The Chain of Interests

I know a lot of creative people, I’m sure some of you can relate to this.

I have many interests and had a go at making a living off of several of them with varying degrees of success. I am a published author, I have published mobile apps and video games, I was a photographer for 10 years, and so on.

I often think about what my life might have looked like, if my interests weren’t so scattered. What if all I had ever cared about was music, for instance? Or software architecture?

With many interests, it sometimes feels like time is wasted on transitioning between states, or dabbling to learn things that may never be used again. From a marketing perspective, it is also very challenging to jump back and forth between different outlets, target audiences and messaging. Especially if you are doing it by yourself.

So, what if I had only been a writer? Would I have been a more successful, highly skilled writer? Would my brand be stronger?

It seems likely but here’s the thing: it’s connected like a chain. I am a better writer because I took a lot of portraits as a photographer. Why? Because I studied mood lighting, facial expressions and listened to people’s stories, all of which is transferable to writing.

I make better video games, because I studied how to build suspense in a movie script. I write better songs because I enjoyed building the guitar (seriously, I wrote 7 songs directly inspired by building a Stratocaster).

Of course there is a trade-off. I am not a specialist, which can get in the way, for example when looking for work. I am more of a big picture, high level kind of guy, less focused on polishing the details (though I work well with detail-oriented people). I accept these trade-offs, because the positives make it worthwhile.

Still, there are days where I wonder “what if”?

Love Song to the Single-Day Project

I love a single-day project; a creative challenge that I can start and finish in a single session. It’s okay if that session is 16 hours long, because it’s the ultimate feeling of being in the zone, when you’re chasing that finish. As a creator of things, I have used single-day projects to experiment with new ideas, to learn or try new things, or just as a Sunday fun project.

It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone in order to gain new insight and inspiration. It’s not about producing a masterpiece.

From an experimentation point of view, a single-day project can serve as a taste, to see if this new thing is as awesome/fun/doable as you imagine. Or just to see if you even like doing it. It can also expose weaknesses, areas where you’re going to need to partner with someone, if you’re ever to make this into a real project.

Single-day projects include

  • Writing and recording a song
  • Build a video game prototype
  • Write a short story
  • Shoot and edit a video
  • Paint a painting

Sometimes, these projects just happen without much planning or preparation. However, I have found that with minimal prep, taking a mini project to the next level becomes simpler. The less you have to worry about the little things, the more you can focus on what you are actually trying to do.

Some things that can make your mini project flow better…

  • Prepare snacks and drinks ahead of time
  • Schedule in breaks every few hours
  • Put your phone in do-not-disturb mode
  • Have tools for manual note taking and doodling
  • Make a playlist of inspiring music

Most importantly however, is that you try to define the final delivery. What are you making? Having a goal or end in mind is the best driver towards better productivity, as opposed to just seeing where things go.

Below is my most recent project of this nature, an instrumental track with accompanying music video. The music was written and recorded on the same day, the video was edited (using existing footage).

Also available for download via Bandcamp.

Good luck with your next single-day project!

I, Globalist

I imagine a different world.
I imagine no countries.
I imagine religion as a personal conviction.
I imagine a friendlier, more tolerant world.

It isn’t hard to do. It requires only that we accept, that Our way is not the only way, and that it’s not about being right and wrong.

Why does it matter, where you were born? Or which team you root for? Or what god you worship, if indeed any at all? Or whether you’re more attracted to men or women? Or whether you love a multicolored piece of cloth on a pole?

None of that matters, except in these made up contexts, reinforced by teaching children that those who are different, are also bad. That We and Our ways are superior.

It’s a holdover from the days, where tribal survival could come down to fighting over limited resources needed to live. This is outdated by several centuries and uncivilized. And in the pockets of the world, where basic survival is still an issue, the rest of us could fix that, if we really wanted to.

It is dangerous think small, not past our immediate horizon. Not bothering with the bigger picture, with understanding, with curiosity or empathy. As a species who thinks so highly of itself, we fail in this on a regular basis.

We can do better.

I do believe humans have a basic need for possession, so let’s keep that. You can own your own things, including a plot of land, from which you can ban whomever you want, should you so desire. On an individual scale, I think this is healthy. Who doesn’t need a bit of privacy?

Although tribalism is inherent in us, we are no longer bound by the tribes we are born into, and we can even belong to multiple tribes at once. Your clothing identifies you as belonging to a certain tribe, whether as a corporate lackey, an all-black goth, or a skinny-jeans-wearing hipster. Going to a stadium for a sports event or a concert, is a tribal ritual. We form clubs and unions, churches, political parties and so on, to be with our various tribes.

Being social creatures, it is good to be among the like minded. But we don’t have to be stupid about it.

You can be part of your tribe without disparaging others. You can support your team without hating the opponents. You can dislike a musician without writing off their fans as morons with poor taste. You can worship your god without thinking of those who don’t as infidels. You can love your flag without thinking of those who don’t as hateful.

You may say I am a Globalist (since Dreamer means something else, these days).

I am fairly sure, I am not the only one.

This post was inspired by the current state of affairs, and by the wonderful song by John Lennon/Yoko Ono, Imagine.