Tag Archives: creativity

Refueling your Creative Tank

14 Apr

You knew it had to happen sometime–I’ve run out of gas. Creatively, that is. It happens to everyone; where you hit a limit on how much you can concentrate on. Which is a problem… if that’s your job.

In real life, I’m an instructional designer, which is a nice term for “corporate teacher.” Just like regular teachers, that can still mean a wide variety of jobs; after all, a Spanish teacher and the ROTC instructor have different roles and different schedules. In my case, that means I’m building eLearning modules, the much derided, much confided role of online education.

So my job is to make a lecture exciting; this is a lot easier in person. Your great lecturers can make a story come alive with simple tricks and nonsense. But that’s a lot harder to do when you’re told, “Don’t move around much and please don’t move your hands.” So it’s up to me to make their talk about understanding taxes regarding corporations that fall under a 403(b) rule exciting.


BTW, even if the professor moves their hands around and moves around the room, it doesn’t help. All it really does is remove real estate that I get to do my magic. Text and graphics appearing on screen, adding videos, neat images… all of which is designed to keep your attention because the modern mind can’t focus for more than 7 seconds on any given image.

If you’re ever watching a cheaply developed television program, I always play a fun game. Count the number of seconds before the camera has to shift–it’s never more than seven seconds–this is a lesson that many producers have already learned. Better developed programs add more tricks with graphics and having the camera or presenter move… all of which happens in less than 7 seconds. Watching a football game, there is 90 seconds between plays; so they have cameras checking the crowd, checking the sidelines, commentators up in the booth, images of players and stats. All of which is to keep your attention while the quarterback is trying to figure out what to do. Even the cameras during the play have the overhead and side views just to keep things exciting.

So that takes a lot of effort when you’re the only one doing it. But hey, that’s the job I signed up for, and am glad to have it. However, it’s good to have variation. So right now, I’m helping another project that is much easier, because it’s just adapting a PowerPoint to another format. I frequently like to shift between multiple projects, so that when I can’t figure out how to make Mass v. EPA exciting on the third repetition, I can turn to explaining the 13th Amendment,

I’m also taking a vacation next week… which can’t hurt. One of the major obstacles to working from home has been–nothing changes. Sure, you can say that about a commute as well, but I go from my bed to the computer while everyone in the house is still trying to get their day started. When I’m done with work, I shut down the computer and… I’m still here. I’ve tried working from different locations, which helps occasionally, but in the end… you just miss your two screen flexibility and it makes it harder to know what you need to do.

I’m also writing a book, which means that any creative thought I have left over, goes into that. It’s hard to get on with that project when the limited amount of creativity goes into something else. I’m out of blog posts, so it’s gonna be hard the next couple of days to come up with daily posts, but I’ll try.

Have you ever been in this situation? What were your techniques for getting you out of the creative slump? Let me know in the comments below! If you want to inspire me, buy one my books! However, if $1.99 is too much to pay for inspiration, go ahead and download one of my stories for free.

Swedish Fish Sushi

24 Oct

Talking about candy no kid wants for Halloween, someone mentioned Swedish Fish, so this segued into a joke about “Swedish Fish sushi.” However, if Rule 34 teaches us nothing, it’s if you can think of it, someone on the internet has made it. Oi mekheye.

Yes, as the picture above indicates, there is a recipe for Swedish fish sushi, and I have to admit, it looks really good! Swedish Fish on top of Rice Krispies and wrapped by Fruit by the Foot. Although I’m not a big fan of the gummy candies in general, having it cut by the more appealing Rice Krispie treats sounds really worth trying.

Of course, that’s not why I brought this up – it’s the sheer absurdity of it that caught my attention. I could go in many directions from here, but let me think about the infinite creativity of man. It’s very easy to say that “there’s nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), or that there’s only ever four types of stories, but I’m pleased to see that there’s infinity diversity in infinite combinations. (Star Trek)

Sure, sushi and Swedish fish are not particularly new concepts, but combining them in a new way is really exciting. You shouldn’t get discouraged because your story is one of many military sci-fi space opera stories (which it is). What can you bring to the table? What about your voice makes the story exciting?

What I’ve discovered is that I enjoy combining sci-fi and humor. Since I enjoy universes where “things fall apart,” it seems natural that I like goofy situations to occur, because if it can go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment (Murphy’s Law). So my universes tend to be goofy places and I have a lot of fun with them.

Easy example: names. No matter how wacky the name you give a character, I can guarantee, someone has topped you. For example, in Defending Our Sacred Honor, I named a character Megalicious Jones – or Meg for short. Ridiculous? Sure. On the other hand, a hundred years ago in Iowa, there was someone legally named “Though I Walk Through the Valley of Death, I Shall Fear No Evil Smith.” I always wonder what his nickname was. Ship names are great, because non-Western navies have no compulsion after naming a ship “The 39th People’s Congress.” You can never go TOO far and pass reality.

What’s a wacky combination you can’t believe exists? What an unusual sub-sub-subgenre you find appealing (or disgusting)? Let me know in the comments below!

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