unplug replug- then do it again

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Our job as artists has two phases:
-unplugging for creation
-then plugging back in for sharing

We must constantly oscillate between the two actions to keep our ship afloat.

For some, the process of unplugging is painful; extroverts hate to be pulled away from their stimuli- their friends, their adventures. Sitting down and writing a script can be very painful and lonely for an extroverted artist.

For introverts, plugging into the network and sharing their work is painful. It’s tough to put yourself out there. Introverts fear people may not want to see their work, or may not appreciate it.

But, of course, without sharing, our work is created in a void for us and only us. We never get real world input on our ideas. We never get to see how our work impacts others. And worst of all, we don’t stand a chance of making money from our work, as people can’t pay for something you never get to see.

Likewise, without the deep concentration and intense focus that comes from unplugging, artists are unlikely to ever achieve the quality or volume of work that is necessary to stand out in the marketplace.

Both steps of this process can be as difficult or as easy as we want to make it. But the fact of the matter remains: both “plugging in” and “unplugging” are necessary evils.

It’s important for us artists to stop begrudging either step of this two-fold process- it has always been this way and will always be this way. Even very famous artists, who have publicists and agents representing them, must engage with the public at some point- they must put a face to the work and speak to the press.

Likewise, even the most media-savvy, digitally-connected artists need time away from the noise to think about their next book/film/work.

Plug-in, unplug, plug-in again.

We need start embracing these as two sides of the same coin. And we need to be nimble enough to move back and forth between the two, remaining lucid enough to know when we have spent too much time in one phase and we need to move to the next.

I’m unplugging right now if you haven’t guessed it. But I look forward to connecting with you…later.

Play the Hand Smart

play-pig-card-game-step-17-version-2We don’t get to pick the circumstances we were born into
the hardships that befall us
or the luck we are handed
life is riddled with happenstance fortune and accidental tragedy
the degree, volume, and timing of these circumstances are among the biggest variables of human experience
no two people’s circumstances are alike
we can no more begrudge someone born into great privilege playing every advantage handed them
then we can a poor person playing every card they can to get by
we all need to play our hand
to the best of our ability

like a game of cards, we don’t get to control what’s in the deck
we only get to play the cards we’re dealt
some of us are better strategists than others
some of us will have that strategy rewarded when we are met with the fortune of a good hand
some of us have no strategy, just a damn good hand
and some of us have loads of strategy, but our cards just never come up.

The first example is the one we need to focus on, and put our attention to.
Suppose we are dealt a good hand, but we are too foolhardy to recognize it’s potential and then don’t play it right?
That is a scary concept.

It’s a fact of life, there is a huge degree of chance involved.
Taking full acknowledgment of this fact,
we can relinquish our focus on these unpredictable variables and turn our focus to the things we can control
there really is no productive alternative but to do this.

we must stop pouring energy into terrible circumstances have befallen us
or the idea that we were never given a chance
or that so many others had so more advantages from the start
these are wasteful thoughts that only impede our focus on the new cards hitting the table
let’s focus instead on having the best control of the variables within our power
so that when our luck comes up, we can play the hand smart.

Face the Pain, Use the Pain

we artists have a great opportunity:
instead of running away from our pain
we can run with it
instead of drowning our sorrows in alcohol
we can channel our sorrows into our​ work
and instead of releasing our problems to a therapist
we can release our problems through our art
we can take the ugliness of the world and turn it into something beautiful

so while everyone around us is doing everything in their power to escape the pain
we are pouring our pain into a new creation,
using it as fuel.

it is a tremendous gift
we make lemonade from the lemons every damn day.

thus, we have no need to run away from anything in our lives
there is no waste
it is all useful to us

our work and life in tandem,
the pain and beauty as one.

The Later List for Manic Minds

I’m a hyperactive learner. I want to know everything I need to know, and I want to know it now, all at once.

This is an impossible desire. And it causes me stress.

It’s crushing to me when I consider how few books I will be able to read and how few skills I will have time to master within the limited capacity of my time on earth.

Especially considering the ever-growing research which posits the importance of focusing on a single task at a time. I now realize how important it is to invest my mind into the kind of deep work called for in my profession.

In my mind, there are so many urgent things which need to be addressed and learned, it makes it difficult to calm my mind into focusing on the task at hand.

Lately, the strategy of THE LATER LIST is helping me control this impulse.

When something pops into my mind- something that urgently needs to be addressed, a skill that I want to learn or a course or book I need to devote time to- I add it to the “later list.” Then I pencil in an approximate time-frame in the future where I may be free to address this concern with more focus.

This way, I can release the fear that these desires won’t be attended to. And I can feel confident that it is accounted for with adequate time allotted to its focus. That time just isn’t now, because now the task must be the ONE THING I’ve already decided on.

The Later List is helping to control my hyperactive mind and helping me focus.

Right NOW it’s all about the writing.

But here’s what’s coming up later:
-focus on a networking strategy and creating better systems for cataloging my industry contacts
-learn how to operate new Steadicam device my sister got for Christmas + employ this in a paid project
-focus on improving my knowledge of current technologies and trends as they relate to film and directing
-focus on improving my knowledge of investing
-focus on getting more commercials
-focus on landing tv directing gigs
-get involved in non-profit work
-adding options to automatically purchase prints of my photos on my website
-review Evernote notes from past few years
-review screenwriting/filmmaking saved materials on my computer- scripts, docs etc.. that are worth referencing back to.
-taking a freelancer course by Seth Godin

Changing the default to opt-out

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There are defaults on most sites you sign-up for. The default is usually set to opt you into subscribing you to whatever service or mailing list most benefits the company. Sadly, these defaults are not always in line with you and where you want to spend your energy or money.

You can often change these defaults, however. Instead of opting-in, you can choose to opt-out by clicking a separate box.

Opting-in can become not just a default, but a choice. You are then purposefully subscribing to a newsletter, or a service because you’ve deemed it valuable to YOU.

I’m obsessed with opting-out. I unsubscribe from every single newsletter, coupon, and update I receive in my inbox. I always ensure any unwanted email has been unsubscribed from. It takes some time and getting used to, but ultimately it saves me energy in the long run by not diverting focus to these items.

Likewise, we have defaults in the way we operate in our everyday life, whether we are aware of them or not. Do you automatically say yes to every networking event or every time a particular person asks you a favor ? Do you default to doing things you don’t want to, to spending time with people you don’t enjoy, just cause it’s easy?

Lately, I’m contemplating this notion of changing the defaults in my own life to opting-out. It’s great that the rest of the world wishes to be social, but that’s just not the part of my life I’m in right now while I’m writing, so I need to switch my defaults on many these social invitations from opting-in to opting-out. It’s won’t be a permanent thing (since I enjoy socializing), but it’s a necessary decision for me at the moment. It’s is difficult to do without suffering from massive FOMO, but I’m finding the time spent on such activities is massively compromising my output, so I need to.

Are you subscribing to activities that are not helping you achieve your goals? Are these activities frustrating you and making you anxious? It may be time to consider changing your defaults, from opt-in to opt-out.

By opting-out of one thing, we are opting-in to another. By saying no to what we don’t want, we are saying yes to more of what we do.

Dark Ponderings for Deeper Gratitude

Often in moments of extreme joy or beauty, I’ve been known to remark upon the fact that we will die.

My friends say this is more than a little morbid. I agree. I’ve never really understood why I do this.

Yesterday, I read some notes on Stoic Philosophy and realized there was a positive reason behind this practice of negative imagining. A reason beyond my own morbidity.

Darkness can be a tool for gratitude.

“As we go about our day, periodically pause to reflect on the fact that you will not live forever and therefore this day could be your last…There will be a last time you hear the sound of snow falling, watch the moon rise, smell popcorn, feel the warmth of a child falling asleep in your arms. Every time you do something could be the last time you do it, and this recognition can invest the things you do with a significance and intensity that would otherwise be absent.”

I like this idea. These dark thoughts that run counter to the beautiful moments serve​ a purpose. And we can harness the power of negative imaginings to better appreciate what we have while we have it.

Today, this idea is more resonant for me than usual. My family will all one day be gone, and thus, I am so grateful right now that they are all here now.