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. 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?

NaNoWriMo - The End


I have just finished my 50,000 word novel for the month of November. As you can see from the graph below I had a few struggles along the way.

That big dip you see around day 17 is called life and procrastination. November is all about priorities and sometimes writing takes a back seat, even during NaNoWriMo. Honestly, every NaNoWriMo I have participated in I have fallen behind on word count at some point. The key is not to get discouraged even when you start to fall behind. This is where forums and friends come in.

You see, before my second NaNoWriMo I tried to convince everyone I could to join without much success. It was not until my wife decided to join the challenge that our friends followed suit. My wife and friends have been writing novels along side me for the past four years and that is the reason I have been successful at this endeavor every year. I believe this is true for anything we do. Community is important and without it you may still be successful, but it is a lot harder.

The only reason why I started to catch up this year around day 24 was the goading and prodding of my wife and friends. I had to scramble to bring my word count back to where it should be. I did not want my fifth year to be the year I failed and neither did they. After a lot of coffee and a few write-ins, I finished two days early. It is the earliest I have ever finished NaNoWriMo and I could not have done it without my wife and friends.


What was your NaNo experience? Would you like to join me next year?


The month of November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The challenge put forth by the office of letters and light, the creators of NaNoWriMo, is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. This sounds crazy because writing a novel in a month is crazy. I am now 4 days into it and I am keeping on par so far. 50,000 words in 30 days boils down to writing 1,667 words per day. To give you a brief introduction, here is a song about my favorite part of November. 

I have been doing the NaNoWriMo challenge five years in a row now. This has been one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done. I owe a lot to NaNoWriMo because it is what gave me the courage to start writing novels. If this at all interests you, there is still time to join the fun at NaNoWriMo. Even if you can't do 50,000 words, writing anything is an accomplishment be that 30,000 or 10,000. If you have ever considered writing a story, make writing a priority this month. It is well worth the effort and in the end you will have a document that you can be proud of.

How many of you are doing NaNoWriMo this year?

ThinkGeek Pumpkin Template Contest

ThinkGeek is currently having their Great Geeky Pumpkin Template Contest 2012. They have a lot of cool templates available for download. If you scroll down to the bottom of their webpage you will find my Portal 2 Pumpkin tutorial which was my entry in video form. Do any of you guys have cool nerdy pumpkin templates? If so, you should enter because you can win a bunch of cool geeky stuff. Safe carving!

Video blogging

Video blogging is something I have been thinking about doing for years, but I was just scared to start. After watching hours of various well produced video blogs on YouTube, I went from thinking about it to actually doing it. I am still a newbie to the realm of online video, but I am enjoying it more and more as I make more videos. Here are the top ten things I have learned since starting to vlog

  1. I am crazy picky about video quality
  2. Video cameras are expensive
  3. Video editing software is expensive
  4. Linux still makes me happy (I knew this, but it was affirmed again with free video editing software)
  5. Tripods make everything look better
  6. Do multiple takes (You can always cut stuff out later)
  7. Shooting in public makes me self conscious
  8. Jump cuts are okay
  9. Video codecs are a pain
  10. Filming anything is really all about the lighting and angle

Okay, as I was writing this about forty more things popped into my head. I have found making a somewhat decent video is a lot more work and a lot more time consuming than I had originally expected. I definitely have a lot more respect for all the YouTubers and video makers who take the time to produce great work.

Do any of you video blog? What tips do you have to share?