Being Creative…

2015-08-01_16-28-31.pngSome people seem amazed that I have put out about 400 posts a year for over five years here at RJsCorner! But in reality I usually struggle to limit it to that many! 🙂

I often, like today, have at least twenty posts ready to go online. No, I don’t spend all day at my computer writing. In fact I usually spend no more than part of a couple of days a week engaged in generating posts.  I know my blogging process is probably unique to me but maybe some of you can learn something from it.

My process for daily posts here at RJsCorner is to browse my Internet news sources every morning and saving possible post stories to a draft file.  Other sources are the books I constantly read and of course inspirations from my heroes in life and of course what comes off the top of my head. 🙂  Most of my post ideas are just a few quotes or maybe a editorial cartoon that gets me to thinking. At any one time there are usually about 30 or more stories in my draft bin. When a story goes there it  somehow starts automatically brewing in my mind.

I don’t fully understand the internal process but I often find that I am at least subconsciously thinking about a couple dozen stories at any given time. Sometimes this process changes the original thoughts almost completely. Sometimes they go almost immediately to a published post and often times some end up in the trash. How I juggle all of this is a mystery to me; it just seems to happen.

2015-08-01_16-25-42.pngWhen my mind spews out just the “right” words  it then goes over to the scheduled bin where it usually sits for a couple more weeks. During this period I review  it several times with slight editions here and there.  As it gets close to the publish date each post gets a final review for grammar, any final thoughts and maybe a picture added. There are also time when like Whitman’s Leaves of Grass where I continue to edit a post even after it has been published. I just can’t seem to leave them alone.

That is my creative process. Sometimes my creativity is so active that I flesh out a dozen posts a day and sometimes a week goes by without any additional words being added. I don’t fully understand the process but one thing I do know is that I am passionate about most everything I write. I also recognize that I am obsessed with writing. It is something that I am just addicted to. I simply can’t not write even if no one cares to read the words I must put them to paper.

I don’t imagine I am unique in this regard. I know some of my heroes in life were addicted to the same thing. Teddy Roosevelt kept daily journals throughout his life. Thomas Jefferson wrote over 10,000 letters in his lifetime. And of course Will Rogers put out daily newspaper articles for most of this life before it was abruptly ended. That puts me in pretty good company if you ask me.

 

Winter Cardinals in the Old Apple Tree

Winter Cardinals-2.jpg

I never tire of taking more pictures of the winter cardinals in the old apple tree in our backyard. As always they are gobbling up the sunflower seeds at our feeder after the recent winter storm.

Click on the image to see a larger version…

Artistry of Nature…

Artistry of Nature.jpg

With my new macro lens in hand I am finding the artistry of nature almost everywhere I look… Yeah, I still got a lot of these works of art in my yard. 🙂

About Knowing…

I went to quite a few “summer camps” during my corporate career. These were multi-day seminars most often in the summer to teach me one thing or another about how to do my job better.  They were rah rah sessions to keep me excited about what I was doing. Some of them were worthwhile, some were just boring. But since the company paid all the expenses and they were a welcome change from the day-to-day office.

One of the summer camps I remember most vividly was about discovery. The cubes below stick with me almost thirty years later:

Knowing

  1. Obviously you know what you know. These are things that stick with you for periods of time. For instance you know your birth date and some of us even know our wedding anniversary. These are things that we know and we know that we know.  Some are essential to our lives.
  2. Then there are things that you know that you don’t know. For instance I know that I don’t know much of anything about nuclear physics or biology.  These types of things I trust other to know so I don’t need to.
  3. The third category is the one that most often gets us in trouble.  Some these things we think we know but we really don’t. These include many of the reasons for our various prejudices.  We think all people of color are to be avoided.  Our knowledge in this cube is faulty due to our limited exposure to the topic or maybe an ingrained belief drilled into us by others.
  4. The fourth cube is where discovery, creativity and insight come from. We just don’t know what we don’t know. For some that is as far as it goes.  But for others it is a realization that we have much to learn.  The way to turn this cube into a positive is to be open to possibilities that we have never been exposed to.  It means actively thinking outside the box.  I pride myself in keeping box number 4 front and center in my daily life. I am open to possibilities I never knew existed.

Unfortunately there are some that absolutely refuse to even consider cube four exists. They are stuck in their current circumstances and refuse to acknowledge any other possibilities. Most often their lives are dark and often negative. They are anti almost everything unknown to them.

Question everything and always think outside your box.

I am that wise guy

TWiG 1

 

Ten Headed Monster???

Ten Headed Monster

This is kind of an eerie picture but in reality it was once a thing of great beauty. As the cycle of life typically goes it was once a beautiful flower in my wife’s garden

We All Need A Creative Boost Once In A While…

Creative PhotographerI admit that I struggle with my creativity from time to time. Sometimes it comes in quick spirts  and sometimes I hit long dry spells. I, like most of you I imagine need a creative boost once in a while. To accomplish that I have numerous books on the shelves behind me and in my Kindle to give me some encouragement. The Creative Photographer by Catherine Anderson is one I frequently pull off the bookshelf. It isn’t about the technical aspects of photography but totally focuses on the creative side.

MyScans154I find it fascinating that Catherine started out as a lawyer before she found her creative side.  If you are into photography as I am I highly recommend picking up a copy of this small book. It just might get you moving again. She just might give you a different way to look at what you photograph…

(I have received no compensation from anyone for this endorsement)

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee-2The Milwaukee Art Museum is a very unique and stimulating place. It is made of glass and steel. We found this creation in the lobby the first time we entered. I thought it was meant to be a centerpiece but in reality it is for cleaning the glass windows. This proves that creative art does not have to be only for art’s sake 🙂

Cracking Creativity – What If….

DebateGeniuses think productively, not reproductively. When confronted with a problem, they ask themselves how many different ways they can look the problem, how they can rethink it, and how many different ways they can solve it, instead of asking how they have been taught to solve it….

Leonardo da Vinci believed that to gain knowledge about the form of a problem, you began by learning how to restructure it to see it in many different ways. He felt the first way he looked at a problem was too biased toward his usual way of seeing things. He would look at his problem from one perspective and move to another perspective and still another. With each move, his understanding would deepen, and he would begin to understand the essence of the problem. Leonardo called this thinking strategy saper vedere or “knowing how to see.”

Michalko, Michael (2011-04-13). Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius. Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony. Kindle Edition.

I like to think that I am like Leonardo in that I try to look at things from different angles instead of just concentrating on my first thoughts which are often biased in one regard or another. I like to think that, but too often I am just too lazy to do the work required to think beyond my current worldview. I’m afraid my laziness is somewhat typical in that regard. But, at least I try to get out of my box and see things differently on occasion.

Looking at things from different angles is critical in really understanding the world around us. Sometimes we just get too complacent, or maybe too lazy, to keep an open mind on much of how we view life.  We should all get into the practice of saying “what if” more often. We should all realize that maybe we don’t have all the answers and even the answers we think we currently have just may be wrong.

What if…..

Knowing how to see is primary to being insightful and isn’t that something we all strive to be? Let’s purposely chose to look at things from one perspective and then move on to another and still another. I know this would be very foreign to most of us. We, especially in the U.S., seem to lock on to one way of looking at things and them totally disregard the rest. That fact seems totally obvious given our dysfunctional government and by our bipolar society. What if we tried to put ourselves into someone else’s shoes?

Debating teams, which used to be somewhat common in our educational system is great at fostering looking at things from other points of view.  A topic is presented for debate and one team is given the task of argue for the topic and one against it. It forces the team members to look at things from different perspectives. But I suspect the true art of debating is pretty much lost in many generations now.  I know it is gone from our political debates. All they are about now is sticking to your message no matter what the topic is. They are about never saying anything that might offend their base.

Insight 4 — Creativity…

One part of me that I often struggle with is my level of creativity. I never think I have enough. Yeah, I know it takes creativity to blog the amount that I do. I think I have created somewhere in the neighborhood of five thousands post on my various blogs over the years but the creativity I think I miss out on is the artistic type. I am never satisfied with that aspect of my life.  Here is a quote from Ernie to start our discussions in this area.

 

tree of flower - concept of lifeYou as a creative individual have the ability to pursue interesting activities. Creative expression is the natural inclination of life.  Keep reminding yourself that retirement can be a series of adventures and wonderful discoveries because deep down you are a creative person and not a boring one.

Researchers at the University of Southern California confirm that variety is the spice of life. They found that individuals who regularly do new things, such as going to places they have never been or playing a new game, are happier and have a greater sense of well-being than people who keep doing the same old things. The researchers concluded that people with many interests live not only happiest, but longest, too….

Don’t lose touch with the craziness within yourself. Often one gets a reputation for mental stability simply because one doesn’t have enough courage to make a fool of oneself. Is it more important to live with zest or to have people think nice things about you? The point is, if you want to be truly alive, forget about what people think. Zelinski, Ernie  How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor (Kindle Locations 1872-1874).

 Doing new things does make me happy. I seem to abhor what I consider stifling routine. I do have many interests, I always say my hobby is having hobbies but I don’t seem to spend enough time at any of them in order to get the level of satisfaction that I want. Another book I am reading is entitled “Creative Photographer” by Catherine Anderson. Here is snippet about what she says about creativity:

It is important too me to spend some part of my day in creative activity. The process of creating seems to balance and calm me… I think a daily connection to our creative work is how you grow as an artist. To be a good photographer you need to practice. 

I don’t know if it is possible for me to lose my craziness within myself. That is probably one of my most distinguishing characteristics. I don’t particularly care that some think I am crazy, as a matter of fact I actually take pride in the fact that people can’t predict what I will do or say next. 🙂

Lets finish off this post with another native Hoosier and one of the most creative people of his generation.

I’m eighty-one now. I would have been eighty-two, but I lived a year in Winnipeg. — Red Skelton

 <<<This is part of a continuing series of my year-end discernment period. Scroll down the center bottom footer to see the earlier posts list>>>

Autodidacticism….

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They teach themselves from an early age, have many deep interests, rather than just one. And they are very persistent, even in the face of rejection…. One interesting thing that’s emerged is that so many of these highly creative people are autodidacts. They are people who teach themselves. That makes them almost misfits in the educational system that they get put into. It would be nice if educators were aware of the existence of autodidacts and the need to give them slightly different education experiences, to nurture them. SOURCE: Connecting strength and vulnerability of the creative brain.

The source quote above came from a recent PBS Newshour segment on the link between genius and what we call mental illness. I have downloaded the original article and will likely do some additional post on related areas of it in the near future but for now I want to talk about one aspect of this article which is autodidacticism.  It was only a few years ago that I discovered the term “Autodidacticism”. Here is how Wikipedia describes it:

Autodidacticism or self-education is self-directed learning that is related to but different from informal learning. In a sense, autodidacticism is “learning on your own” or “by yourself”, and an autodidact is a self-teacher. Autodidacticism is a contemplative, absorptive procession. Some autodidacts spend a great deal of time reviewing the resources of libraries and educational websites. One may become an autodidact at nearly any point in one’s life.  Many notable contributions have been made by autodidacts.

I was surprised to learn that this is actually a defined process because it fits me to a “T” even in my early years but especially after I became deaf at the age of forty. Except in college where I didn’t have the physical hours to do it, I have always been off studying something on my own.

You could say that autodidactisism is just a fancy word for “self taught “but I think it goes beyond that concept mainly in its intensity.  Some of the more famous examples of autodidacts in history are Leonardo da Vinci and Abraham Lincoln but there are thousands of other accomplished creative people who fit that label.

In my earliest years I spent hours reading books by various American authors particularly John Steinbeck, Jack London, and other of that genre. I often read before I did my homework as the latter just bored me. I think I gleaned my leftist tendencies during that period of my life and just didn’t realize it until much later in life.

I have always been a self-study even before I was deaf but especially after. Communication in classroom type activities just took too much energy that I thought was better spent just doing the learning myself. After many many hours of studying and practice I became recognized as the guy who really understood software development. I taught myself to program in several different languages and made up tools to help me in my work that ended up on many others desktops. It was not until my work got the attention of a passing vice-president in the very large corporation I worked that I officially made the switch from circuit design to software tools. It was where I actually belonged in the first place.

Being an autodidact is just who I am,  even before I know it….

The Power of Oneness….

LonerI have never really been much of a team player. I was just too much of a loner during my early years. That and an irrational sense of inferiority kept me from even attempting to belong to a team. I just didn’t take marching orders very seriously. Team speak was against my very nature.  How did that affect my life, at least in the first sixty years or so? That is what this post is mostly about.

During my early years I seemed to march to a different drummer so to speak. When someone would tell me I must do something because that is how it has always been done I tended to rebel against that action for that very reason.  I wanted to know  why I should do something and not just trust others that I must do it. “WHY” has always been a central theme of my life. I never outgrew it as most seem to do.

Being a loner was well, lonely once in a while but I decided that is just who I was. I was that contemplative kid who would spend hours on a summer night on my back looking up at the stars and dreaming what I would be doing in the future.  I was different from many kids around me and didn’t really know why. Maybe it had to do with being abandoned by my mother at the early age of nine. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I grew up without the female perspective in my life.  I just didn’t trust others after that point in time. Being a loner has many advantages as well as a few disadvantages.

Creativity is not a team event. It almost always occurs to a single individual. Design by committee (team) is usually considered a derogatory phrase meaning anything designed by a group is most likely inferior to that dreamed up by a single mind. The power of oneness thrives in the creative sphere. When at an early age, I read the biography of Einstein and found out he was a loner like me I was encouraged that maybe this condition was not as bad as I might have imagined.

My creativity is one of those areas that I don’t think would be as prominent in my life if I had been more of a team player. I am a creative person in some regards but not in others. I wish I was able to draw and paint at a creative level. There are many areas of creativity that I stumble with and that frustrates me to some degree. Writing is not one of them. It has always come very easily to me. That creativity I celebrate almost every day.

The power of oneness is enriching.

Planning And Creativity…

PlannerNow that I set my own schedule I have found that sometimes not setting a schedule is the best option. Up until my retirement I was the epitome of a planner. When I started my professional work life in 1970 I used to fill out a weekly 3 x 5 card with everything I needed to accomplish that week. When desktop computers came in the 1980s I switched to it for my weekly schedule.  I put my six-inch pile of cards in a drawer and proudly kept them for twenty years. I was a planner and proud of it.

When I retired in 2000 that habit carried over into my private life.  Part of the reason for that is all those retirement gurus out there that said if you don’t plan you will likely not do much of anything but be a couch potato. I took them to heart. But slowly over the intervening years I weaned myself off the need to schedule ahead of time what I would be doing. It has only been the last three years or so that I grudgingly gave up the weekly list. I am still a planner but not anything to the degree I was in my younger years.

One area were I have found planning just didn’t work is in my creativity. It just seems that I can’t say ahead of time that I will create this or that at this or that time.  My creativity comes in flashes instead of schedule minutes.  I seem to always get my creative work done before noon. I’m sure this has been mostly true throughout my life but I simply refused to accept that fact. Much of my creativity is now spent on producing about a thousand posts a year on my  blogs.  Sometimes I can sit and write a dozen posts in a morning. But some times nothing comes to mind. It seems I simply can’t schedule when I will be creative in this arena.

From my studies in this area I have seen this to be true for others besides me. I know there are famous writers who say they must sit and write for “x” number of hours each day.  But I kind of imagine that the most productive hours come and go without plans. What makes one person more creative than the next and what makes one period of time more creative than the next?  What makes one person an accomplished artist and another not even able to draw a stick figure? What makes one person good with words and another unable to even write an understandable note? I don’t know…