Creative Spaces

Creative spaces are a very personal thing. It is where worlds are created and the abstract becomes something tangible. It can be the kitchen table or an entire room devoted to your craft. Here are a few things I prefer for my creative space:

• A large desk 
This gives me space to spread out papers and still have room for my keyboard and mouse.

• A book shelf
I enjoy having books at my fingertips and bookshelves are one of the most aesthetically pleasing ways to do this.

• Blank paper
I always go back and forth on whether to have lined paper or completely blank. I have found that I much prefer the blank. I like to draw and work organically and feel limited when I use lined paper.

• A Nerf gun
This is mainly to deter any interruptions and cats. 

• A computer
Writing and video editing requires me to use a desktop for most of my work. I currently work with four monitors.

• Sharp pointy objects
I have always liked knives and swords. My wife and I took a German longsword class and we both enjoyed it immensely. 

What does your creative space look like? What items do you find necessary?

Ethnography and writing

Ethnography: A branch of anthropology dealing with the scientific descriptions of individual cultures. Dictionary.com During graduate school I took a class called Ethnographic Methods. It was pretty much people watching on steroids. We were required to wake up and pay attention to the world around us and document it. One assignment in particular sticks out in my mind. We had to go out in public and collect data. This meant going somewhere and writing about the people, the place, and what was going on. We also had to be discrete by participating in the event but all the while writing things down.

I choose to do my assignment at the local farmer's market. Saturday morning, a few classmates and I went to the local city square where the market was happening. I decided to use my phone to keep my notes. That way I could look like I was texting while really taking notes. When I arrived, I drew a map of all the booths in my notebook and wondered what to do next. I have had a lot of experience people watching, but I had never taken notes on it. What should I write? I started asking myself various questions:

Where do people go first? Why can a puppy be without a leash around all this food? How do customers know who to pay? Should people really wear that color? How long does the typical person stay at each booth? Who is allowed to sneeze and not cover their mouths? What type of people are here? Where is that awesome smell coming from? Which booths are the most popular? What ages are the people here? Why is the coffee all the way down the block!?

Answering these questions told me a lot about my own culture that I had never noticed before. It showed me the things we just know. I was able to see my culture instead of just being a part of it.

I sometimes still do this when I go places. It has become a little addictive to be honest. This practice has given me a better understanding of my own culture and the people who live in it.

All of this has also increased my people watching by about 400%. (When I am paying attention.) Coffee also seems to increase this process exponentially.

Have you ever noticed why people do things they do? Do you have any fun people watching stories?

How I became a writer

My day started innocently enough. It was a November afternoon and I had been reasonably content after a wonderful lunch. There I was sitting at my desk working when my life was changed forever. My wife walked into our office and told me one of our co-workers was writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month. This statement would have been a friendly conversation starter for most people, something to talk about and then forget, but not for me. The conversation had reignited a spark in the back of my mind. My voice rose as I asked, "National Novel Writing Month?"

She explained the fascinating rules of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I glanced at the calendar on the wall, November 5th. I decided to do it. Who needed silly things like sleep or free time. I was going to write the novel that had been floating around in my head. The novel that was banging on the artificial cell I had built to keep it contained. I unlocked the cell and handed the novel the keys. I had become a writer.

The next day, I found my co-worker who had indirectly changed my life. I told her I had joined the challenge and was writing a novel as well. When I told her my word count, her eyes widened. She nodded politely and we went our separate ways.

We posted our word counts online which fueled the informal competition. It was fun. It was social. It was accountability.

I find myself carrying a notebook everywhere, having a greater love of coffee, and reading more books. This writing thing is not without a learning curve. I am reading, studying, and sweating to improve my writing. It is hard, but I am loving it.

Writing was a passion I ignored because it was not entirely socially acceptable, but with a nudge from NaNoWriMo I have embraced it.

What would you do if no one judged your choices?

Renewed perspective on the world around me

Have you ever gone on a vacation that took your mind off everything? I will be the first to admit, I often get caught up in my thoughts and routine. Recently, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend a friend's wedding that completely pulled me out of my world. We drove 12 hours to North Carolina. We spent the weekend hanging out with friends and visiting our alma mater. The culmination of the weekend was our friend's wedding. She walked down the aisle toward her future husband in a beautiful white dress, and it struck me how much I did not know about them. I had only met the groom in passing several years ago and it had been a while since I had seen the bride. I didn't know their story, but I wanted to. I was seeing just a small scene in the narrative of their life and it intrigued me.

This wedding reminded me that I am not the center of my universe. Everyone's life and story is running parallel to everyone else's. It is a shocking thought to realize that every person we pass on the road, every person we make eye contact with has their own problems, questions, passions, and stories.

The weekend forced me out of my own head, away from the everyday grind, and showed me a scene in a story outside of my own. Everyone has a story and I need to be careful not to believe mine is the only one that matters.

What pulls you out of your self focused universe?

Moleskine Muse

I have a muse. She lives in a Moleskine notebook that goes with me everywhere. She keeps me sane. My Moleskine muse revealed herself to me during a Night Before Christmas poetry contest my in-laws hold every year. We all rewrite the poem "Twas the night before Christmas" and read them on Christmas eve. One year I had nothing. Not a blip of action on the proverbial radar of creativity.

I could not even come up with a theme for my poem, so I wrote a short story to get my creative juices flowing. I am a fiction writer, not a poet. So, I let go and just wrote whatever came to mind. My muse revealed herself as the main character of a story, much to my surprise. I had never really thought much of muses. She introduced herself as A-musing and asked for a pair of socks. So, I gave the muse her socks and she has been around ever since.

Now, whenever I am stuck, her antics always give me something to write about. Recently, she moved into my Moleskine notebook that I carry with me everywhere. She is a constant (very constant) reminder to write down ideas and observations as I go through my day. She has spunk and keeps humor in my day and in my writing

My Moleskine is now the catch-all of creative inspiration and story ideas, carefully curated by A-Musing.

Here is a list of some of the things A-Musing helps me keep track of in my Moleskine:

• Story Ideas • Short scenes • Taglines • Observations • Outlines • Quotes • Doodles • Dialogs

A-Musing has become the curator of creativity in my notebook and I would not have it any other way.

Do you have a notebook to catch your thoughts? Do you have a muse that helps you write? What do you write in your notebook?