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Space Cadet

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About Space Cadet

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    You have been warned.
  • Birthday 04/23/1982

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    Canada
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    Female
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    zarblatz
  1. Hey, nice to know someone has been dusting around here...
  2. Now emotional causes for creative blocks, when you know you have everything you need, are a whole different ballgame. I struggle with anxiety more than anything myself and I'm all ears for suggestions for dealing with that one. I have heard it said that creative types are extra prone to anxiety because it's easy for them to imagine the worst-case scenarios very vividly. This can make them unconsciously avoid tasks that remind them of those scenarios leading to procrastination. I guess the best thing is to ask yourself how likely any scenario you are imagining is, and to set it aside until later. Or try visualizing yourself succeeding instead. Try practicing deep breathing or meditation to clear and focus your mind. Get a glass of water. Talk to a friend about your fears or try writing them down so they're out of your head. Go for a walk-movement helps. Keep yourself grounded by reminding yourself about other things in your life you're grateful for. Perfectionism can lead to blocks and procrastination because no one short of a master is going to be perfect so it's an impossible standard to hold yourself to. I try to remind myself that the best way to get better is to keep practising. Negative self-talk is a big creativity killer. If you keep unconsciously telling yourself that every idea is stupid or corny and then give up on them, then you're not going to be able to refine any of your ideas out of their corny phase. Sometimes stupid ideas lead to the biggest leaps in creativity and every great new idea started out stupid because no one had proven that it could be good yet. Everyone has that little voice in their head telling them that they're not good enough. Learning to notice when it is saying negative things and either confront it or set what it is saying aside is a skill that takes practice. I think one of the biggest reasons creative types are somewhat prone to substance abuse is that some of the substances can shut that little voice up for a while and let them get out of their own way. My personal opinion is that you're much better off in the long term learning how to recognize and shut that voice up on your own since sobriety can give you a lot more control over your ideas. I have heard it said and noticed myself that the critical mindset is the opposite of the creative one. When you're being creative, you need to be open to all sorts of possibilities and trying things out, while criticism- even positive criticism- looks at details and measures their worth. Criticism is fine once a work is mostly done, but until that time, it will only get in your way, leading to writer's block. So the biggest thing for me when I'm not dealing with structural blocks, is to try to pay attention to what is going on in the back of my mind and to try to identify some of the ways I might be emotionally sabotaging myself. Anyway, that's what I've got. I warned you it was long winded. ;)
  3. Refining: Now that your idea is all down on paper, you can go back and check your work for a second or third draft. Try to be constructive with your criticism though- when something isn't working ask yourself how you can make it better. Finalizing: Remember that creative work is never finished, only abandoned. You will never get it perfect and perfectionism is the best way to keep yourself from ever finishing anything. Bring it to a state you are happy with and then let it go. You are going to notice all of the flaws. They probably aren't obvious to anyone else, so make peace with them. Just don't be George Lucas about it.
  4. Research This is the phase where you go through your to do list and collect what you need to start working. Gather the information you need. Make sure you have the tools you need. Go back through your notes and make sure you have any notes or inspiration pieces you need available. This is also a good time to do some creative exercises like writing with a timer so that your brain will be ready to go. Action This is the part where you finally get to sit down and do the thing. Remember that for writing this is a first draft, so the point is to get the body of your work down on paper as quickly as possible without any worrying about how it looks. Criticism isn't useful here. You should be fleshing out the outline you wrote earlier, based on the content from your brainstorming sessions, so you should have lots of pages covered in things to keep you from worrying about the blank page in front of you. That said, don't get too stuck on the exact details of the outline and notes, since sometimes fresh creative decisions can emerge at this point and change the shape of what you're working on. If you are getting stuck here, then this is the point where creative block busting tips can come in handy. First I would say review your output from the earlier stages, in case you missed something or you don't have enough content to work with yet. If you are really getting hung up on something, then take a break and give your mind a rest. Go for a walk- they help your brain process what you're working on. Get a glass of water. Set a 20 minute timer and keep going. If you're getting distracted by intrusive thoughts, try writing them down and setting them aside for now. Try changing your medium- sometimes pen and paper is better for thinking than a computer. Or maybe vice versa. Get a crayon if you have to. If you're having trouble making creative decisions, review your objective and ask how the decision is related to the objective. Or sometimes work won't flow because the shape of the piece wants to be different from the shape you are trying to force on it. Make sure you take care of yourself. Sleep and food can be important for your brain function. If you are having trouble with motivation, ask a friend if they will hold you accountable for your work. If you're getting hung up on emotional causes for your block, then maybe pay attention to your emotional state and talk to a friend about it.
  5. Focusing and Organizing: This is the phase where you pick out your favourite ideas and decide how you are going to use them. You want to come out of this stage with a primary objective or thesis statement, a general outline for what you want to do, a specific outline of the work you want to do and the rules you want to work within, and a "to do" list of the next steps you will need to take to be ready to start writing or creating. This is the first phase where you can start asking critical questions about what you are working on so that you can make creative choices about how to spend your time. If you want to fill out the middle of an album, maybe make a list of what sort of songs you want in the middle and decide that one should be slow, one should be happy, and one should be loud, or something like that. Pick your topic ideas that go with those ideas and then start making an outline for the individual songs. If you are working on an assignment, look up what the rules for that assignment are and decide how your ideas will fit. You might say I want to write a song in iambic pentameter about my roommate's cat. That's your objective. It needs to be specific. Then you might say I want it to be fast and silly and about 3 minutes long. I want it to have three verses for a beginning, middle and end because that's how many ideas I have for verses, and I want a chorus and bridge. Now you have a skeleton of an outline. Now what should happen in those three verses? Now you have a specific outline of what you need to write. Use bullet points in this phase so you don't get bogged down by details. Now you need to ask yourself what you need so that you can start working, and what you need to do next. This creates your todo list. So in this case you might need to take some pictures of the cat to use as a reference. You might want to make a list about how the cat makes you feel. You might need to look up what iambic pentameter is, how it works, and some examples of how it has been used. With the outline and objective in place, you shouldn't need to sit in front of a blank page wondering what to do, because you already figured that out, and a todo list should keep you moving by providing specific tasks to do next. (For the record, for essays that need a thesis statement, I find it's best to write a general objective for the paper and a specific thesis statement once it's pretty much done and I know what I'm saying, but that's me.)
  6. Brainstorming: This is the famous drawing on your napkin phase where you collect all of your ideas without judgement. You could keep notebooks of whatever thoughts of turns of phrase go through your head, collect bits of inspiration as they come up and outlines for what you want to do with them, or anything that will give you something to draw on. You want to collect whatever possible information might be useful in its raw form. You'll use this information later to combat blank page syndrome. I find it can be useful when I am refining a specific idea to scribble notes on bits of junk mail so that I don't have to deal with an empty page. Or if you are trying to put a feeling into words, maybe draw a picture of how you feel or what you're thinking about in the middle of the page and write your words around it. Even if you know the words are wrong at least it will give you something to start with. Don't be afraid to use bullet points and word salad if you need to. Maybe you have an idea you really like. Try looking at is frojm different angles and write down any thoughts that pop in to your head about it. Ask yourself questions like what would happen if I had to write ten different variations of this idea. What would happen if I had to do this idea in the style of five of my favourite artists? What sort of ideas would I get if I combined this idea with a very different one? What would happen if I wrote this from the perspective of the girlfriend instead of the boyfriend? What is an element I can use to contrast with this idea? In songs, what if I wrote this sad song to be really fast? Or sound really silly? There is a TV writer named Javi who talks about using a device he calls a stupid stick. In a writers' room when everyone is brainstorming, the person holding the stupid stick is completely immune from criticism of any kind. This lets everyone say any ridiculous thing that comes to mind without fear that someone will say their idea is stupid. I think it's a good idea to have a talisman of some sort to remind you not to criticize yourself at this stage, if you need one. This phase is where your ideas have their freest form possible, so experiment and pull things apart as much as you can and see what new ideas come of of them.
  7. Prepare: By which I mean learn, practice, explore, reflect, and get inspired. This is the phase where you collect what you need and get yourself ready to work. When I studied graphic design I had a teacher who got really annoyed at our class and marched us all down to the library in the middle of class. She said the work you are doing isn't any good because you don't know anything about design yet. You're just babies and you need to see what is out there before you can hope to add anything. Professional designers will take the time to look through design magazines and get inspired before they start any project. So our whole class that day consisted of going through magazines and talking about the interesting things we found. And my brain has never worked the same way since. If you want to build a house, you're going to need to know carpentry, electrical and plumbing skills, or find someone who can do them for you. You are going to need to know what type of house you want to build, what style you want it built in, what materials you are going to need, and you are going to need blueprints drawn up to work from. You are going to need land to build it on, permits so you can build, and funding so you can buy the things you need. For writing songs try reading poetry, some old some new. Listen to lots of different types of music and study what makes them work. Maybe look up some artists who set existing poetry to music like Handel or Loreena McKennit to see how they do it. Learn about rhythm and meter and alliteration and anything else that will improve your words. Read books to build up your vocabulary. This is the phase where writing exercises are very helpful because they build brain connections and get creative juices flowing. That line I used about creativity starting with what you know? The more you know, and the more thoroughly you have explored what you know, the more you have to draw on in the next phases. Usually when I am having trouble coming up with ideas it is because I didn't do enough prep work.
  8. For mechanical causes, if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that creativity abhors a vacuum. A blank page really can trip you up because if you don't do your prep work, you won't have anything to fill that page with. I really, truly believe that creativity is not creating something out of nothing but looking at what you already know in a way that will transform it into something that seems new. Most of the time when I get stuck and it isn't because of anxiety, I find it is because I forgot to go through the steps that I needed to, and instead I am trying to brainstorm a final draft while proofreading and editing it all at the same time before I even decided what I want to do. Any half-idea I have will die on the page in front of me from too much self-criticism and a lack of anything to draw on for the second half of that idea. Or I will be trying to write two things at once without realising it and the ideas will conflict too much, so I need to take a moment to stop and ask myself what I am really trying to say. Yes, there are times when something great will just flow out of you fully formed, but even then you are going to at least check it for typos later. (And I honestly believe when it does happen that it's because all of the earlier steps were happening subconsciously.) Most of the time nothing is going to spontaneously flow out of you, and you are going to have to go through the conscious steps to build it. (For the record, you may have heard all of these in essay writing class at school and are rolling your eyes at me because you really couldn't stand that teacher and it all seemed dumb when she taught it. But I know I forget the steps more often than not and I'm really writing this to remind myself because all these years later and they're still important for keeping me from getting stuck in whatever creative pursuit I'm working on.) The general order as I see it: -Prepare -Brainstorm -Focus -Research -Action -Refine -Finalize Now I'd like to point out something about that list. The action is the fifth step out of seven. I usually want to just sit down and start writing, but that's when the blank page usually gets me. I'm trying to write and brainstorm at the same time and then my ideas just aren't good enough for me because they're brainstorm-level ideas and I haven't fleshed them out yet or given them any structure. There are times I will go through the first four steps in my head without writing them on paper, but they always have to happen first. Also, there are two specific zones in this list for self-criticism: Focusing and Refining. Outside of those two zones criticism will kill your ideas before they have formed yet, so if you're tempted to call anything you write cheesy before it's time to do that, just don't. Most of the best ideas started out half-formed and totally cheesy so don't be afraid to own your cheesiness. You refine it once all of the other work in the first five steps is finished, and not before.
  9. I wasn't kidding when I said this was turning into an essay. :uhoh: I'm still writing it because it's what I need to hear right now, but it's going to be long...
  10. Ah, writer's block my old friend... :tongue: Actually, I have come to object to the term writer's block a little bit because it's more like a symptom than a cause. (And the term can cause a lot of the anxiety that can cause writer's block. Fear of fear will make you afraid...) It gets applied to a whole category of things that hold you back, and the key to getting past them is to first figure out which ones you are dealing with. My talents are more for prose than poetry, but I have found through studying a lot of different creative fields that the various reasons behind creative block tend to be somewhat universal (for me, at least). The main causes I can think of off the top of my head are anxiety, perfectionism, negativity, lack of preparation, lack of self-care, the need for flow, lack of clear objectives, and trying to do too many things at once. To broadly break it down, there are what I will call mechanical causes, where you don't have something you need, and emotional or cognitive causes, where you (supposedly) have what you need, but something inside you is holding you back from letting it out. ...Aaand this is turning into a giant essay, so maybe I'll stop there for now.
  11. Space Cadet

    bored

    Sure is quiet around here... It's January, life got quiet, people had their fill of family and friends over the holidays so they don't need to spend so much time on facebook, no one wants to do stuff outside in the cold so they end up on the internet... I just got nostalgic and missed people.
  12. There's always one thread like this, isn't there? Haha. (I'm almost 10! :stunned:)
  13. What if... John Lennon showed up right here right now and asked what the music world had been up to for the last 30+ years? What songs would you tell him to listen to? What might catch his attention? What might impress him? What is new(ish) that you think he might just plain like? Has anything lived up to his legacy? I thought of this one about a month ago, and it has been burning a hole in my brain ever since. I myself just don't know enough about his preferences to have more than some vague guesses, and the real life people I ask have come up blank. Are there any Beatles fans in the house who could help me out?
  14. A couple of thoughts...since I need to leave them somewhere... Regardless of gossip, now that I have been forced to think of it, it really scares me just how alike Chris' and Jennifer's (outward, public) personalities are. It's almost like they're two different versions of the same person in some ways... Also, fair warning for you younger folks. Don't bother with big crushes on significantly older celebrities than you. Eventually they always end up with a pretty blonde who is significantly younger than you. *cough David Tennant cough* :tongue:
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