Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What I'm Reading: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby and some August Wilson

After the dense reading of Pittsburgh in Stages by Lynn Conner, I picked up Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked.  A fun, witty story well-told by one of my favorite writers (author of About a Boy and High Fidelity) was well needed.  

This is the kind of book you want to bring with you on vacation so you can spend an hour or two basking in the sun of Mexico and be entertained.  The last book of his I read, A Long Way Down, was over four years ago, and while I enjoyed that book, I think this was was more my speed.  

The main storyline is about a reclusive American singer-songwriter named Tucker who created one of the greatest breakup albums of all time (or at least comparable to Tangled Up in Blue).  After a believed epiphany in a Minneapolis bathroom, he disappeared for 29 years.  There is much heated internet discussion on his whereabouts, especially by one of the other main characters who lives in a northern town in the U.K. with his girlfriend of 15 years.  He gives a review of a new album, a release of raw acoustic versions of Tucker's songs, which causes his girlfriend to openly disagree with him and she ends up in contact with the real Tucker.

What I love about Hornby's characters, other than the sense of humor that is woven throughout all his scenarios and the funny dialogue, is that his characters are so human.  They have flaws.  And not just pick-your-nose flaws.  They're just trying to get by and finding hope in even the smallest things of life.  Like us.  Even the singer-songwriter who is seen as a music "god" by his fans is really just an ordinary dad who is getting old and constantly fails at relationships.  

Next up on my reading list are some more August Wilson plays.  I just finished reading Seven Guitars again (love that play) and am now going to read Radio GolfKing Hedley II and Jitney.  I’m hoping to just work my way through the cycle.  These plays inform each other in such wonderful ways (and now I get their Pittsburgh references since all but one are set in the Hill District).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tips for the auditioning actors

Are you wondering how playwrights are trying to help actors be brilliant in their texts?  

We are, you know.  We do love actors and want them to rock with our words.  And good playwrights know how to write for actors.  But you have to know where to look for these hints.  That's why I'm excited about doing a guest blog over at Detta's Audition Site.

So what are you waiting for?  Click the link below and check it out.

5 Tips for the Auditioning Actor (from a playwright)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I speak yinz now (well, not really...)

Just in case you missed the mention of it in my last post, I’m now blogging about my new adventures in the steel city (aka Pittsburgh).

Thing is, it's not really a “steel city” anymore.  In fact, it’s one of the most livable cities in the U.S., according to Forbes magazine.

Pittsburgh is…well, read the blog and find out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I'm reading: Out of this Furnace & Pittsburgh in Stages

This past couple of weeks has been like “History Month” for me as far as reading goes. 

As some of you might already know, I moved to Pittsburgh from Seattle just over a month ago.  While it was sad to say goodbye to some of the amazing and talented people we met in the pacific northwest, it is nice to be back on the east coast, and a little bit closer to family.

(I've never lived in Pittsburgh before, or any place like it so now I'm going to chronicle that newcomer experience in a new blog called I Speak Yinz NowCheck it out).

Having no knowledge or lay of the land is quite disorienting and so I’ve started reading some books that might help me get my bearing.  

First up, I read Thomas Bell’s book Out of this Furnace, which chronicles three different generations of immigrants who come to Braddock and end up working in the steel mills.  (Braddock is only a couple of miles from Pittsburgh proper and literally only a few miles from where I'm living now). Although the prose isn’t poetic and at times the reading can be dry and slow-going, this book does give you a feel for what it was like to come to this area a hundred years ago and try to survive.

What's also interesting is that some of the characters live in Homestead, just across the river, where there used to be a ton of steel mills.  Now there is the Waterfront, home to a huge shopping center which has all your standard stores like the Gap, Target, etc.  Some of the towering smoke stacks are still there, casting their shadows over the parking lots.

By the way, Braddock is now the focus of some infamous, and inspiring Levi’s commercials—check it out.

The other educational and helpful book I’ve read lately is Pittsburgh in Stages by Lynn Conner.  This takes the past hundred years and looks at theater and performances from the early days of Fort Pitt, to the burlesque shows of the 1920s on up to the more legit stages like the birth of the Pittsburgh Playhouse and the Pittsburgh Public Theater.  

Although at some points it definitely reads like a history book, it's chock full of great stories about theatre luminaries like Eleanora Duse and Lilly Langtry, as well as focusing on some of the well-known Pittsburghers, like renowned playwright August Wilson.

It’s essential reading for anyone wanting to know the theatrical context of this region.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Writing the solo show, pt.5: Live the story

One of my pet peeves with monodramas is when the performer tells me a story in the past tense. 

If I’m sitting in the audience in any play and I hear an actor say “I remember when…” it makes me cringe. 

We must not forget one of the qualities which makes theatre unique:

Theatre is present tense.

We don’t want you to “tell a story”. 

We want to see you live through a story in front of our eyes.

Oedipus Rex is not about what happened (even if it is set in Greek times).  As the audience, we watch the inevitable doom happen to Oedipus before our eyes.  We witness it.  It is in the witnessing of the events that we gain catharsis, or knowledge, or just sheer pleasure (if watching a guy gauge his eyes out is your kind of thing...I'm not judging.).

However, having said that, you are likely to write part of your solo show in the past tense, especially as you initially write things down.  That’s okay.  Most of the stuff I’ve been writing has been a lot of memories and stories in the past tense.  There are ways to dramatize it, put it in the present moment.  After I get all of the raw material down, then I’ll start to work on that.

Ultimately you don't want to create a piece of literature.  You want a performance.  You can only do one  thing a time, though.  First, write some text, then build a performance out of that.  

Live the story, don't tell the story.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writing the solo show, pt. 4: Finding your metaphor

I have this thing when I write.  I also use it when I direct a show, as well.  I try to find the metaphor.  This is something I picked up from reading that wonderful directing book by William Ball, I admit it.

So I'm developing my metaphor for my solo show and all I can do is think about this story.  Ideally, a metaphor should be one sentence (ie American Buffalo is boys playing king of the hill), so bear with me, as this story is a little long:

I’m eleven years old and home alone.  We live in two-story house in Reno, Nevada.  I have recently seen the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark at the movie theater, probably for the tenth time.  

Inspired and wanting to be Indiana Jones, I run around the house with a short rope, pretending it’s a whip and I use it to ward off the Nazis. 

The house we live in has a great big foyer and the staircase on the first floor juts out a bit as the stairs run up alongside a landing with a railing on the second floor.  I decide its time to use the whip to swing across a great chasm of death, as Indy does in the movie.  I tie the rope to the upstairs railing.  My thought is to swing from the steps on the stairwell, my body flying out above the foyer, across the chasm, landing safely on top of the railing on the first level where the staircase juts out.  

I hear the trumpets of the Raiders theme in my head and I swing.  I soar through the air, hands holding tight to the rope, landing easily on the railing, carefully balancing.  I swing back again and smirk to myself, thinking, “I am Indiana Jones!”. 

So I do it again. 

Only this time, the rope doesn’t hold.

My body is suddenly adrift, my mind unsure of what is actually happening, and I fall backwards, crashing with a thud on the front hallway tile.  The wind is knocked out of me so hard I can’t breathe.  I’m lucky I my head isn’t cracked open, but as I wheeze and gasp for air, I think I’m going to die and my mom is going to walk in the front door of our house, see her dead son and wonder what the hell happened. 

Finally, I catch my breath.  I’m able to stand up.  Everything seems fine, nothing broken.  

I look at the rope on the floor which seems like a dead snake.

I realize for the first time, “I am not Indiana Jones”.

The idea is that we all have dreams, childhood dreams perhaps, but then reality brings us back down to earth.  Literally, in my case.

We can’t always do the things we want to do.  We can’t always be the things we want to be.  That’s just life.  It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in dreaming big dreams.  I believe in following your goals.  As Randy Pausch said in his last lecture, “brick walls are there to see how badly you want something”.  I do believe that.  But Randy, who wanted to be an astronaut, never got to be an astronaut.  He got close—he rode the “vomit comet” and felt what it was like to be in zero gravity, which was what he really wanted, but he never got to be an astronaut.

What I’m talking about is the difference between perception and reality.  I can't magically become six feet tall.  I can't run a 4 minute mile.  I can’t reverse the clock, pretend like I'm 25 years old.    

I can’t change the weather, only dress for it.

My solo show is about the fantasy of the "Real Man" and the reality of what it means to be a man.  Our perception and reality don't always coincide. 

Here are the major questions behind my metaphor:

What does it mean to be a real man?  When and how do we conceptualize this idea of real men and how does it affect us for the rest of our lives?

Indiana Jones exemplifies manliness.  As a boy I looked up to him because he was intelligent, brave, strong, a good fighter, good with the women, comfortable in a jungle or in the classroom, and fought for what he believed in.  He was one of the good guys.  

And let’s face facts, he looked cool, with that hat and leather jacket.  And the whip.  (and yes, I do have a whip even now…) 

There are many other images and faces of “real men”.  Think about Superman and Clark Kent.  Think about the Dark Knight.  Think about actors like Clint Eastwood, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Jack Nicholson, George Clooney, Clive Owen.  We carry around these ideas of what “manhood” looks like…that’s what I want to explore. 
More often than not, what we think is manly really turns out to be something else.  We find out we are something else.  

Maybe more than what we thought. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Writing the solo show pt. 3: Let's get physical

In 1916, a writer of the Evening Sun in New York by the name of Don Marquis, created a fictional poet by the name of Archy. He also happened to be a cockroach with the soul of a human. From this downtrodden, underbelly view of the world, Archy shows how he sees life, and death and religion, and we meet his friend, Mehitable, an alley cat who is the re-incarnation of Cleopatra.

Archy types one letter at a time, without punctuation or much grammar, yet is quite lucid and poetical (and this pre-dates e.e. cummings, by the way).

Take this excerpt from the most famous poem, where Pete the Parrot talks about Shakespeare, the poor mutt, who he knew well:

money money says bill what the hell
is money what i want is to be
a poet not a business man

these damned cheap shows
i turn out to keep the
theatre running break my heart

slap stick comedies and

blood and thunder tragedies
and melodramas say i wonder

if that boy heard you order

another bottle Frankie
the only compensation is that i get

a chance now and then
to stick in a little poetry

when nobody is looking

but hells bells that isn t

what i want to do
i want to write sonnets and
songs and spenserian stanzas
and i might have done it too
if i hadn t got
into this frightful show game

business business business

grind grind grind

what a life for a man

that might have been a poet

Last post I mentioned one should do some research—read some solo shows or go see them. Friday night I got the chance to see Gale McNeeley perform his solo show Archy & Mehitabel. Complete with songs and recitations, characters from the poems and stories came to life due to Gale’s physicality and multiple voices.

Which brings me to my next thing to think about when writing a solo show, or rather, the thing I’m thinking about now.

 And that’s to remember that theatre is a physical activity.

Playwrights often forget this, which is why we see a lot of “talking heads” shows or plays that feel more like TV (which is also very aurally dependent as opposed to film which relies heavily on images).

Even though the above excerpt is a rich text-driven piece of poetry, Gale is able to inhabit multiple characters through his voice, body, and movements. We see him do Archy, by use of a 1920s style hat, and then launch into being Pete the Parrot, a drunken Will Shakespeare, a bloated Ben Johnson, and also Frankie Beaumont (some random bar patron, I assume).

Gale has extensive training in dell’arte and European clowning, which means he understands how a simple gesture, a slight variation in stance can create character and move a story along. Playwrights forget that. They rely too heavily on the words. Words are only part of the story. We’re not building a radio show. It’s live theatre.

Here’s a trick to think about when developing your monologues. Not all of us have dell’arte or clown training (I certainly don’t). You can still think of physicality in the simplest terms by thinking about activities that can be done. What can your character be doing that might coincide with what’s going on in the scene?

For instance:
a pregnant mom talking about her anxieties of being a new mother might be knitting baby socks
a musician changing strings on a guitar.
a man who just got his heart broken might be talking about his ex-girlfriend while he systematically rips up love letters

You don’t always necessarily need some kind of physical activity. There are times when the text needs to be front and center with little movement at all. But in the early stages of writing, it helps to remember and think about the physical three-dimensional space these characters will inhabit.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Solo show inspiration: a little Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones, clips from her performances and talking about her process.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Writing the Solo Show, pt. 2; See, Read, Write & Repeat

In the first part of this series of writing a solo show, I talked about “personal” v. “private”.  Now, let’s think about how you get started.

My recommendation is to first get your hands on some scripts for solo shows. 

(Actually, I would recommend going to SEE solo shows, if you can, but depending on where you live, this might not be feasible.  When I was living in NYC, I was able to see the mesmerizing Sarah Jones do her show down at P.S. 122 before she "made it", saw a dell'arte show by Joanne Shirle, and saw Eric Bogosian's Wake Up at the Jane Street Theater, among many others by lesser known actors.  There is no substitute for seeing these types of amazing performers doing top notch material.  And...tonight I’m off to see a solo show tonight at the University of Pittsburgh, Archy & Mehitabel by a dell’arte performer Gale McNeeley.  I’ll post about that next time.)

Don’t just look at the the usual suspects like Mike Daisey, Anna Deavere Smith, Eve Ensler, Eric Bogosian, Lily Tomlin, or Spalding Gray.  There are the most popular shows like Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife, Sarah Jones’ recent Broadway hit, Bridge & Tunnel, Sam Shepard’s Kicking a Dead Horse (which I saw in NYC, read here for more), or the brilliantly off-beat Thom Paine (Based on Nothing) by Will Eno.  

Also try to get any and all obscure ones.  Find out if any actor friends have written a show and ask if you can read it.  (I just did that on Facebook, actually…)

You’ll find that these solo shows will be as unique as their creator.  Some will be character-based, some documentaries, some more text-driven, others more song or movement.  Some will be funny and some political.  There will be some similarities.  The important thing is, you’ll start to get ideas about your own show. 

This is where you should start asking yourself, what does my show look and feel like?  What do I want my audience to experience? 

Jot down those ideas, no matter how outlandish they may seem. 

Creating content for a first draft is, quite frankly, the most daunting part.  Don’t concern yourself with how much you need to produce—whether it’s a ten minute show, an hour show, or longer.  Get down the main ideas and thoughts first.  Like any first draft, don't worry about quality.  Get it down.  All of it.  Most will suck, but that's okay.  You're digging for gold, so you're gonna get dirty.

If you’re an actor, you can have a lot of fun writing the first draft.  There’s no reason to sit down with pen and paper or at the computer.  You have the freedom to discover your characters on your feet, with or without any text to start. Eric Bogosian used to perform his monologues as an improv into a tape recorder then go back and rewrite/edit it.  That’s one way of doing it.  Sarah Jones talks about how she got most of her characters from riding the subway.

Creating the solo show is ideally the best way to highlight your own performance talents, so cater it for yourself, the performer.  I play guitar and harmonica and write silly songs.  Is that going to be in my solo show?  You bet.  There are certain types of characters I can do well and others I can’t.  Sure, I could challenge myself, but hey, writing a solo show is challenge enough, don’t you think?

To get you started, here is a quick (and by no means exhaustive) reading list:

Books about solo performance:
Extreme Exposure, Edited by Jo Bonny
The Solo Performer’s Journey by Micheal Kerns
Your Name Here by Susan Merson

Solo Scripts (in no particular order):
Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett
Not I by Samuel Beckett
Act Without Words by Samuel Beckett
Kicking a Dead Horse by Sam Shepard
Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) by Will Eno
Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith
I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright
Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler (not a solo show but it is monodrama)
Bridge & Tunnel by Sarah Jones
Sex, Drugs & Rock’n’Roll by Eric Bogosian
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee by Eric Bogosian
Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray
Monster in a Box by Spalding Gray
My Name is Rachel Corrie, edited by Katharine Viner & Alan Rickman
Lackawanna Blues by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Moonshot Tapes by Lanford Wilson (short play)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Feed Your Soul

In my undergrad days at UNLV, I had a brilliant and wonderful theatre teacher named Davey Marlin-Jones. 

He was our Yoda.  He even looked a little like Yoda, although much, much taller and he wasn’t green.  He was a playwright and magician and theatre was magic to him because all of life was magic to him.  Often, we’d be waiting for him in the dingy Paul Harris Theatre, this little 99 seat venue on campus, and he’d burst in through the doors, stride down to the front, take off his hat in a flourish as if he was going to make it disappear and then dazzle us with some theatrical insight. 

He was also great quips which we would later coin as “Davey-isms”.  Such as:

“What’s the difference between what your character expects and what they actually get?” – his note for when we were anticipating in the scene
“Drive it like a Maserati” – this was his note for energy and speed
“You could drive a semi through those pauses” –another note for picking up cues
“You were a little less late that time” – that note is obvious

What I loved about Davey, though, was the personal connections.  He was deeply invested in his students and their growth as artists.  Whenever I would meet with him in his office, he would as me, “what are you doing to feed your soul?”

It’s the best question ever.  One that I ask myself regularly.

What does it mean?

In an earlier post I talked about Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST WAY and the two basic tools: the morning pages and the artist date.

The artist date is her version of feeding your soul.  It’s the way that we take care of our inner child, our internal artist, that core inside of us that fills us with passion and inspiration and the need to create and share with others.  Our soul drives our creative spirit and must be fed.

It means going to see a play, going to old b&w film, going for a walk in the woods, feeding the ducks, going to a museum, listening to an opera, or any other endeavor that inspires you.  When I lived in NYC, my company card let me in to most of the major museums and MoMA was right down the street, so I would literally spend a lunch hour eating up the modern art.  Or I would browse a bookstore, pick up a poetry book and read it for thirty minutes. 

The artist date is more than just watching MAD MEN (although I do love to watch that show).  It is more than just reading Variety or the NY Times.  It doesn’t have to be work-related.  You don’t always have to watch dance shows if you’re a dancer.  Some of my plays have been inspired by paintings that have nothing to do with a play.  Whatever moves you feeds your soul.  You don’t have to always look for the quantifiable results. 

So go out and feed your soul.  Take care of your self.  

You deserve it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Going Solo: writing the solo show, pt. 1

A few months ago, I got a request from a reader for advice and tips on writing a solo show.  Now, I’ve never written a solo show, but okay, I’ll admit it—like any other actor, I’ve always thought about putting a show together for myself. 

And then my stomach flips over with angst and fear.

Anything worth doing is difficult, most likely, and now I have actually started to ignore the nagging fears and have started putting together some writing for the purpose of a solo show.  So I will gladly post some of my thoughts on the subject as I try to tackle the beast called “monodrama”.  There are other more experienced folks who have written books on this subject, so I encourage you to do your own research.

First off, I know there are theatre-goers out there would rather rip off their own arm and eat it rather than sit through any solo show.  I have seen a fair amount, actually, and most of them succeeded or failed on the strengths of the actor or the writing.  Some, however, were beautiful combinations of text and performance.

The biggest problem with the solo show is the same with any kind of writing—you can fall into the “private” category instead of the “personal” category.  The result is that if the audience is not friends or family, they don’t care about any of your problems.  I’m sure you’ve seen this show before—it’s usually self-indulgent, theatre-as-therapy perhaps with a dash of nostalgia and melodramatic emotion, with themes ranging from “why can’t I get work as an artist” to “why my mom and I never got along”.

“Personal” v. “Private”

I learned this concept when I took my first poetry writing class and it's always stuck.  What’s the difference?  Personal is something you reveal about yourself that is universal, that everyone can relate to and therefore, will empathize with you.  Private is so personal that only a small circle of friends might understand it.  This type of writing doesn’t bring the audience in on it, but keeps them at a distance. 

And here is the key to the successful solo performance.  A solo show is not about “I, I, I, me, me, me, the performer”.  It’s about the audience.  It’s about “I have to tell YOU this story and here’s what YOU will get out of it.” 

Many monodramas ignore the fourth wall (but not all).  They use the audience, feed off the audience, and the audience knows it.

Of course, this is common sense, right?  The actor-audience relationship is crucial with all good theatre, but even more so with the solo show because 90% of the time, there’s no set, few lights, just one actor and a crowd of people.

So how do you get to that place of writing/performing “personal” stuff?  

That’s coming up in pt. 2.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Looking for help with auditions?

Recently I have thrust myself out into the world as an actor, after focusing on writing/directing and teaching.

(And yes, that is my old headshot, new ones to be shot soon...)

I love acting, but I’ll be honest, I hate looking for a job.

This creates a problem since most of your time as an actor is spent looking for a job, which involves a lot of auditioning.

 I've never enjoyed auditioning and I'm not alone.

I love being in a rehearsal room, love analyzing and working on text, love working on stage with other actors, or being inspired by an amazing play or a ingenious director.  Auditioning, though, is its own unique beast.  Some actors audition well yet don't work well in rehearsals.  Some actors don't audition well but can be amazing actors.  Of course, the ideal is to be great at both.

What's interesting about my return to acting is that I am now in an entirely different age bracket for casting then when I first moved to NYC.  I’m finally old enough to play some of the parts I tried to work on in college and struggled with for lack of age and experience.

Trouble is, all my old monologues for auditioning won’t work anymore. So, I am off hunting through my library (and the public library), scouring for the perfect monologue to sell my acting talent.

Acting is a lot of waiting to be cast. Much is out of your control, which can be infuriating. There is one thing that you can control and control well; the power of your audition. You can work on your monologues, your songs, and craft two minutes of greatness on your own. Indeed, you should.

The great thing is, you can get help. All I can say is, thank goodness for people like Bradetta Vines and her blog.

Who is Bradetta Vines? She is an amazingly talented actress and teacher who has just launched a blog for all you aspiring actors and actresses who may be daunted by the task of auditioning. If you are looking for some help on putting your book together or how to find a monologue, I suggest you check out her blog and get some tips from a seasoned actress, a wonderful teacher and all-around great lady.

And I’m not just saying that because I saw her hilarious rendition of the “Miss Piggy” monologue from my play GREEN-EYED MONSTER.

(Which is published in Audition Arsenal for Women in Their 30s...hint, hint...go buy it now...hint, hint)

Some people think that acting and directing is solely an interpretive art (unlike playwriting). I disagree. Actors need to fill a void, too.  That void exists in the blank space between and underneath the words/text.  Mostly this is interpretive, but it doesn’t have to be. Putting together an audition piece is your chance to make two minutes of theater and though there are some guidelines, the choice of material and the choice of performance is solely up to you.

So go forth and make art, you bold actors and actresses!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Getting your mojo back

So you’ve taken a break from writing, or acting, or directing, or (fill in the blank here) and now you’re wondering,…

“How do I get my creative mojo back?”

The answer is easy: write every day.

I’m not a touchy-feely earth-spirit kind of person. I believe in showing up at the keyboard and getting down to work. Inspiration is for amateurs, and besides, if inspiration strikes, as the man says, then I’d rather be at my desk when it does.

 Many years ago, however, I read that fabulous and inspiring book THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron.

In this book she lists two basic tools: the morning pages and the artist date.

I believe these are crucial for any artist for obvious reasons. But let me share my thoughts on the first activity, the morning pages.

These are merely three pages of stream of conscious writing (She suggests longhand but I type them…). There are no rules of what to write about, no boundaries and most importantly, NO ONE will ever see them. Unless you want them to, I guess, but what’s the point of that? It is a brain dump activity.

I find the morning pages go from negative thoughts to uplifting thoughts to grocery lists, to regrets, to desires, to everything in between. Some days it feels like hard work just to describe the morning coffee, and other days, I fly past the three-page mark in a matter of minutes. It becomes a daily ritual.

It may feel like nonsense writing. It may seem silly and useless. Over time, you start to find that your mental attitudes throughout the rest of the day will change. It will sneak up on you. Suddenly you have an idea for a poem, a song, or a way to direct a scene, or attack a character, a way of thinking you might not have had before. It instills in you this idea that you don’t have to wait to be “in the mood” or inspired. You can create anytime, anywhere. It unblocks you.

I took a break from writing these morning pages for a few years. Over the past two or three years, I wasn't writing as freely as once before. It felt harder to be creative, harder to fight my INNER CRITIC. Things didn’t flow.

Recently, I have begun the practice again, of writing these pages every day. Already I feel more balanced. I feel that it is easier to get my thoughts down quicker without thinking about it, judging it, or criticizing it. Sometimes I do them right when I get up (with a cup coffee beside me), and other days I write after a short run. But I always write something, anything, before working on anything else. I find it frees the clutter in my head. I can also use the time to think/write through issues, problems of a personal and professional nature. It’s not just journaling about daily life, it’s more free than that. It’s a creative tool.

Scientific evidence shows that your body adapts to whatever it does on a daily basis. Your mind, contrary to belief, is part of your body. If you train your mind to freely write and ignore your INNER CRITIC, you will carry that practice with you every day, in all things, no matter what you are working on.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beware these thoughts when starting a new project

These are by no means the "TOP TEN", but if you're like me, when you're starting a new project, they find their way sneaking into the back of your brain. 

None of them are worth paying any actual attention to.  Don't ignore them, though. Recognize these little dark demons lurking in the corner so you can look them straight in the eye and say, "BUZZ OFF!"

1)            “My desk needs to be organized all over gain.”

2)            “This is going to be total crap”

3)            “What will people think of me after I write this?”

4)            “I don’t think this is very original.”

5)            “What’s the point—no one will read it”

6)            “Why is it so hard to get this thing started?  It shouldn’t be this hard!”

7)            “I think there are some dirty dishes in the sink.”

8)            “My old high school English teacher was so right—this isn’t even worth handing in to her…”

9)            “Maybe I should take up gardening.”

10)         “I’ll write tomorrow—I’m not inspired today.”