Anatomy of an Idea – Beach Day Valentine

Anatomy of an Idea – Beach Day Valentine

This is how I came to write the previous blog post, Beach Day Valentine.

#1 Go to the beach many times and love it.

As of this sentence I have not written Beach Day Valentine (though you may have read it). I wrote this essay first. We will come back to that. Let’s go chronologically.

#2 Have the thought, while at the beach, of writing a blog post about the beach.

This is the least controllable part. You either have an initiating thought or you don’t. It’s the next step that you have control over and is critical to manifesting.

#3 Immediately take a few photos to illustrate the blog post.

If you have a good idea, it’s best to act on it as soon as possible. Any action will be more fruitful than no action. You can’t do anything with nothing, but you can add to something. Waiting never helps. Doing something is always best. If it’s fun, it doesn’t even take effort. That’s why I like both art and exercise to be fun. Much better chance of something happening.

#4 Look at the photos and choose the ones I want to use.

This gets my creative juices flowing. Looking at photos is way easier than writing. The images remind me of what I want to say.

#5 Start the post and write the title.

I start with Beach Day. Then I write the following sentence. This is not a very interesting title, but it doesn’t need to be. Beach Days are the best.

Dud title and a dud first sentence!

Oh well! I have to start somewhere. I persevere hoping things will improve. I write a bit more and give up. I am not even close to saying what I want to say. Somehow, I am saying a bunch of stuff I definitely don’t want to say. Writing is weird.

I have a new idea. I think I should stick with my first idea but the new idea is really compelling me, so I act on it.

#6 Start writing this second blog post, the one you are reading now.

Both frustrated that I wasn’t getting down to business with the post I was supposed to be writing and excited by my new idea, writing about the writing process, I start this post. Now I have two posts with titles and a few paragraphs.

#7 Finish and publish Beach Day Valentine.

A day later I write the whole thing. I still don’t have a better idea for the title. I’m on the verge of just accepting a boring title. I write a final paragraph (one that got removed) and in it I use the phrase Beach Day Valentine. That’s it!

This happens to me a lot. I am not sure how the whole thing will land or if it will land. I only figure it out while doing the activity. I just write and write and write, and edit and edit and edit, until it all comes together. It’s usually at the very end, after several rounds of editing, that the ending becomes clear. I never know the ending at the beginning.

The beginning is always only a hunch, an itch, a maybe.

#8 Come back to this post to see if it’s actually interesting or was only a stupid diversion.

Ideas begat ideas. It’s fun to explore them, to act swiftly and without thinking. Not in real life, that’s dangerous, but in one’s creative life it’s more than okay, it’s the whole thing.

A Habit Must Be Established Before It Can Be Improved

A Habit Must Be Established Before It Can Be Improved

This is my 100th blog post. It took one-month shy of seven years to get here.

Nobody knows what they’re doing when they start. I didn’t know when I started but I know more now. What might I know in ten years? I hope I find out.

The title quote is from James Clear. It helped me a lot. I was not doing things I “wanted” to do because I didn’t really want to do them. Or I “wanted” to do them at a high level, a level so high it was only possible to imagine doing it, not actually do it. I “wanted” to do yoga for an hour like I did at my yoga studio before the pandemic. But I never wanted to be in my living room with my yoga mat for an hour. Never. Never once did I want that in the past year. That’s why I went to a yoga studio in the first place. Because once you’re there, there is no escape. The social pressure is really important for me to overcome lethargy.

But in dwelling on the quote, I thought maybe I could start with something very very short. I could just do it for the length of one song. Just a few stretches. That’s it! One song Caren. You got this.

It worked! That was not too bad. I did not hate that.

Over time, I found that I was totally willing to do yoga for the length of a few songs. Sometimes I would do more than I intended. Isn’t that fun? That’s like a habit starting to form. Woah! I now exercise several mornings a week for ten minutes. Ten minutes is something I can manage. Ten minutes doesn’t freak me out. Ten minutes is happening. I don’t have to pressure myself into it. It’s something I actually like to do. I’ve built a habit.

Rather than make your hopes and goals bigger make them smaller. Make them so small you are doing them.

Are you by chance curious what little book I wrote this quote in? It’s last year’s pandemic little book. Here is a picture of the cover. I can’t get my fill of Danny Trejo in pink. His vegan donuts are off the hook. Try them if you are in Los Angeles.

Stop Telling Him Anything And Just Get To It

Stop Telling Him Anything And Just Get To It

Having ideas for me is easy. Ideas are just thoughts and who know where they come from, but they are impossible to stop. Turning an idea into an actual thing, executing it, manifesting it, that’s very hard. Nothing just comes, everything has to be implemented.

I have a voice in my head that plays devil’s advocate on any idea we are interested in pursuing. This analytical character loves to quickly game out our idea and get right to pointing out potential problems. While we struggle to maintain enthusiasm and even memory for the initial idea, they rapidly innumerate the pitfalls and problems we are likely to experience. Knowing us as well as we know ourselves, they are particularly adept at seeing where our weaknesses are going to come into play and reminding us how ideas didn’t work out in the past due to poor follow through and systemic indecision. There is only one way around this fellow, stop telling him anything and just get to it.

Take any part of the idea and implement something. If you want a blog, create a site on WordPress. If you want to draw, get some paper. Or even better, just draw something. On anything and hang it up where you will see it multiple times a day. Or maybe it’s a much bigger idea like turn Sidewalk Faces into a book, sell prints online, have a show. What do you do then?

The first idea, the initiating big idea, is not really a thing at all, it’s just a trail marker at the beginning of the hike. It signifies that you are at the beginning and should go forward. The good ideas come after you have taken the first action. They are more useful than the ideas the critic was responding to because those ideas were theoretical. The ideas that follow an action are much easier to implement because they are connected to something tangible. If you signed up with WordPress for a blog and then wrote a post it wouldn’t be too difficult to have an idea about a second post. And way less difficult to write it because all you would have to do is log in and go. The trick is to do the idea that has a motor behind it, the one you most truly want to do, not the one you think you should do. Not the one the critic says will add up to something.

I started this blog six years ago, before I had made my first Sidewalk Face. I didn’t know what it was for. I just wanted to write more. I wanted to see what I would write if I gave myself a place to do it. I am almost at one hundred posts! I now know what I like to write about and if I am able to conceptualize a book, I have some written content to play with. As for selling my work, I am so close. Stay tuned! Just don’t tell my inner critic what we are up to!