our never-ending ANT ­battles, our redemption lies in building our own arsenal of ANT-eater solutions. I will not be captured automatically as a slave to my own ANT’s! I will fight them and kill them—this is my choice!metamorphosis_by_weroni-d7exzb5

I invite you to share how you feed your anteaters? Onward and upward brave soldiers—together lets KILL our ANTS, lets revolt together!

Thank you for reading my post. I am an organizational and business consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. I enjoy hiking and high desert gardening. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Creativity: Taking risk & stretching self

How do you think about risk?

Do images of hang gliding or dying on Mount Everest come to mind? Does it mean an activity where one false move can mean death for you? The truth is risk doesn’t need to involve danger. Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction with uncertainty. “Uncertainty is a potential, unpredictable, unmeasurable and uncontrollable outcome; risk is a consequence of action taken in spite of uncertainty” says Wikipedia. Risk can be defined as “activities with uncertain outcomes.”

The ability to take calculated risks is an essential human trait, crucial to our development. Our risk-taking ancestors were the successful survivors who took chances to adapt to their changing environment. And today, the same principle applies, “To grow, we need to experience challenges — whether we’re 4, 14, or 40” says psychologist Michael Ungar. I’d add–until our dying breath.

Facing things that make us uncomfortable has advantages, whether we succeed or fail: we become more emotionally resilient, confident, satisfied, and engaged with life. We don’t have to parachute from a plane (thank God!) to reap the benefits of taking risks. Choosing to be creative everyday means taking some risk. Any time we pay attention to areas of our life that feel challenging, lacking or intriguing to us– we can choose to take some risk. Whether that means being open to the universe to find a new mate after a divorce or to change our artistic medium in order to better express ourselves on an easel. We embrace the adventure of uncertainty. “Do one thing every day that scares you,” Eleanor Roosevelt said.

Will taking a risk cause anxiety? Yes!

Researcher Hans Selye found there are actually two kinds of stress: Distress is a negative stress and eustress is a positive stress. “Eustress,” or healthy anxiety motivates or focuses our energy. Healthy anxiety is “just right” anxiety; the kind we need to be creative. Too much anxiety becomes toxic to our performance, paralyzing it. Too little anxiety is toxic as well, as it puts us in an “I’m bored” state. So the level of risk we choose to take should include “just right” anxiety for us. This will look different for you than it does for me, but for both of us, it will involve a “stretch” from our head, heart or gut center (or all three).

Pioneer Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard explains in his 1844 treatise that anxiety is the dizzying effect of freedom, of paralyzing possibility, of the boundlessness of one’s own existence. He writes, “Anxiety is altogether different from fear and similar concepts that refer to something definite, whereas anxiety is freedom’s actuality as the possibility of possibility.”

We intuitively know that our best learning occurs just beyond our comfort zone from our heart, head or gut perspective. That’s what happened to me when I left my corporate job after 19 years. I had to take a big risk, relinquish the golden handcuffs, and take a leap of faith into the deep unknown. Through the process I discovered more passions: living off the grid in the mountains, building a rustic cabin, trail running on old mining paths and meeting my soul mate whom I would marry. There is always a sense of satisfaction that emerges from trying something entirely new and proving ourselves to be capable of the task. Creativity is born!

Perhaps the coolest benefit of taking a risk is that it’s simply fun. Neuroscientists explain this bliss with biochemistry: New, challenging, and risky activities trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that’s part of the brain’s reward system. Call risk taking the ultimate antidote to boredom. It’s the best way (I am aware of) to wake up and feel fully alive. We can have a say in our destiny—by taking a risk– versus being dominated by our circumstances. Indeed every chance we take teaches us something about ourselves and leads us mysteriously along our long term creative path.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. As Vincent van Gogh said, People are often unable to do anything, imprisoned as they are in I don’t know what kind of terrible, terrible, oh such terrible cage.”

Any risks you’ve taken you’d like to share– that reaped you creative benefits?  Was the risk from a head, heart or gut perspective? Happy risk taking.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Read more in my book and my website: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from Your Head, Heart and Gut.

Writers–A must watch interview of S.King & GRRM

This is a great video of Stephen King and George R. R. Martin interviewing each other that you simply must check out. They are two iconic authors of our time and have opposite writing styles. The first video is the interview in full, the second one is a short clip of a dumbfounded GRRM asking King, “How do you write so fast?”

King has published 54 novels and six non-fiction books and has written nearly 200 short stories. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine. His novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was the basis for the movie The Shawshank Redemption which is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time–it is one of my all time favorites.

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The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for 7 Oscars in 1995

George R. R. Martin is best known for his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was later adapted into the wildly popular HBO dramatic series Game of Thrones. Martin has been called “the American Tolkien”and Time Magazine named him one of the “2011 Time 100,” a list of the “most influential people in the world.” GRRM (as he is known) lives in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico– we are blessed by his very generous community presence and participation! He helped fund the successful Meow Wolf–an arts production company born in Santa Fe, New Mexico that has spread to Denver and Las Vegas.

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Example of “live” Meow Wolf art installment in Santa Fe, NM

These two authors have opposite writing styles: King writes several books a year and Martin infuriates his fans due to his slow writing pace. This leads Martin asking King a question he’s always wanted to know regarding his writing process.

It’s a great example of how there is not one writing style that works: On one end of the spectrum some authors work freely–“organically,” and on the other end–other authors structure detailed outlines (skeletons) that they follow and add dramatic meat to (like James Patterson).

Enjoy the highly entertaining conversation between these two funny characters: At nearly an hour-long, this spontaneous and friendly interview dives into the details of both author’s writing crafts. The two discuss each others work, aspects of their personal life, writing interests and more. Warning: there is profanity.

Which of these two authors do you more resonate with and why? Please do share your thoughts about their interesting discussion.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

King, Rowling, Angelou: How to Write Successfully

Do  you love top 10 lists? I find them hard to resist on topics I’m passionate about. Today I have chosen three videos of top 10 rules from three iconic writers: Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Maya Angelou.

Every time I watch Stephen King “live” I find myself laughing out loud–really loud!–the writer comes off as an extroverted stand up comedian. King needs little introduction, he is an American author of contemporary horror, science fiction, and fantasy and has sold more than 350 million copies. A favorite King quote of mine is:

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Stephen King’s Top 10 Rules For Success: Be sure not to miss #10!
 


Ms Rowling is a British superstar novelist and best known as the author of the unprecedented Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. In 2004, Forbes named her as the first person to become a billionaire by writing books! A favorite Rowling quote of mine is:

 
J.K. Rowling’s Top 10 Rules For Success: Don’t miss her #4 insight!


Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She’s best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. For me she pierces the heart with her words–always poetic–and so inspiring they sweep me away. I simply adore Maya Angelou! My favorite quote of Maya’s:

King, Rowling, Angelou: How to Write Successfully

 

Be sure not to miss #10 of this Maya Angelou video!

I thank Evan Carmichael for making these useful and heart-felt video collages. Its simply amazing what you can find on the internet–from creative people for free–for inspiration!

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

What has 8 eyes?

Spiders seem to define the ultimate in creativity. True spiders of the order Araneae are the largest group of carnivorous animals on Earth!

YES, ALL SPIDERS ARE PREDATORS. They hunt and capture prey–mostly other insects and other invertebrates, but some large spiders may even prey on vertebrates such as birds.

Why are spiders fantastically successful as hunters? There are many reasons. One might think it is because most spiders have 8 EYES. Even so, the fact is few have good eyesight. Instead they rely on touch, vibration and taste stimuli to navigate and find their prey.

What has 8 eyes

This jumping spider’s main center pair of eyes are very acute. The outer pair are “secondary eyes” and there are other pairs of secondary eyes on the sides and top of its head. Photo by JJ Harrison

What has 8 eyes

Head of a Net-casting Spider, Deinopis. Photographer:Reg Morrison

Most spiders detect little more than light-dark intensity changes. Some spiders have median eyes that detect polarized light and they use this for hunting.

What has 8 eyes

Eye shine from a Wolf Spider, Photographer: Jim Frazer

Spider’s eight eyes are typically placed in two rows, on the front of their carapace. Their direct eyes, or AME, differ markedly in structure from their other indirect eyes (ALE, PLE, PME). The direct eyes appear dark, whereas the indirect eyes usually have a layer of light reflecting crystals, behind the light sensitive retina, giving these eyes a silvery appearance.

What has 8 eyes

Tropical Jumping Spiders are spider specialists. They prey on both hunting and web building spiders. Photographer: Robert Jackson

The following are more stunning photographs of the jumping spider, captured by macro photographer Thomas Shahan.

What has 8 eyes
What has 8 eyes
What has 8 eyes
What has 8 eyes

For a few spiders, good vision is vital for hunting and capturing prey and for recognizing mates and rivals. They include the day active jumping spiders (Salticidae), the flower spiders (Thomisidae), the wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and net-casting spiders (Deinopidae), more often seen by twilight or later at night.

What has 8 eyes

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You may ask “why 8 eyes?” Burke museum curator Rod Crawford explains, “It almost certainly has nothing to do with the 8 legs… While 99% of spiders do have 8, almost 1% have 6, and a few have 2 or 0. All harvestmen and solpugids have 2… The functions of the 4 different eye-pairs vary widely among different groups of spiders. Details would be a whole dissertation in itself.”

You guessed it–there is no universal answer as to why spiders have 8 eyes. We’ll just leave it with, “mother nature has her reasons,” and why not for ‘just’ beauty’s sake? Or for curious photographers to discover?

Yes it is true, we need nature more than nature needs us. Please share what you think about spider eyes–and especially your theories as to why they have eight eyes. And of course your photographic techniques for capturing their glory.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

Ugh! Why is my creativity stalled?

My last blog post was about asking why–three times, in three different ways to get motivated about creating your next thing. This is part two, what if I know why I want to create this thing, but I am still stuck??

Want to make something

Asking your head, heart and gut–why do you want to create your thing of interest–is a big deal. Our why is the motivation behind creating, it drives us. And keeps driving us. But what if we think we aren’t good enough?

Self-awareness is the key to recognizing and managing our self-doubt about our creativity. Where is the resistance (the BIG R!) originating from? Most of us feel the negative power of the “Big R” but don’t really analyze it. One of our creative centers–either our fearful/critical head, our envious/comparing heart or our lazy gut center is to blame. Which of these intelligence centers is your resistance culprit?

Want to make something

One of the tricks of our head center is perfectionism–this stops us from creating–it tells us we aren’t good enough to do it. If our head center convinces us that everything has to be perfect, it knows we won’t begin, or at least we won’t finish what we started. For example, I’ve done endless research for my new book and made an outline of the chapters. Is my head center the culprit for my stalling actually writing it? I ponder this–I’m not at the point of analysis paralysis and still have incredible curiosity about my subject. No, I don’t think its fear from my head center that is stopping me at this point.

Our heart center says, “What if I suck?” If we say this, then what we are really saying is that I suck compared to others. Comparison is a major creativity killer. So I say to my heart, my feelings, “If I really suck at this then why do I have a persistent desire–a calling–to birth this book?  My heart says, “I have a deep passion for this subject, it is significant to me and I don’t think anyone else has already done this book… I know they haven’t!” Its my unique voice and history and take on the subject (my mess, my message) after all–so why compare myself to others?

What am I feeling, I ask my heart? “I am feeling overwhelmed by my story–getting lost in it.” This is another effective “Big R” tactic. “What are the most authentic pieces of your book,” my heart says, “most true for you? Cut everything else, get rid of it…” OK this is great advice from my heart. Its helping me, not causing my “Big R.” Its telling me to simplify, simplify on the message(s) that matter most.

This leaves only my trusted gut center for me to ask the same question: Are you the culprit– the resistor of me writing this book? Alright it confesses: “I am pitifully suffering from under-action, undisciplined writing time and poor resolve. I am excessively surfing the net–in the name of research–which is really BS. I am not controlling my time, NOT spending my time doing the right things at the right time for the good of my book.” My gut tells me, “You know you write best in the morning, the earlier the better, but instead you are insanely reading newspapers and opinions… the all-distracting Trump thing you have going on… he isn’t anything you can control, so why spend your best time on this?”

My gut tells me: “Creativity isn’t about rare talent, it’s about executing! Quit ignoring writing your book and feeling overwhelmed by it. Get down to the nitty-gritty writing of the details to discover which of your ideas work best. It’s a numbers game, but it is a numbers game that you are not playing!” Oh yes, thanks for reminding me–being creative isn’t magic. It’s just a person dedicated to actually doing it for better or worse–no matter the ever present resistance–every single day.

Aha, that’s it! My distractions and excuses are essentially lies. My gut tells me so! We can DO this creative thing, lets do it!

I invite you to read more about the creative high hanging and low hanging fruit from our three intelligence centers in my book: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from Your Head, Heart and Gut.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

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Can organizations be creative?

Have you ever been at a corporate off-site or other workshop/offering where the result of the initiative fell flat? The intent was good; but there were no new meaningful insights. It was scheduled rather than organic. Our brains had time to predict the future, and the potential for novelty disappeared. Transplanting the same mix of people to a different location, even an exotic one, then dropping them into a “new” conference room usually doesn’t work.

No, new insights usually only come from new people, new environments, and new incubations; any circumstance where the brain can’t predict what will happen next. In short, by creating paradigm shifts in our three centers of intelligence: our heads, hearts and guts.

It is possible for employees, supervisors and managers to “wire” creativity into their organizations by drawing upon the three centers of intelligence. But do organizations have heads, hearts and guts? Resoundingly– yes they do!

The Ted talk below succinctly illustrates “collaborative visualization”– this is a “head based” technique to begin with (using our imaginations) that quickly can lead to creative action (gut based). If the visualization taps into our heart’s passion, then it can lead to a triple intersection (of head, heart, and gut intelligence) creativity. 

Organizational cultures reflect back the top people driving them. You can learn more in my recent book. I include diverse case studies such as, Apple Corp, Exxon/Mobil Corp, Saddleback Church and more.

What do you think about “collaborative visualization” as an organizational approach? Any hope for it working in your organization?

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life in my recent book. I invite all to become the best version of themselves at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.