Friday, October 4, 2013

Grin and Win

WARNING: Negative thoughts and self-criticism impair your ability to develop strong creative skills.

This scientific FACT has been brought to you by Dr. Adam Anderson, whose study was featured in the 2006 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

What’s more, Dr. A. says that the opposite holds true as well. So, here’s one for all of the Debbie Downers out there —

WARNING: Positive moods can increase your ability to think creatively.

Obviously, if you want to have a creative edge, you’re going to have to get some happiness.

I'm told you can't buy it 

So, you're going to have to make it yourself.

Here are a few recipes that I've found to be handy…

Research has shown that the best way to be happy
is to make each day happy.
~ Deepak Chopra

Most folks are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.
~ Abraham Lincoln

If you want to be happy, be.
~ Leo Tolstoy

Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.
~ Anne Frank

To be happy, make other people happy.
~ W. Clement Stone

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
~ Dalai Lama

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do
are in harmony.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

And my personal favorite…

A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin;
what else does a man need to be happy?
~ Albert Einstein

PROMPT: Grab your fruit bowl and mix in a violin. It’s a great weekend to make some HAPPINESS… with a whole heap of creativity on the side.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blue October

Life is about learning;
when you stop learning, you die.
~Tom Clancy

Oh, how I wish that Tom had checked out the latest edition of Encyclopedia Britannica yesterday.

Instead, he simply checked out…

and joined the great launch party in the sky.

He didn't leave us scribblers empty-handed, though.

Here are a few great tips I've gathered from Tom's time on the planet:

1) Get Bored

After finishing his English degree at Loyola, he worked in an insurance office. Tom found the job to be Boring with a capital B. But instead of looking for a new line of work, he began to dabble in fiction for fun.

2) Set a Goal

“I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book.”
Yeah, his first goal was pretty modest when you know the rest of the story.

3) Sometimes you’re gonna have to tick somebody off

In 1988, Wanda Clancy wryly recalled the days before her husband became a bestselling author. “He was writing at home every weekend. I told him he should go back to selling insurance — I've eaten those words a few times.”

4) Do your Research

Tom once said, “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” So, he always did his homework — interviewed military personnel and sifted through hundreds of books with “thrilling” titles like The World’s Missile Systems, and Guide to the Soviet Navy and Combat Fleets of the World. In fact, he was so thorough that he was once grilled by U.S. Navy Secretary John Lehman who wanted to know who had leaked all of the “secret” material. It’s no wonder that The Hunt for Red October was critically praised for its technical accuracy.

5) Work Hard

“You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn't divinely inspired — it’s hard work.”

Amen, Brother.

6) Be Brave

“Fortune does favor the brave. In battle, you forgive a man anything except an unwillingness to take risks. Sometimes you have to put it on the line. What I did was take time away from how I earned my living. My wife gave me hell— (see above) — but she doesn't complain anymore."

Yeah, those “W” words — War and Writing — wimps need not apply.

7) Hold on to that Dream

“Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.”

Tom Clancy lived the dream.

Seventeen of his novels were best-sellers…

Worldwide sales have topped 100 million.

Well done, Tom.

Well done.

PROMPT: Do all 7. Repeat as necessary.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Go Wild…or Domesticated

What if you could be an animal for a day?

What kind of animal would you be?

Now, you probably entertained these questions back in your shorter and younger days, but creative types would do well to revisit them.

For example, what is the world like from a dog’s point of view? I mean, how do they manage to bear the nasty smell of humans when a pile of rotted flesh is pure ecstasy?

While author Garth Stein didn't answer this last question in his book, The Art of Racing in the Rain, he does offer a fabulous account of a canine’s perspective. It’s worth a look, if you want a great model for doing this well.

And what about cats?  How do they tolerate the obvious stupidity of their servants… “If I've told you once, I've told you a THOUSAND times, breakfast must be served at 4:00AM and not a minute after. Sheesh.”

Or you could fictionalize the story of a real cat like this one — Oscar the gray-and-white resident of a Rhode Island nursing home. Apparently, he only gets cozy with the person who is next to die.

(insert creepy music here)

Yeah, that does give one pause… or rather, paws.

And Oscar’s personal account would be a perfect tale to pull together for Halloween.

You've got 30 days…

Unless, of course, a gray-and-white cat comes calling.

PROMPT: Pick your own pet perspective and go!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Delightful Discipline

Flight is for the flying.
© Kevan J. Atteberry

Back in the fall of 2011, illustrator Kevan Atteberry was looking for a challenge. 

He wanted to do some kind of exercise in self-discipline — something that would force him to do one creative thing each and every day.

Then on October 1st it hit him in a beastly sort of way —

“I’m going to draw a monster a day for the entire month of October,” he said to himself…

and his 1000+ friends on Facebook. Yes, this guy is brave!

Then he did it.

He found the process thrilling and maybe a little scary. Well, they were monsters, after all.

Actually, the scary parts were those days when he was sure that the well of beasts had run dry.

But somehow, when Kevan looked deep down inside…

He always found one more monster.

Which is pretty amazing considering that he is a super-nice guy.

On some days he used news events. Like when he heard that Steve Jobs had died on October 5th, he altered his illustration to reflect that. He also created a monster birthday tribute to John Lennon on the 8th.  

Of course, Monster-a-Day was a huge success! His friends loved that daily creature feature, and some were even lucky enough to win autographed prints in a contest he held at the end.

Did I tell you he was a nice guy?

You can check out a sampling from his Monster Albums here.

It’s the coolest form of self-discipline I've ever seen. And you know…

“With self-discipline most anything is possible.”
~Theodore Roosevelt

I’m thinking Teddy was just a tad tentative here because he obviously didn't have monsters…

Everybody knows that with self-discipline and monsters, EVERYTHING is possible.


Thanks, Kevan, for the inspiration!

PROMPT: Give yourself 30 days of discipline. And since October happens to have 31— you've got a bonus day to decide what you’ll do. For some terrific ideas, check out this TED talk by Matt Cutts. Then be sure to add MONSTERS...
Boogie Monster and Tickle Monster written by Josie Bissett and illustrated by Kevan J. Atteberry! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Money Magic

It isn't often that the word “Salem” puts a smile on your face.

You know — witches, trials, and whatnot.

But right now there's something going on in the other Salem (Oregon) that’s clearly magical without all of the pesky side effects listed above.

Apparently, the place has a money fairy!

It started a few weeks ago when folks shopping at the Fred Meyer store on Southeast Commercial Street began finding $100 bills tucked into their groceries.

Now the same thing is going down at the local Walmart where Franklins are popping up in boxes of cookies and under lids of chocolate syrup…

So, it’s pretty clear that this fairy has a bit of a sweet tooth.

But that’s all we know.

PROMPT: You’ll have to solve this one on the page. Who? What the..? and Why? are great places to start.

Then strap on a pair of wings and create some magical moments of your own.

Imagine the possibilities!