The Autopilot of Life

College clocks always take forever during the last ten minutes of the class.

College clocks always take forever during the last ten minutes of the class.

It’s the third week of my senior year at college.

Everyone has settled in by the third week of college. We all know just how tough our professors are in each class, and most of us can remember where we’re supposed to be at a class, job, or internship. But! That’s just the time when the rut of the semester starts to sink in.

Remember how every semester seems to breeze past once you’re at the end of it? Week three is when that running-on-autopilot feeling starts to sink in. Sure, you think it’s practically the start of the semester, but that’s the trap! It’s practically the beginning, but it’s not really, and you’ll spend a few weeks in mindless appreciation of this thought before it’s the middle of the semester, and then it’s practically the middle right up until it’s practically the end!

The only answer is to live in each week while remaining alert to your own collegiate mortality. Soon another semester will have slipped through your fingers, leaving you another day older, but with little to show for it! The only solution: you need to shake things up right now.

Volunteer for something! Research something to impress a teacher! Pile on a side project, like making a movie, playing a little tennis, working out, or running a blog! Carpe that diem!

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How To Pick Your Pseudonym

Pictured: a pseudonym

JK! It’s Rowling.

One of my projects this summer was to self-publish three old novels I have lying around. They’re the sort that I consider good enough to enjoy, but not good enough that my hopefully ever-improving writing style should be associated with them. On top of that, they’re all more or less in the high fantasy genre, one that I hope to avoid in the future. The solution, naturally, is to put them up as ebooks under a pseudonym. However, that choice involves the difficult task of picking a fake name for myself.

Here’s a list of the considerations that I took into account when deciding on my very own pseudonym. Continue reading

Why You’re Creative: Stealing

Or ripping it up. Either works.

Carry on ripping off this poster

One quote gets attributed to Oscar Wilde, TS Eliot, and Pablo Picasso, but probably came from neither. Which is ironic, because the quote is “Good artists borrow; great artists steal.” Everyone learns by copying others, from screenwriters to painters to babies learning how to speak for the first time. And since someone else has already explored the history behind stealing and remixing, I’ll present it to you in lieu of my own words.

 

Why You’re Creative: Deadlines

from morguefile.com

Would the great pyramids ever have been finished without deadlines? Or slave labor? Okay, this isn’t the best example

Procrastination helps keep you creative, but its opposite, the deadly hovering deadline, can do the same. Like the Sword Of Damocles, a seemingly bad threat, wielded properly, can drive you toward your goal. Continue reading

Why You’re Creative: Procrastination

without water, I guess. irrelevant.

Procrastination gives you an oasis.

No, I’m not saying procrastination is bad. I’m saying it helps you become more creative.

That’s right, we finally have a reason why you are more creative already! Well, if you procrastinate in the right way, at least. Here’s how procrastinating can help you become a more creative individual, and why it needs to be a certain type of procrastination.

Continue reading

Why You’re Creative: Deep Thinking

Unless you're Jack Handy

You have to have white hair to have deep thoughts.

As I mentioned earlier, the problems that hold people back from creativity are all fairly mundane. It’s nothing special. ‘Deep thinking’ is one of those mundane things that can really help you be creative. It refers to consciously focusing on your inner thoughts, as opposed to breezing past them in focus on the next task before you, such as eating that poptart or organizing those magnets.

Bogger Julie McCutchen explains this concept as deep listening, in a guest post about enhancing writing by accessing intuition:

One of the keys to unlocking intuition is deep listening. There are two components of this complete approach:
Outer listening involves listening to the world around you with curiosity about life, people and relationships …
Inner listening requires turning your focus inwards to what is going on deep inside you.
Take a few moments before you write to listen deeply.

Well, duh, you may say. It seems simple, right? But it can have genuinely useful results. It’s a truism because it helps. Truisms are cliched by definition, and can be a problem among advice websites. But with a little deep thought, you can get past the obvious state of a cliche and wheedle your path down to the truth beneath. Reshape it, and you’ve become a true creative.

 

Why You’re Creative: Be a Sports Commentator

sports to commentate on

“The ball appears to have stopped directly in front of the pins. There’s no movement at all. Still nothing. Nothing. Nothing… hey, wait a second. Is this a still? It’s a still shot! What’s with this screen?!”

To be creative, you need to emulate the sports commentator. Why? Here’s Gene Perret, a comedy writer since the 1960s, on the subject:

“I’ve always been fascinated in watching sports on television at how sharp-eyed some of the commentators are. When I watch bowling, I just see the pins “explode.” The commentator, though, tells you exactly where each pin went. When I watch diving, I don’t know how many turns and spins that diver took. My eye can’t follow it. But the commentators know.

It’s not that their eyes are sharper and quicker; it’s just that they know what to look for, how to look for it, and where to look. They’re tuned in to that sport.”

Gene was talking about the importance of tuning in to comedy in order to write it, but the same principle applies to creativity in general. After all, comedy is about creativity: you need to catch the audience off-guard in order to surprise them into laughing, and unexpected connections are the mainstay of creativity.  Don’t worry about your quality at first, because it’ll be terrible. But the more you focus on making connections, the better you’ll get at it.