Keep the Aspidistra Dying: I’m an Artist Not a Creative Entrepreneur

When you’re a broke-ass-art-person, there’s about million podcasts and blogs and online courses encouraging you to create podcasts and blogs and online courses to help monetize your creative process by sharing it with other artists who, in turn, will create more podcasts and blogs and online courses. 
 
For me, this puts the “meta” in “metastasis” as this sort of thinking has been like a tumor in my creative career. So, Ima gonna take this here buck knife, put back that bottle of what-the-fuck-else-I’m-gonna-do, and cut the goddamn thing outta me.
 
As a career-long writer, I’ve been down this diverting wormhole more than a few times. Every time my industry was “disrupted” or I self-disrupted, I would start selling tours of the rag and bone shop of my expertise. I wrote ebooks, made podcasts, consulted. It worked, until it didn’t, and I’ve come to the personal conclusion that this kind of shit has derailed more than a few of us art peoploids.
 
Remember when we produced writing and art of substance instead of content? That’s what I’m talking about
 
I arrived at this crossroads last week after two incidents: First, I received eight emails from an artist hawking an online “creative entrepreneur” marketing class. After the second email — in an hour — I concluded that the spammer in question was a shitty a marketer and artist.

The second incident was of my own making: I pitched a couple of night classes to the local adult school because I figured I’d burnish my pseudo-professorial pose with some actual teaching. I focused on material that aligned with my own interests — something about Art House cinema, weird media, and then I threw in a ringer, the comparatively banal Podcasting for Non-Techies, a podcast class I’d taught before — a fine how-to that fits in a lunch hour but not a problem the Internet hasn’t already solved for you with thousands of different, cheaper tutorials. Guess which one the adult school booked? 
 
Listen, I’m happy to help, but if everyone wants to do what me and apparently everyone else is also doing, I better double down on the art to remain competitive, let alone sane.
 
I know this isn’t a popular opinion but if I was seeking popularity I’d be more famous by now and not ranting into the void of the Internet. But seeing as you’re here, and I’m here, I’ll presume we’re part of the same band of outsiders. We’re a Bande à part like the Godard film, or Tarantino’s production company, which spelled it A-P-A-R-T because, you know, the 90s. 
 
But what about the skill set we’ve developed? The bullshit corporate skills acquired in newsrooms and boardrooms (and probably men’s rooms)? What of these skills that weaponized my nascent talent until I became an overqualified but underwhelmed part of the very systems I once sought to destroy or at least avoid?
 
Like any Frankenstein monster, I suppose I’ll turn on my creators and destroy the systems that created me. I’ll be the art-guy equivalent of Liam Neeson: “I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a fucking nightmare for people like you…”
 
Of course, this a difficult position to monetize, to invoke the parlance. But I’m gonna strike that jargon from my vocabulary — so what if it’s the secret password to a meal ticket. Maybe I’ll just lose some goddamn weight. And most that, my friends, we’ll probably just be baggage — full of mixed metaphors.
 
I’m done shaming the starving artist, the romantics, the ones we tell that they just have to get their work out there and pray they get the right algorithmic alchemy going so the gates to the middle class open wide. Really, at this point, for me the only reason to keep the aspidistra flying is for target practice.
 
And you know who wrote Keep the Aspidistra Flying, right? Orwell! Will we ever listen to him? Maybe if he had a podcast and blog and online course, we’d pay attention but I dare say we can learn more — and teach more — through art.

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Creative Thinking and Drinking and Why it Works

I would like to buy a round of drinks for the researchers of a recent Consciousness and Cognition publication, Uncorking the muse: Alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving.

Though the cultural association between creativity and booze is long and storied, science had yet to make a formal connection, at least according to my research (which, admittedly, consisted of little more than Googling mid-Chimay ??god bless you Google Goggles). Continue reading “Creative Thinking and Drinking and Why it Works”

Do Deadlines Kill Creativity?

Do deadlines make you more creative? Marketplace commentator?Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work,?doesn’t think so. According to her research, professionals are?45% less likely to “come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem” when on extreme deadlines. Worse yet, your creative energies are apparently sapped for an additional two or more days due to a sort of deadline “hangover.”

Listen here.

Amabile suggests avoiding the “treadmill effect” wherein you’re running all day due to distractions and sequestering yourself into a quiet place. Brings to mind Jack Keroauc locking himself in a closet writing 10,000 words in a sitting whilst losing 10 pounds in the process. Albeit, he was on?benzedrine but the general idea is the same. Also, Amabile says,?”If you’re a procrastinator, maybe the most important change you can make is an attitude adjustment,” which raised the hackles of at least two commenters on the Marketplace blog where this bit was archived. As MJWilco replied, “Don’t insult us with simplistic advice. An ‘attitude adjustment?’ If that was true, I would have fixed all my problems in grade school.”

Love it. So, the question at hand is, “Do deadlines work for you?” Amabile says that “When you work under the gun, creativity is usually the first casualty.” Or does it just improve your aim?

Here are some of my previous thoughts on the notion:
How to Achieve Goals as a Deadline Junky & 5 Time Management Techniques for Writers

Google’s Think Quarterly releases The Creativity Issue

Besides perfecting its search engine, fostering user-generated video and releasing self-driving cars on our roadways, Google also manages to publish a quarterly online magazine from of their UK office. The latest edition of their Think Quarterly (a name, that at first glance, reads like a command to cogitate but once every three months), is “dedicated to digital creativity in its many forms ? from YouTube remixes to next-generation advertising to data visualizations ? and what it means for your business…” They also hope “it makes you feel like a kid again.” And it does.

Continue reading “Google’s Think Quarterly releases The Creativity Issue”