The Perfect Time of Day

My most productive time of day tends to be the early morning. Always has been.  I’m what you call a “morning” person.

I wake easily at 4:30am, on a late day 5:00am – I pour my coffee and start writing. It’s this perfect kind of quiet that fuels me. It’s not just the absence of cars or the lack of people talking in the distance, it’s more about a pure nothingness that seems to be the start of something…  a new beginning, a new day, a new possibility that inspires me.

I’ve always been this person. Even as a kid. Back then, I’d wake up early and run out into the street in front of my house and stand under the still dimming light of the streetlamp and start to dance. I loved that time – I remember it as if it were yesterday – there’d be no cars, no movement, no sound anywhere –  and yet my thoughts were so perfectly clear I could hear the symphony as I danced along the gravel “floor”…

I do love the quiet. My dream would be to live on a ranch close enough to the city, but far enough away to not hear the daily sounds of trucks going by and neighbors doing their thing – kids jumping rope or the gardeners blowing leaves.  In the city, even the quiet of the day is still not really quiet at all. There’s a natural hum that happens during each day, different depending on the time – that too is preferable to pure country living, where crickets and cicadas are a type of noise I’ll never get used too.

Then there’s the ocean.  Oh, how I love thee – but not to live by.  Near the ocean is fine. 2 miles is perfect in fact.  But to sleep by the ocean waves, although beautiful and fierce, would be the same kind of pain to me as the crickets and cicadas – disturbing and out of sync with my need for that pure nothingness quiet that starts my every day.

I don’t know how it ever happened. I don’t remember the day I became a morning person.  I don’t think you can force yourself to be one or the other – it’s just an “IS-ness” I do suppose.  Maybe, if you’re born in the morning, then the morning is your time?  I have no idea. But I was born in the early morning and that just makes perfect sense. 

So, yes, I love the early morning sunrise. The glow of all things new. It’s my favorite time of day. My most productive too.

Carmen

My Creative Process – What’s Yours?

My Creative Process  (Enjoy the podcast or the transcription below)

 

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I was asked this question the other day when I was speaking to a group of women.  The question was:  What is your creative process?

I don’t know why I was so taken aback by the question.  It’s a valid question,  but I guess I hadn’t really thought about it as a creative process.

I think one of the most important things that you can do as an artist, in any way shape or form that doesn’t get enough credit, is daydream.

I go running in the morning down to the beach and I have a bench that I sit at that I absolutely love – and there are times when I’ll drive down to the beach even after I’ve gone for a workout or whatever and I’ll just sit on that bench and I daydream.  The process of being able to sit quietly and just think things through — this is probably the most important thing that I do as an artist especially when it comes to writing and especially when it comes to writing my book.  Those stories are pretty much real true stories that happened to me, but I had to decide how to tell the story.

So one of the things  I would do, is kind of see that story in my head and imagine myself back there. And sometimes that’s a really good thing, and sometimes it’s a hard thing, but that’s the first part of my process.  And I think sometimes we’re really mean to ourselves about daydreaming and about just having time to imagine, imagination and story-telling.  In our own heads we kind of think we’re being lazy or you know that we should be automatically writing everything right now…  that’s not how it works for me.

I spend a lot more time thinking about what it is I’m going to write — and then I am someone who writes in journals.  And I prefer that texture of actual paper to pen — pen to paper —  so I will write out those stories and I write every morning and it is long hand and sometimes it’s cursive sometimes it’s printing sometimes I’m just doodling, sometimes I’m writing just the name over and over and over again – Like you did in high school or whatever.  Some people who follow my blog have seen some of my Journal entries.  The reason why I don’t do them all the time is because I’m not always “journaling” about one subject and you know sometimes I’m venting or trying to process things because it is a Journal.

But I do enjoy that long-hand part, so once I write down that story or that part of the imagination or day dream that I had,  then I go and I put it on the computer.  I just basically try to put it into some type of form on Word and then I leave it alone.  I leave it alone for a long time. And then I come back to it.  It could be a month later, or it can be 2 days later, but I come back to it and make a decision on whether or not I’m gonna keep that or not.  Then once I keep it, it is sent to an editor.

I tell people when I first wrote my book it was 664 pages. Now it’s not that at all, I think it’s like 160 pages now — but I wrote everything and then I went through the process of having three different people — that I will call editors – they were people who know me and who don’t know me – and I wanted them to just look at it for clarity.  And then I had an actual editor work on it before it got published of course.

That’s the process of how I went about doing my book and that is the process that I’m going through right now with the second book that I’m writing as well.  And in everything I’ve ever done, dancing, acting, any of these things —  I do kind of the same thing: I daydream.  I imagine, I dream and I try to conceptualize it in my head.  And I honor that process — I honor the process of being able to sit quietly.  And sometimes I think about nothing! Because sometimes, that’s when something pops and something makes sense, and something comes together is when you take the time to just BE.

So I wanted to share that. I thought it was kind of a cool question and maybe it’s odd, but maybe there’s a lot more people out there that do the same thing I did.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a sweet day and I’ll be back again real soon.

Carmen

 

*Music – “Prelude No. 23” by Chris Zabriskie

Epic Failure: Taking My Own Medicine

I sometimes find myself working as a consultant generally helping start-ups move forward.

This particular start-up company that called me in is a mixture of freelancers and employees.  They were working business black suitwith a pretty high profile client on a project that seemed to take forever. Unfortunately, they didn’t understand or take into account the financial ramifications of what it would actually cost them to produce their art.  So they ended up losing money.  In essence, the small promising start-up company ended-up paying to work.

To add to the loss of money they endured, the client whose project they worked on for months, decided not to use their work and went with a rival company instead.  That stung for sure.

When I was asked to help these creatives unravel their problem with finances I simply told them:  “The issue you’re having is you don’t fully understand your own value as an artist. You don’t get the big picture.”

The room went uncomfortably silent.  They seemed stunned.  How dare I? And what could I possibly mean?   The vibe I was getting felt like they were all secretly screaming – We’re designers and absolutely understood our own work, crazy lady.  Eeeh, I kept on…

“Look, art is a beautiful thing. Being creative is magnificent and all of us have to find it within ourselves to express who we really are – – and some of us do that by designing, some by writing, and others by being teachers, actors or whatever.  But being creatively brilliant isn’t enough.  It is, if what you’re going for is being creative in your bedroom or basement and only showing your stuff to your family and friends. But if you’re going to put your art out there and expect people to buy it, then you’re going to have to learn the other part of being a creative person – and that involves ALSO understanding the business end of the spectrum. That’s what I mean by not understanding fully your value as an artist.”

Lightbulbs seemed to be going off above some heads. So I continued on:

“Look, I saw your boards. I saw how meticulous it was that you scheduled time for each frame, for each character, for each part of the story. I saw the schedule you put in place for each person’s time on each individual thing. But what I didn’t see was that same dedication into billing for that time, or any time frame for revisions and costs to those adjustments.  I don’t see a budget anywhere that includes things like materials, overages and/or calendar changes.  Basically, a client offered you money and you took it without a thought to any of that. Creating art as a business isn’t just about the design. It’s about something bigger than that. The technical stuff. The money stuff. The marketing stuff. Business is the umbrella, but under that umbrella is a lot of other “stuff” to understand and master to make it work and to make it profitable. ”

They got it.

“Let’s talk about what someone earlier called an ‘epic failure’.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, mistakes are going to happen.  Not just in business, but in life.  It’s never an epic failure to make a mistake unless of course you make the mistake over and over and over again and never learn from it.  If you learn from the mistake, then it was a valuable lesson and one that should be embraced and then let go. Period.  Consider it a learning moment. That’s a good thing.  It’s an education.  And education is never free.  Change your perspective to a positive about this particular project. It feels better and helps you move on…”

Well the vibe in the room seemed lighter.  They got it.  Applause.  I felt good.

And then, just as quickly I realized I had to make a note to myself — so on my phone I quickly typed in a memo:  You know what would be really great Carm? If you actually practiced what you preached and took some of your own medicine!

Ahhhh….a perfect example of a “Carmen-ism” for sure!