Category Archives: Courage

The Last Post: Closing One Door, Opening a Window

It’s been eight months since I started this blog and I’m very proud of the work I’ve done. But more importantly, I’ve immensely grateful for everything I’ve learned in the process. I’ve found tools to enhance my creativity and productivity. I have rekindled my passion for writing. I’ve developed a routine that harnesses my imagination. And because of that, I’m dedicating myself to living in a way that best serves my creative goals.

What does that mean? It means that there may come a day where the right company offers me the right position behind a desk with hours that range from 9 to 5. And when I say “right” I mean a company that produces the content I wish to produce and a position that will allow me to grow and build with a team of storytellers. But for today, right now, I’m going to strive to live and work outside of a cubicle, outside of the 9 to 5.

To achieve that I must put on my “indie” writing hat, or should I say “hoodie” and get to work. So I won’t have much time for Creatives Culture anymore. Should you come across this posting many moons after its original publishing, I highly recommend reading two works that changed my life. First check out a commencement speech by J.C. Herz and then check out The Accidental Creative. Between those two you will find everything you need to survive in corporate America and/or be a creative individual.

If you are looking for me, you can find me on Twitter @dubysquared to see what’s engaging me, on Tumblr at wandaweithers.tumblr.com to see what is inspiring me or see what I’m writing at writtenbywanda.com–my online portfolio. I leave you with the famed 2005 Standford Commencement speech by Steve Jobs. Rest in Peace.

Wanda
Living with no plan b!

Half-Time is Over: A Creatives Cultures Playbook for My Career

This is my first post in what seems like forever. I took a hiatus to focus on getting some ideas from my mind to paper. During that time I learned a lot about my creative process (as trite as that sounds), what triggers my imagination and habits that dampen it.

Writer's break at Barnes & Nobles, Town & Country Center.

But now my summer of leisurely reading and writing is over. My savings has been depleted. It’s time to get back to work. So I’m headed to Los Angeles, very much in the same manner I ventured off to New York City after college–without a job and without a plan b.

I know I want to work in scripted dramatic television and feature films. That is certain. What I don’t know is what position will be best for me at this point in my life and career. Do I try my hand as a freelance writer? Or do I get back on the corporate ladder as a development assistant? Or is there a hybrid position that will allow me to have one foot in the cubicle and the other in the coffee shop?

No matter where I end up playing the game again, I have to implement a new game plan–built on everything I’ve learned this summer. I can not go back to career as usual. I have to define and live out what it means to be the most consistent and productive creative individual no matter where I find employment.

Here are a few plays I’ve got to institute in the next chapter of my career. Feel free to borrow any that can help you in your cubicle or whatever corporate field you play on.

TAKE TIME ON THE SIDELINES It may seem counterproductive to approach re-entering the workforce by setting aside down time. Isn’t the way to success spending every waking moment dedicated to the job? Well, that could make me productive, but I wouldn’t be at my mental best. Creativity isn’t a wishing star that comes whenever it wants. It’s just that special. But not that random.

Like many people, I get creative when my conscious mind is at rest and my sub-conscious mind has a chance to peek her head out. So by purposely giving my conscious mind scheduled time outs, I allow my sub-conscious (aka my sub) mind to be active with ideas I can capture.

Practically, what does this mean? It means I’ll have to schedule breaks in my day to walk away from my desk and my computer. Give my mind a break and a chance to be brilliant. It means that instead of staring at a question or problem for hours. I’ll write my challenge down and do something mindless like wash dishes, listen to a favorite playlist or people watch.

Most senior executives have the luxury of taking mental breaks during the day. My new position may not allow it so easily. But I’ll have to find a way to sit on the sidelines for a breather should I end up in a cubicle again. I’ll sneak them if I have to. The truth is, if I want to stand out as a creative executive, I will have to.

HUDDLE AFTER EACH PLAY Remember when your parents or teachers used to ask you a million questions after you read a book or went on a field trip? It was annoying but it was an exercise in good thinking. In John Maxwell’s “Thinking For a Change“, he highlights “reflective thinking” as a habit of exceptional leaders. (Click the link for the other eleven habits.)

Sometimes we let brilliance pass us by because we are too busy to take time to analyze our daily experiences. We rush through meetings, finish one article–start another, watch a film classic without taking the time to figure out what we liked, disliked, what inspired us, infuriated us, etc.

I’ve found myself coming up with a slew of wonderful commentary this summer when I take the time to reflective on an experience. After a coffee date, a church service, my favorite television show–I take a few moments to jot my initial thoughts down in my notebook. I never intend to write a lot, but I always do.

And then comes the best part. Well, not right away. But some time in the future, in the middle of a conversation with someone, I pull a comment from my reflective thinking and sound wonderfully profound and intellectual. My comments are met with, “Wow! I never thought of that.” or “That is a really good point.”

This reservoir of insight will come in handy at department meetings or at awkward business cocktail parties. Not only will it brand me as a person of value on my team, it will also set me a part from my peers.

STAY WITH THE RIGHT TEAMMATES I’m a likeable person. I have a silly spirit that makes my conversations animated, whether I know you or not. I’m happy to make friends with almost everyone. But I will be making a special effort to find co-workers who place a premium on protecting and nourishing their creativity.

The funny part is that I knew individuals at past positions who did just that. They read a book during lunch. They took a stroll around the block after a meeting. These were often the same people that other executives went to review a draft of a power point presentation or ask to sit in on a brainstorm. I never put their relaxing work habits together with their exceptional performance.

It’s always good to have kindred spirits around you in any environment. At your job it’s particularly important to align yourself with people who will encourage your ambitions and push you to succeed. I usually find these persons at my church or in my family. But this go round, I’m going to look for them on the job.

Stay tuned for my journey to find employment in Los Angeles. I’ll be sure to share any adventures in my quest to be a stellar creative and a rising executive. If you have any, feel free to share them too.

Creative Challenge: Bill Cosby and Sandman Simms showed us the way

The majority of books that profess to teach you how to increase your creativity, are all preaching the same sermon: New and different ideas are the result of new and different thinking. It all begins in the mind.

Imagine your mind is a car driving down a road. After time, because age, comfort or sheer laziness, we tend to travel down the same roads. Those individuals that we admire as being inventive and innovative intentionally steer their cars down different roads, paths not usually taken or even apparent.

It’s a skill that anyone can learn. Sure some people have a natural gift for it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t re-train your mind to navigate through the uncharted territory of your imagination or environment. So where to begin?

With small, simple but entertaining and engaging tasks, start taking your mind down a different road. Give yourself permission to do a familiar task in an unfamiliar way. Then, allow yourself to experience people, places and things that are completely new to you. These two actions will build your creative muscle.

The goal is that over time your mind will naturally bring you ideas, thoughts, solutions and perspectives that are increasingly original and alternate to the norm because it’s in the habit–and quite comfortable and confident–of thinking outside the norm.

Does this really work? Is this the secret behind folks like Steve Jobs and the like? Will come up with awesome ideas in meetings and solve problems in new and amazing ways? Well, there is only one way to find out.

Of course, I’ll share my adventures and please feel free to share yours. Every new challenge and any follow-ups will be a post first, but then archived on the Creative Challenges page. In case you forgot how good a healthy artistic challenge can be, here is Bill Cosby and Sandman Simms to remind you. Challenge!