How to Move Your Career or Project Forward Right Now

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Greetings, Fellow Creatives! Today’s episode of the podcast is a bit of a clip show, but I think it will be very useful to longtime listeners as well as anyone new to Coffee with Creatives.

As many of you may know, I try to make a point of asking guests on Coffee with Creatives for actionable advice for anyone who is just starting out, or perhaps feeling stuck with any one project or in the career, or who is just generally on the look out for practices and tactics that might help them create and keep on creating.

That’s the goal of the show at large, and in this episode you’ll hear from some of my more popular guests in terms of:

  • One piece of advice they would offer to help you generate and realize your vision,
  • Getting your work made and/or seen,
  • Moving through fear,
  • The benefits of mindfulness,
  • And other important methods that go hand-in-hand with creating professionally.

If you enjoy this episode, here’s the full list — in order — of guests whose longer interviews are excerpted. I’ll be back in a few weeks with a new full-length interview.

Please consider sharing this episode on Twitter or Facebook if you get something out of it.

As reminders, you can also subscribe to Coffee with Creatives on iTunes and/or support the podcast on Patreon.

The Power of Habit

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I don’t know that I have much to say, yet, today. Today might be one of those days where the real value lies in showing up.

I’ve now posted here for 41 straight days. Not bad.

This streak is a testament to the power of habit, or a habit smartly chosen. I love to write. I love sharing what I’ve written (most of the time). It’s still hard to get out of bed early, most days, but it’s not hard to prioritize a sit-down for some writing and reflection.

I think that’s the trick of it.

First, we choose a habit we want to build, out of sincere desire. Then we set a goal that not only depends on daily commitment, but is at once manageable (technically I could write and publish a single word, and keep the streak alive) and aspirant (my original goal of thirty straight days took some extra work to hit).

Then it becomes about execution. Sitting down and doing it. If it helps, I’ve been laying down, with a blanket over me and dog and cat interns. I’m cozy.

So much daily stress has been muted by this exercise, as well. No matter what happens today — unless it’s something truly awful — I can at least say that I have written and have been read. Sometimes, you sweet gentle creatures even comment on what I’ve said on a given day.

It can be this simple. It feels important, here and now, to be reminded of that.


profpic_squareMy name is Michael. I am a Writer and Filmmaker 
of hopeful stories for complex people. Lately, I have been sharing some reflections and stories every morning. Once per month, I send a special note to those on my email list. They get exclusive stories and advanced (sometimes free) access to my work. You can join this exclusive group here. Thanks for reading.

 

Productivity Tips for Anyone Prone to Overwhelm (Like Me)

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A favorite quote of mine and probably also Dexter Morgan.

 

I noticed something yesterday, which might seem obvious but I constantly find myself turned away from the recurring observation, and having to readdress and relearn its lesson — so I thought I would share it here.

I took good care of myself. All day.

I prioritized what I knew instinctually I needed to do to feel content, and the result was that I felt good, had some fun, and got quite a bit done.

It often happens this way, when I remember the importance of prioritizing my own needs.

I got up early to write, not only because I have made the commitment to publish here every day this month, but also because I have noticed that doing so has been making me happy. I could have snoozed. The desire to write was greater than the desire to snooze.

I made and ate a healthy breakfast. I walked the dog and enjoyed the cool morning air. I showered and dressed and got out the door on time.

All basic, simple stuff. Some might call it boring. I don’t. I’m no longer so tempted. I look at these things as foundations of easiness, from which I can dive into the abyss when I’m writing, safe in the knowledge that when I resurface, I’ll be back in the calm of a stable day.

I listened to a very funny podcast on the way to my job, one that brings me joy and doesn’t feel like work. I got into the office and checked email and took care of business and then spent most of my lunch hour making fan art for the podcast. Then more business and another fun commute thanks to your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, who I am catching up with on Marvel Unlimited after years away from him.

I spoke with a friend. I sent a script out to a studio. I went home and did dishes and listened to music and made dinner. I watched some TV, talked with my wife about her day and about all of the above.

And then I didn’t sleep well. I’m a little cranky about it but it couldn’t be helped.

So the danger is that today will be less productive. But I’m starting to learn the signs of the trap. I’m tired, so I may have to take things slower. I have to continue to prioritize a baseline of inner tranquility, this morning, to offset the fact that my mood might get choppy later today.

It’s possible I’ll have to accept a less productive day overall, in order to regain some momentum tomorrow.

That’s the trick of it, though, isn’t it? I almost turned away from the truth again, right here as I was writing.

It doesn’t help to think too much about tomorrow, in these terms. I can’t do much, if anything, to influence tomorrow. That’s how the trap is sprung. Anything I do to make tomorrow easier exists only in the today.

So, today, nice and easy. I plan to listen to my body, and the needs of my mind and spirit. And to act accordingly.

Thanks for reading. It’s been cool, checking in like this daily. As always, comments welcome.

This is part thirteen of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

Day 01: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 02: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 03: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh

Day 05: On The Future of Labor

Day 06: Appreciating Difficulty, Harnessing its Momentum

Day 07: The Word for World is Earth

Day 08: It’s About The Dreaming, Not The Dream

Day 09: Moments of Presence: CWC Interview (Writer Laura Goode)

Day 10: Simmering Little Wrath of The Annoyed Man

Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder

Day 12: A New Light Borrowed or Discovered

Keep Your Artist Alive: Actor Phoebe Allegra

Phoebe as "Vee" in The Videoblogs.
Phoebe as “Vee” in The Videoblogs.

I have had the pleasure of working closely with Phoebe Allegra. If you haven’t already seen her in The Videoblogs, you’re in for a treat with this episode of Coffee With Creatives.

Among other things, this conversation touches upon:

  • The daily work of building a character
  • The importance of honesty on an off screen
  • Acting as a way to escape, and/or experience new and different aspects of life
  • Choosing NYC over LA
  • Parsing industry feedback
  • Separating your self-worth from career highs (or lows)
  • Approaching racial and gender identity from a place of honor

We definitely dig way in on all those subjects in our talk. Phoebe works hard and has a great attitude. Her enthusiasm is infectious. Enjoy. You can find Phoebe on Twitter here.

As reminders, you can also subscribe to Coffee with Creatives on iTunes and/or support the podcast on Patreon.

Not Dead Yet: Ten Years of Filmmaking

CWC_Patreon_01Today marks the ten year anniversary of the beginning of a near-death experience I had when I was a student in college. For a long time, it was hard for me to talk about that period of my life. Since around the time when I wrote this essay, however, I’ve been able to do a better job of discussing both what happened, and how it has affected me.

In the intervening years since writing that post, I’ve gotten to the point wherein I can talk even more openly, in person, about what happened — without becoming re-traumatized. Years of therapy, the natural erosion of pain via time, and the process of carefully opening up about it, more often, in trusted company over the years, has led me to a place where I can (gratefully) say that.

But something else happened ten years ago, too. Immediately after.

At the time, it was perhaps not the healthiest (sole) reaction to the fears I felt after my hospitalization, but, regardless — today I have come to view it as one of the two best things to have ever happened to me.

I started making films.

As soon as I was (somewhat) recovered from the experience, I began stumbling down a winding and staggered artistic path that continues to this day. Today’s bonus episode of the podcast, among other topics, is meant to explore this journey a bit.

The reasons I decided to talk about the relationship between my work and this incident in my life are many.

  • I wanted to take a life-affirming view of the anniversary of my illness, to focus on the ten years of (hard-won) health and happiness experienced since that time, that I can now identify as essential to my growth as an artist and a person — rather than the first five to seven years of prior intense dread.
  • I have come to view what happened to me not with fear, but with gratitude. I feel a discussion of my evolution to this point of view could potentially be helpful to others who might be struggling as I was at that age (early twenties). It wasn’t just the one thing that happened, which kept me somewhat blocked as an artist, and definitely struggling harder than I needed to struggle, for many years. Arguably, all the experience did was force some stuff to the surface sooner.
  • It seemed a good way to close the book on the lingering anxieties I still sometimes feel when I think about how it felt at that time to be so unsure of tomorrow — despite that fact that we NEVER know what tomorrow is going to bring

So, here’s that episode.

And I realize that my mention of how stumbling into my life as a filmmaker was one of the two best things that’s ever happened to me might naturally lead to questions seeking to identify the other.

Well, she is the guest host for this bonus episode of the podcast. I hope you like it and thank you for listening.

This episode is also available on iTunes.

602066_10100681300095942_1773576913_n (2)Like my style? Subscribe to my list for advanced/exclusive (and free!) access to new (creative) content produced by yours truly. I send one email per month.