How to Keep Going

image by Austin Kleon

image by Austin Kleon

I really appreciated this talk by Austin Kleon. Not only does it inspire and encourage any artist who struggles with endurance and purpose, it's also pretty poignant to life - as all good art should be. 

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?" How we answer this question is not only how we live our lives, it's our art.

But what I like most about the mindset of creativity within a Groundhog Day world is the insulation of pretending like there is no tomorrow. That there's no chance of success nor is there chance of failure, "there's just the day and what you can do with it." 

Damn. That's good.

I was also challenged by number three, "forget the noun, do the verb." 

Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without doing the work. Forget about being a writer . . . 'follow the impulse to write.' Because if you let go of the thing you are trying to be . . . and you focus on the actual work you need to be doing . . . it will take you some place further and far more interesting. 

But really, the whole thing is pretty fantastic.

Here's a list of his 10 Ways to Keep Going


"Everything you need to make extraordinary work can be found in your ordinary life. You just have to pay attention to it."

Here's a similarly inspiring chart, Successful VS Unsuccessful people, and the habits that define them.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  Embracing hardships 

on Why we Create : by Salomon Ligthelm

In our home, the discussion of why we create, why we pursue the arts, and if the intentional, and often unintentional, consequences are worth it. 

This video didn’t answer all our questions, but it helped. And inspired. 

Thank you John Blanchard for sending it our way! 

“It’s not about you, it’s not about all your talents because all those things create this sort of pseudo reality where you find all your validation in what you do. And if you surrender yourself to it then those things don’t become as important and you find your creativity again.

Creativity  is for others. It’s not to serve yourself. It’s for others” 


You can watch more of Salomon Ligthelm's work here.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  On Creativity  Short Films

Open Thoughts : This is where I am


For the past few days, even weeks, I've been in a sort of rut with my writing and general creativity. Specifically, I've been wrestling with two larger thoughts - one on family and the other on guns, and after several hours spent on both, I got nothing. Every time I look at whatever I wrote the night before, I hate it, delete it, and start all over.

And this is more than just a bit discouraging. 

How is this so hard? Why am I unable to think or articulate simple thoughts? Why does it all seem so flimsy and shallow?

I don't know, but over the past several days, I've begun to wonder if I should just give up on writing and blogging and pursuing this crazy idea that I might some day be considered a legitimate author. Because what's the point?

Good writers should be able to write, daily, and produce material worth reading. Good writers shouldn't misspell or misuse words and they shouldn't struggle so damn much to call simple ideas  to a page, it should just happen, with the ease of routine, because they're good writers and that's what good writers do. 

I'm not sure when this slippery beast of doubt crept in, but like a silverback gorilla who's bathed in butter and just slipped through an open attic window, this sucker is rather difficult to get a hold of and shove out the door. 

So instead of writing, I watched this:

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future day in and day out. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality.

I'm not sure about you, but I found this short talk somewhat encouraging but also fantastically terrifying because what she doesn't acknowledge is the absolute true possibility that although I'm working hard, I'm doing it all wrong. 

Because even though I believe that "the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with {my} effort" that doesn't mean all and every piece of work and drop of sweat is growing and leading me in the right direction. And my deepest fear, I guess, is this: what if it's not?

I don't know.

I'm sure there are little anecdotes of "just try your best and it will all work out," or "it's okay to fail because that's where you learn and grow" and all that other bullshit we say to ourselves to make us feel better and to keep our spirits high, but I'm kinda tired of such empty talk and hollow promises. Because they're exactly that, hollow promises. 

So what now?

I don't know.

Therefore, like Angela Duckworth, that's where I'm going to end my thoughts because that's where I'm at. And I'm not okay with that. 

Here's to tomorrow.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Open Thoughts  :  On Creativity



How to be Creative

If you look past the narrators voice, this video is actually really inspiring.

There is a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't. It is not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write.

Resistance is what stands between the life we live and our unlived life - between what we are and what we want to become. Resistance is to be considered evil. Yet, it can be helpful. It points us to our true calling, it can be felt when we fear starting a creative project. This fear means it is something that we need to do, something that we have a deep love for. . . the more resistance you feel towards a project, the more satisfaction you will have when you finish it.

We can beat resistance by how we conduct our creative projects. In short, the amateur waits for inspiration. The professional knows that it will come after he starts." The professional acts in the face of fear. 

Then, at some point unexpected, the muse will come, and we'll be able to catch it. 



For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  On Living



The Creative Mind

I'm not a big fan of the word "success" because its connotations tend to deal with money and fame, which seem to be incomplete determiners of success. So, instead of "successful," creative - or perhaps even content - is a better fit. The descriptors still falling neatly into place. 

: Edit - 6/22/17 :

A good friend of mine, Eric Trauger, mentioned two additional words: progressive (as in progress - the moving advance or development toward a better, more complete, or more modern condition) and earnest.

I like these additions because they broaden the range a bit, especially earnest. Earnest, serious in intention, purpose, or effort - sincerely zealous - or, showing depth and sincerity of feeling, to me, carries more intentionality than the others. It switches the order.

If someone reads books, forgives, collaborates, etc, than they are creative, content, or progressive; they are are the effects of, not the cause. Living an earnest life, however, seems a more conscious decision - it is the cause, not the effect. 

All this, though, and perhaps most importantly, points to the idea that a "successful" life - a life marked by creativity, progress, and earnest living - is fully intentional, not accidental. It is a daily decision, a daily battle, to live with purpose and conviction, and to live outside of redundancy and monotony.  

To watch TV, or read. To encourage rather than criticize. To be thankful, not entitled. Strangely, it seems, life can be defined by these simple things. Which is encouraging, I think, and a bit terrifying. 


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Inspiration  :  Creativity



Game Night : A New Tradition, Much Like the Old

Board games have been around for a long time. According to, "Probably the first board games were scratched into dirt and played with stones or fruit pits for pieces." Some of the earlier board games that we know of come from Pre-dynastic Egypt called Senet - a modern backgammon which was also played in ancient Iran.

Growing up in the 80's and 90's the games we played were pretty common.

In my 20's and early 30's, we played:

And now it's time to add one more to the repertoire: Game Night in a Can

  • GNIAC is a party game filled with 30 original challenges. Great for friends, families, co-workers, and humans of all ages who love to LAUGH.
  • Create mythical animals, rewrite a national anthem, choreograph a new dance move...use your imagination for fame and glory. 
  • When you randomly pull 7 game cards each night, you're in for over 3 MILLION VARIATIONS of game play.