WRITING: Stop Pretending Art is Hard

So quit the bitching on your blog
And stop pretending art is hard.
Just limit yourself to three chords
And do not practice daily!

- Amanda Palmer, Ukelele Anthem [2012]

This lyric, one of my favourites, is clearly bullshit, yes? Art is hard, right?

I mean, really. Art is totally, mindbreakingly difficult. Except when it’s astonishingly easy. Creating your next masterpiece can be easy as breathing one day, then you can find yourself struggling just to do anything the next. Art is easy and art is hard.

The thing is, that’s not what Palmer is saying here. She’s not saying, “Art is easy.”

Take another look – do not practice daily, she says. Why? Why is Amanda Palmer, an internationally known musician, recommending you buy a $20 ukelele and barely learn to play it?

Because she’s saying, “Art doesn’t have to be hard, doesn’t have to be good, to be worth the effort.”

She’s saying, play the ukelele badly as long as you play it. Sketch terribly as long as you sketch. Write and sing and dance and play terribly, because the art isn’t the thing, sometimes. Sometimes doing the art, creating the art, is the thing. Don’t give a shit if what you’re creating is worthwhile, sometimes, because it’s the process of being creative that enriches you and awakens you.

Plus: You can’t do good art until you do bad art. Just like, if you’re learning a language, there will be a time where you are terrible at speaking that language. But you keep going because you know, if you keep going, that you’ll be fluent.

(Unless you’re a savant and instantly are perfect at something. In which case, do me a solid and pick something you’re capable of being bad at, here.)

Good art is hard. And it takes work, and effort, and time, and probably money if you’re really serious about it.

But bad are, mediocre art, who gives a fuck art? That’s also important, because it takes the pressure off. There’s no audience, no grand goal, no big intention. Just you, creating something because you want to.

Buy a ukelele. Write some fanfiction. Sing in the shower. Write awkward, misshapen poetry about your earliest memory. Sketch some passing visual fancy of yours. Take photos of trees and street signs and your lunch. Create. Because creation is inherently valuable, even if you don’t share it, even if you aren’t trying to make Great Art. Instead, take some time to experience art.

Trust me. It’s worth it.

PERSONAL: Reading Update October 2014

I gave a reading update last month, as usual. This round, I read where I could in between many commitments, slowed but not stopped…

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PERSONAL: Reading Update September 2014

I gave a reading update last month, as usual. This round, I polished off a lot of books ahead of my move back to Toronto to prevent having to tae them with me, which resulted in some pretty nice results…

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PERSONAL: Reading Update August 2014

I gave a reading update last month, as usual. Since then, I’ve been pushing myself to read as many books as possible before summer ends and I move back to the city. And it seems to be working!

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WRITING, ETC.: Links Roundup Aug 3-9

I spend a lot of time on Twitter. One of my main functions there is collecting and reposting interesting links. But a tweet, or a retweet, is so ephemeral. It vanishes into the livestream within minutes. So, I thought — I’ve wanted to do more here at The Diversionist and a collection of said links might be a good way to make them a little more permanent.

I figured I’d start with a week’s worth of links – which comes out to the grand number of 64! Here goes…

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WRITING: @YouAreCarrying Literary Improv, Chapter 2

I’m pretty charmed by @YouAreCarrying, a Twitter bot that will give you a text-game style inventory if you tweet the word inventory at it. It’s like an insta-prompt, and it always gets my brain buzzing with creativity.

So, as a creative experiment, I’m going to write a story based on what the bot gives me, with each ‘chapter’ using the given inventory. Why not have a little fun? Think of it as literary improv…

Chapter one is here.

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WRITING: @YouAreCarrying Literary Improv, Chapter 1

I’m pretty charmed by @YouAreCarrying, a Twitter bot that will give you a text-game style inventory if you tweet the word inventory at it. It’s like an insta-prompt, and it always gets my brain buzzing with creativity.

So, as a creative experiment, I’m going to try and write a story based on what the bot gives me, with each ‘chapter’ using the given inventory. Why not have a little fun? Think of it as literary improv…

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PERSONAL: Reading Update July 2014

I gave a reading update last month. Since then… I’ve been reading quite a bit.

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WRITING: Execution is What Counts

Greatness lies in more than an idea.

Even legally, what’s protected is the execution. Because therein lies the soul.

If you gave the same logline to seven great writers and asked them to turn it into a script, you would likely get seven brilliant scripts – all vastly different from one another in tone, theme, pacing and even content. They could probably all turn around and sell their scripts without fear, because they would be that different.

We, as writers, each have a unique perspective. Which means that though an underlying idea is great, it’s not your meal ticket. Your golden spec idea? There are at least five people out there who have had the exact same idea. Three of them have written it. Two have pitched it – one’s gotten turned down and the other’s circling the drain in development hell. But you don’t realise that you’re not a singular genius because none of the others have hit the market.

And that’s with the most unique idea you might encounter.

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INHUMAN CONDITION IS GOING TO SERIES

My webseries Inhuman Condition – my passion project, which I have loved and shepherded for two years and relentlessly promoted for the last few months – has been selected to receive IPF funding. In short: We’re going to series!!

What does this mean? The details are scarce, as Smokebomb will be firming up official plans now that we’ve got the greenlight. It’s my personal hope that we’ll be in production before end of the year and release early next, but there’s no official word on that, so don’t quote me. Episode count and length, also unconfirmed, though I’ll let you all know the moment it’s officially firmed up.

What can you do to support us? Well, first off – many of you have already been amazingly helpful by participating in our IPF campaign, so I want to take a second to THANK YOU for helping make this possible! We – literally-  couldn’t have done this without your support and enthusiasm.

But, you say — the past is the past and we want to participate now. Well, thankfully, there’s plenty you can do – by engaging with our ongoing campaign & transmedia and, hopefully, having a bit of fun with us!

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