How to Be Creative in a World Full of Sellouts

Sometimes when I travel, I find a takeaway, which is a souvenir for my brain. It can enlighten me and inspire a new way of thinking. This time, it included thoughts of creativity, originality, and its risks in a world where selling out is common. That invisible souvenir was even better than the sunglasses I bought!

Susie in Sunglasses

Lots of ideas floated around in my head after my California trip. I had been inspired by what I had seen and experienced. LA is a place where being different is embraced from fashion trends to lifestyle and everything in between. I really love its creative people. Their energy is contagious!

With stops at The Broad, a contemporary art museum, the art district in Downtown LA, and a conversation with a clothing designer, the five days filled me with all kinds of inspiration.

A famous Warhol in The Broad.

IMG_7504

But what was it about art, design, and the freedom of expression and how Californians wear clothing that kept my brain bouncing?

I was trying to reconcile it with what I’ve been seeing online, lately.

While surrounded by duplication, there’s a risk in originality, right?

When perusing Pinterest, I’ve noticed many blog posts that are super similar. Some promise huge increases in stats. Others, on how to make money. The similarities don’t stop at content. Their blogs are almost carbon copies.

Were they really successful or just snake oil salesmen? The straight-up bait-and-switch bloggers won’t get anywhere. What I do know is there are millions of lifestyle bloggers writing the same posts. Many will quit in less than a year when they become frustrated with their results.

Lari Pittman’s mural behind Jeff Koons’ Jim Beam Train at The Broad.

Abstract art at The Broad

Why should I care?

Like most bloggers, one of my goals is to increase views. I had been tempted to blog a bunch of bullet-pointed travel posts since I have tons of photos. They would do very well on Pinterest, which is becoming a huge traffic generator for bloggers.

After writing one about California, I laughed. I set it aside for a few days and then reread it and laughed again. “No way,” I said out loud to no one. I couldn’t blog it. My brain told me so.

Brain: Don’t do it. Don’t follow the crowd just to blow up on Pinterest.

Me: Why not sellout a little bit for a few extra clicks? This post would totally blow up. (That’s good, BTW. It means my post would soar with lots of views.)

Brain: Because it’s not your brand. Continue being original and creative. Be you!

Me: But being original and me? That is so risky!

Brain: That’s what it’s all about. How do you think the super bloggers became super? By being like everyone else?

Me: …no…

Brain: Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to want to increase views and followers, but do it in a way where you don’t sell out. You’ve spent almost seven years building an audience. You don’t want to turn them away for more hits. Your goal is to write books while continuing to blog.

Me: I totally get that. So can I write about my travels as long as I make them personal stories?

My Brain: Sure, and don’t forget to include all the dumb stuff you do. Readers love that.

Me: I have tons of material.

Brain: Yeah, I know.

It took almost a week, but I finally wrapped my mind around my souvenir.

If you’re a musician, artist, writer, blogger, or any other creative person who is producing content or a product, make sure to capture a part of you in what you create. Originality is key. Duplicating what’s already popular almost always ends up being a mere shadow of the original. If you’re interested in a popular idea, personalize it somehow. Experiment. Come at it in a new way. Turn it upside down. Put it on your head and wear it for a while. Play with it.

Readers want to be entertained, educated, or inspired. The hardest part is to get them to click. It’s our job to give them something new to think about.

Wondering what to create? Ask yourself these questions:

Who are you? What is your unique perspective or what are you trying to say that’s different from everyone else? Where are you from? What’s your story? What are you afraid of? Why? It’s probably holding you back from your full potential.

Fear is deadly to creativity. Be courageous and unlock your brain. You might be surprised by its crazy ideas!

This is my brain on inspiration:

An illustration of my brain on inspiration.

 

My brain is super crazy. Ask anyone. Especially when it’s filled with invisible souvenirs!

Do vacations inspire you? Are you creative? Do you go out of your way to avoid fear or do you face them head on?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

Related posts:

18 Best Blog Tips: New Ways to Promote Your Blog, Increase Traffic, and More!

How to Be Discovered on WordPress!

Oh, Cali, How I’ve Missed You! A Photo Essay

Two Jews and a Blonde or Partying in Downtown Los Angeles

Weird Thoughts from the Sick Bed

I arrived home from a trip to California on Tuesday night and sneezed.

I don’t want to get sick.

My mind raced back to the time when I pressed the button on an elevator with my knuckle (I’m so smart) and then rubbed my itchy eye with the same body part. (I’m so stupid!) Or it could have been the lady sneezing next to me on the plane. Or I could have been exposed by cold-suffering cooks the many times I ate in restaurants.

Oh, no. What if it’s the flu? At least I got my flu shot.

My nose turns a handle somewhere inside my nasal passages and becomes a faucet. I’m sick. Dang it!

Weird thoughts while sick in bed:

Self-portrait in Bed

Maybe the reason we get sick is our bodies want a day off and hijack our brains. I wish I could enjoy it. *sneeze*

My head feels like a giant zit.

Whoever (whomever? I’m too tired to remember) invented chicken noodle soup should be honored with a national holiday.

I’m afraid I’m getting a fever. I’m wearing my favorite fleece pajamas under the covers and haven’t broken out in a sweat. Plus I threw on an extra comforter. *shiver*

When I’m booked with a ton of activities, all I can think about is crawling into bed for a quick afternoon nap. When I’m sick, all I can think about are all the activities I’m missing.

I know this has been asked a million times, but where does all the snot come from?

I force myself to eat breakfast to keep up my strength. I have no appetite. Maybe I’ll lose some weight! I wonder how many calories I burn while laying in bed. 800 calories per day? I’ll probably gain weight…

Oh, my God! It’s 4:50 PM! When did I fall asleep? I don’t remember dreaming. I must have fallen asleep. This must be what a narcoleptic feels like. 

How can they (the Internet) say it’s not a fever unless a temperature is over 100.4 degrees? I’m chilled, achy, and my head feels like it’s going to explode. I don’t think a few tenths of a degree is going to change my symptoms.

There really is a huge difference between tissues. Thank you, Kleenex!

Two Tylenol would take care of my fever, chills, aches, and pains. I would feel so much better. I could get something done. AND THEY’RE SITTING ON MY BEDSIDE TABLE!

But someone told me a long time ago that the fever is caused by an army of white blood cells fighting germs. I hate whoever (whomever?) told me. What if it was a lie and all I have to do is take those pills to end all my suffering???? Dammit!

One day later.

Watching TV makes my eyes hurt.

How can I sleep so much?

I wonder how long it takes before my muscles atrophy.

My Bichon, Roxy, has been cuddling with me for two days. I never noticed how much dogs sleep.

Is it Wednesday or Thursday?

Taking my temperature has become a rhythmic, every thirty minutes, thing.

99.9. 99.5 99.7. 99.8 99.5 99.9 99.8 99.9 99.5 99.6 99.7 99.9. 99.6 99.8 99.9…

98.3!!!! My normal temperature!

Woohoo! I want to run around and dance, but I stand up and my bedroom spins.

*sneeze*

*sniff*

I can handle being sick when it’s only a cold.

Have you been hit with the flu? Do you push yourself unless you have a fever?

Click for more Wild Adventures! 

Related posts:

An Ode to a Midwinter Cold

A bad cold is just like this…

Brainstormed Design Ideas for the Future

I’m a writer, illustrator, and child of the 1960’s. What do I know about designing for the future? I grew up with Star Trek and could relate to its creator, Gene Roddenberry. What we have in common is imagination. When I was a kid, I used to have a recurring dream where a Polaroid picture would move like a video for about five seconds. When I saw Harry Potter for the first time, I loved seeing the wizards’ newspapers. Moving photos on paper. I’m still waiting for that.

All technological breakthroughs start with an idea.

Creative people are the indispensable cogs which jump start the design engine. With the ignorance of engineering and technology, they can brainstorm all kinds of crazy ideas. I am the queen of crazy. There are no rules for imagination. So here goes.

Windows for the World

We all love windows. I can’t imagine living in a home without them. What if you had to create a livable environment in an undesirable location? It may not be cost effective to have windows. Homes built in extreme climates like in the Antarctic, Arctic, desert, or Mars could have live feed windows. A camera mounted outside could project the image inside on a faux window/television screen. This would provide the link to the outdoors needed for mental health. Mine especially. It could be programmed to provide a completely different picture if the environment wasn’t so great like in heavily polluted areas or looking at a building’s brick wall.

The creators of LG Ultra put their screens to the test. Continue reading

A Cosmic Joke after Trauma

When life becomes a cosmic joke, I’m ready for the punchline.

It’s more than traumatic when someone healthy dies moments after you speak with them. My mind has been flooded with what ifs and the disbelief that anyone could sit down and pass away from a clot. I’m still in shock after almost three weeks.

So what’s the joke?

My husband, Danny, and I returned home to regroup before the funeral. We stepped inside and a steady dripping sound greeted us. Part of the ceiling lay on the floor of the guest bedroom. Water collected in pools on the hickory floors around it.

Remember my demon washing machine story?

This is the guest bedroom on the first floor under the laundry room.

When it rains it pours - a cosmic joke

In a panic, I ran upstairs to the laundry room. Water poured from the cold faucet. Why now? I checked those faucets three times a day for five weeks and they had never shed a drop.

The drain under the washer remained dry. Water ran inside the wall and had collected in the ceiling, which caved in. Then it traveled through the floor to our unfinished basement below.

I ran down the steps. Water sprinkled our kid’s apartment furniture and inconsequential storage containers. My eyes fell on a large rectangular box. It had leaned against the wall since we moved in seventeen years ago. It contained some of my artwork.

“Are you effing kidding me?” I shouted and shook my head. I didn’t need this while planning for my brother’s funeral.

Then I rushed back upstairs, stood in the guest bedroom doorway and laughed. Continue reading

An Ode to a Midwinter Cold

midwinter-cold

Hark!

Is that a death rattle I hear, trembling the dark wood around me?

Nope.

‘Tis the phlegm from thy chest cold shaking the bed frame as I hack up another loogie.

A midwinter cold has claimed yet another Kleenex which shroud thy bedclothes like moguls on ski slopes in thy feverish dreams.

Okay, so I don’t have a fever, but as I gaze out the window, red nose pressed against the glass, the lengthening daylight draws me outdoors, like a siren, or Beckham, or some other hot guy. Thy waning energy, thy only defense against overdoing it on yonder slackline. (A gift from Santa.)

yonder-slackline

Each day, upon wakening, hope soars that its hold has loosened. Alas all that has loosened are the reeds in thy larynx as I croak in a strong baritone, “Coffee, I need coffee.” Perhaps I should audition for a boy band.

And so linger do I like fingerprints upon thy neti pot. Only a shadow of thyself, stretching out with the day, on the couch, zapper clutched tight in one pale hand while guzzling mugs of green tea like shots of tequila with the other.

The next few days would certainly ring brighter. But, alas, I awake slack-jawed with energy zapped. Now rapid-fire sneezing and nasal congestion appear. I try to sleep it off.

Then darkness swallows all hope as a shiver slices thy core. I tunnel deep within the tangled sheets, tossing then turning to Web MD – How to sleep with a fever. Reduced to a mouth-breather, I check off thy list until the corners’ of thy cracked lips curl in a smile.

Nasal strips. Duh!

I dash to the bathroom to see if drawers contain the desired breathing implement. Aha! I apply it to nose’s bridge and can instantly breathe. Oh, the relief and sanguine bliss and scent of flowers and sunshine and… then I notice thy reflection which resembles a prizefighter after losing the prize. What if my nose sticks like that?

I quiet down for a long midwinter’s nap, snoozing for two hours at a time. By morning, the fever has fizzled. Yes! My expectations fly away with my imagination. I would rest, then go running tomorrow and then write, then replenish thy refrigerator, and then… I dragged through another day.

I curse thy pharmacist. How dare she send me away since thy flu shot was almost in hand (or arm) and with such a lame excuse. Something about anti-cancer drugs suppressing thy immune system and not giving anyone a shot who had double boobectomies. Never before have I beset such an outrage. Instead of smiling and leaving, I should have explained, “I only had one bad boob!” Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

And here am I, a mere shell of thyself, crawling with legs splayed sideways, skittering from bed to couch to chair, always hiding, the light too bright still.

Oh, when, doth midwinter’s cold end? Hack, cough, spit.

It better be soon, dammit. Snow’s in the forecast and there are wild rides to be had.

Did you get your flu shot? It’s not too late. When I’m well, I’m demanding one.

I drew Midwinter’s Cold as I imagined it when I wrote this poem. Yes, thy mind is a very scary place.

Holiday Overachiever Meets Christmas Disasters

Like most of you, the holidays require time for planning, cooking, baking, shopping and celebrations. I add drawing illustrations to that list. No matter how organized, there’s never enough time and mistakes can be made. Add four birthdays to the Lindau mix and my Type-A, overachiever, perfectionism is really tested. But that doesn’t stop me from setting lofty goals. Nope.

illustrated christmas cards

Looking back on November, I can’t believe I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I knew I wouldn’t write 50,000 words like I did in 2014. I didn’t need to. My new book is almost done, but I signed up for the camaraderie and the word counter. Still, I thought I would write at least 20,000 words to hit my own 50,000 word mark. I was dreaming. I fell 4,500 short of that wimpy goal. I guilted out day-after-day over Thanksgiving for not carving out a little time to write. Then I faced that whiney voice head on and turned it off. I spent time with my family.

After taking my mom and brother to the airport and helping my sister with her paintings for a show, I finally sat down at 7:00 Monday night. The house was quiet. My husband, Danny, watched the Packer game in the other room. I planned to catch up with blogging. It would be nice to sit back and relax for the next few days.

Then it hit me.

IT WAS CYBER MONDAY! December 1st would arrive on Thursday! I scrambled to click on deals until Amazon read, AAmmaazzoonn and my credit card was maxed out. Not really, but I got a lot of shopping done.

The next day, I made a list.

  1. Decorate the house.
  2. Prepare for a holiday party.
  3. Bake cakes and cookies.
  4. Draw the family Christmas card.
  5. Shop for everyone.
  6. Wrap presents before Christmas Eve.
  7. Keep up with writing projects.

At the end of every holiday season, I take pictures of my decorations to make it easier for the next. The following year, I never look at them. I’d rather try something different. Decorating a couple of Christmas trees and evergreen swags which hang on almost every surface, then setting up several tablescapes should be easy. (In other words four solid days of work, at least.)

Fifteen years ago, Danny and I hosted a humongous Christmas party for a few hundred guests. I made ninety-three different delectable dishes, sweets and treats. Ninety-three! I kept the list. I told you I was Type-A, I mean OCD. That stands for Obsessive Christmas Decorator, right? The inside of the house was trimmed from stem to stern. The outdoor decorations made Boulder’s Top Twenty list. I splurged on a velvet Ralph Lauren dress complete with a train. I hired help to pass out appetizers. It would be elegant.

gorgeous dining room christmas

Over-achieving had reached new heights. I planned the perfect holiday party. I hadn’t learned the fact that no matter how you fantasize about an event, it never turns out remotely close to your imagination.

A few flakes floated down adding to the Kincaid Christmas card mood. It kept snowing. The snow blew and drifts rose toward the windows. It didn’t stop until the next day. More than half the guests didn’t make it because of impassible roads. Someone tracked mud through the house from the garage. The kitchen, which is the focal point of my house, was trashed sometime during the second hour of the party. Unwashed dishes and containers littered the streaky counters. I tripped on my train all night and considered cutting it off. Some of the hors d’oevres, which took hours and hours to make, were never served on trays. My heart sunk when I found all of them in the refrigerator the next day. That was the last big Christmas party we hosted.

After that fiasco, I entertained my tennis friends with a ladies sit luncheon. It started with a very small group of five. Over the next few years the guest list grew. The last time I hosted the event, I invited seventy! Only half of them showed up. Key words, “The last time I hosted.”

I had a weak moment in November and we will brave entertaining again, inviting people who have kept in touch through the years along with some new friends. The last two nights,  I woke up in a cold sweat wondering how I’ll pull it off without a caterer. I’m relying on my old mantra: “You got this. You can do it.” I’m trying not to fantasize. Nothing will be served on trays. My new dress won’t have a train. My family is helping with the party. I’ll be “dancing for drought” before the party, just in case.

After brushing off my dusty cookbooks, I listed the dishes to prepare for the party. Cakes, breads, and my favorite cookies will be baked and frozen. I hope they don’t disappear before the holidays. I’ve developed a bigger sweet tooth than Danny!

My Christmas card will be tackled early. The first time I made a popup version, they were so complicated, each one took more than ten minutes to paste together. I missed two holiday parties to finish them. That didn’t stop me from continuing the popup time suck over the last few years.

pieces and parts of card diy

This year, I will create an old-fashioned illustrated card. (See card below from 2008.) No bells. No whistles. No pull outs. Just one fold down the middle. I hope. Okay, so if I do something remotely popup this year, take away my scissors next year. Please!

I still have lots of time before Christmas to shop for presents. Ordering online makes shopping so easy. I had a brilliant idea to wrap gifts as they are delivered or bought. Ha! That would be a Christmas miracle.

illustrated christmas card 06

So how will I balance my writing life through the holidays? I won’t. I wrote a new chapter yesterday and then studied my planner. There’s no way I’ll finish everything on time for the holidays with a 1000 word per day goal. It’s time to cut back, relax, and enjoy a season that only comes around once a year.

The most important thing? No matter how I plan, I’ll remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. “Do you hear that right side?” asks the left side of my brain.

illustration of boy and girl fighting

I’ll do my best and will enjoy the holidays like a normal person. What’s that like? I have no idea. I’ll let you know in January.

 

I have a gift for you! I’m hosting The #Blessed Project until December 17th. Blog a #Blessed Project list and I’ll feature your post on December 19th. Check out the details here. No matter how the holidays turn out, I’ve been blessed by having family and friends like you!

What could go wrong if I stick with my plan? Are you a holiday over-achiever?

Singing my tune at Clay’s!

220px-Carole_King_-_TapestryLast Tuesday at Making the Days Count, I shared a little irony about the first record I bought. No, it’s not Carole King’s Tapestry, although my hair looked like that for a while. Stop by and check out what I used to illustrate at the VA Hospital and how six degrees of separation can become one. Read more…