Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

Building a prototype

via giphy

Amorphous. Elastic. A concept within a concept.

You can wait until you get your hands on a 3D printer to build out an idea, or you can create one now with silly putty, legos, or pen and paper.

The tools are tools, and our minds fabricate the rest. Stick figures may not produce reality, but they’re good enough to get a design across.

People learn best visually, information as a collection of stills. Tangibility is a nice to have. Whatever stimulates the senses, drives home the point.

You’re better off pulsating the mind with image clusters rather than depending on the persuasion of deadwood words.

Categories
Creativity Writing

All writing is in the edit

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Like photography, all writing is in the edit.

When you fall into writer’s block — a myth, by the way — you should move freely between devices, formats, and even different places in order to shake out of it. Here’s one recommended writing approach I encourage you to try: 

First, start writing on paper to help generate ideas. Anything goes. Then type out what’s worth keeping on to your phone to finesse your text. Better yet, throw the first draft onto different apps like WordPress (read why I recommend WordPress for blogging here), Byword, Bear, or iAWriter and then process it for grammar through the Hemingway App or my favorite writing assistant, Grammarly.

In summary: 

  1. Write everything out on paper
  2. Type your notes out on your phone or computer
  3. Copy-paste written text into an app like Grammarly for proofreading

Blogger Michael Lopp sums up his writing process nicely in How to Write a Blog Post:

Repeat until it starts to feel done in your head. If it’s handwritten, type it into a computing device. When you are close to done, print it out on paper. Sit somewhere else with your favorite pen and edit your work harshly. If this piece is important, let someone else edit harshly.

That’s right! Print it out and edit it in a different place altogether. Some writers think better to the hum of the coffee shop, JK Rowling included. Others need absolute silence, preferring to stare at a wall so that the only work to look at is the one being created in the mind’s eye.

artwork by Alessandra Olanow

Write with intent to publish

Do you do your best proofreading after your writing is out there in the wild?

Write with intent to publish. Hitting the publish button forces you to scrutinize your work more closely. If you’re lucky it’s a blog post you can go back and edit. If it’s a tweet or an email, you might be fat out of luck.

The writing process is a messy one that includes not only different formats but also different writing environments. Sometimes a great sentence starts on paper; other times it starts on your smartphone. Just be ready to review it a few times before you hit publish.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work

Keep them guessing

They say write to be understood. But what’s the point in spelling it all out?

Said author William Faulkner in an interview with the Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

FAULKNER

Read it four times.

Write to be misunderstood?

It doesn’t hurt to make an arcane reference here and there to keep the reader guessing. Obscurity is luminosity.

Said author Jonathan Franzen in lunch with the Financial Times:

“I think you have to have a few things that you have to kind of chew on to get.”

When you first listen to a new Radiohead song, something about it sounds off. But after a few listens, the sounds in between appear and ameliorate Thom Yorke‘s mystical voice. Nothing makes sense, but the emotional tug works, the same way laughter doesn’t need thought.

It shouldn’t be the author or musician’s goal to demystify everything. The maker is often still figuring it out himself, recasting their own interpretation.

Categories
Arts Creativity Tech

Art constitutes thought’s core

We don’t make art because we need to. We do it because we have to. It’s not just an addiction; it is therapy.

Without our work or side projects, we are an empty shell. Each project gives us meaning.

“Art is a line around your thoughts.”

Gustav Klimt, Austrian painter

Yet, the tendency to overthink our work’s value often misconstrues the act of performing it. Sometimes making stuff doesn’t need thought nor interpretation. Like laughter, it just is.

The power to take a picture, draw, run a science experiment, or just write clears the fog of perfection or the need to appease others. The end product is not always for Instagram but for us. Art constitutes our thought’s core.

The homogeneity of stuff begs our mind to make what’s unique to the person. Limits are self-inflicted. Artists are inspired individuals, especially when they are working.

Categories
Books Creativity

Take what you’ve done and throw it away

If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away. The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, “Bye. I have to go. I’m going crazy and I’m getting out of here.” And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.

Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Categories
Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy Photography

Camera obscura

Sometimes it’s the written word. Other times, it’s a still photo. If the camera is too revealing, we can communicate via video or sound. Said filmmaker Robert Bresson’s in his 1975 book Notes on the Cinematograph: “A locomotive’s whistle imprints in us a whole railroad station.” 

Communication is a game of elements. Film is the art of combining images and sounds; it excludes what overexplains or impresses.

“One should not use the camera as if it were a broom.”

Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematograph

A good filmmaker lets the mind dance with imagination. A movie is both a creative and viewing experience. It can be dull and instantly lively, like the pendulum of our everyday lives. 

“My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.” 

Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematograph

Read The Elements of Style