When Fun Looks A Lot Like Work


Table Mouse by TET
Lately I've not been able to get a lot done in the way of my own creative projects because many of them require too much time and some kind of lead in to get excited about them. Which I imagine sounds some what peculiar to you and you may be wondering why I can't be excited about my own projects right from the get go?

Most creative projects are about 5% inspiration and 95% work. That 5% is the really fun bit. It's getting the idea. Some of you reading this find the idea stage the hard part. Not me. I get ideas for things even when I'm not trying to come up with ideas. The only trouble I have is knowing which ideas are worth turning into an actual project.

The other 95% is the work to bring an idea to full realization. It doesn't matter what you do, even if you enjoy doing it, some days it just feels like work. More so if what you do for yourself for fun is also what you get paid to do for other people as well. The line becomes blurred and eventually it all feels like work.

Which is why I often need some kind of lead in to get excited about working on my own projects. It's like trying to jump hurdles in your mind until you get to the point where you realize that what you're doing isn't actually work. This is what you've been wanting to do for weeks but haven't had the time for. This work is the 'fun' work even though it looks rather a lot like the 'work' work.

Then you get on a roll with your project. It's challenging. You're working things out. Pieces start coming together and... life happens. A client will contact you and need some work doing, you'll be needed elsewhere by family or that group you volunteer for will need your help. Suddenly the momentum you had on your project is lost again.

The longer it takes to get back to your project the harder it is to find momentum again. Currently I have a lot of projects like that. They've been sitting around waiting for me to get back to them. Some have been sitting around for years.

I'm trying very hard to get back to them and trying to avoid starting anything new. Projects are very easy to start. New projects are always attractive because they haven't hit any hurdles yet that feel like work.

Ultimately I'm probably just making excuses for myself. I should just suck it up and get back to work on any of my projects. Just pick one and see it through as far as I can until the next time life happens.

It's probably the only way to get things done.


They Don't Hire Astronauts in the Job Vacancy Ads

Several years ago I wrote an short essay titled 'Some People Dream of Becoming Astronauts' as a response to the soul crushing experience that is Job Network Agencies.

In Australia, long term unemployed people are pushed through these agencies and encouraged to get any job they can. It kind of makes sense because you can't afford to be choosy when you've been out of work for months and have bills to pay.

However most people have bigger dreams to do something more meaningful with their lives. Not necessarily world changing but meaningful to them. It struck me that those people would be better served by having someone help them to become 'astronauts' - as a metaphor for a more meaningful life that's going to require effort to achieve.

It's maybe not the Job Agency's place to be that 'someone' but they certainly have access to resources and training options (and sometimes even funding) that can point many people in the right direction. To get that start towards a more meaningful life.

The video below has been doing the rounds of late. It talks about this very issue of working out what it is you really want to do with your life and then focus yourself on doing that. Watch the video and then read on...



Initially you may be skeptical and you may even highlight how this video tells you not to focus on the money, causing you to dismiss the whole thing as fanciful. If that's you then you missed the point and really need to listen and watch again.

The point is that in order to lead a meaningful life you have to focus on what it is you want to do rather than focus on earning money. Having money is like fame, or being famous, it's a by product of what you do and not a goal to be aspired to in its self.

Meaningful lives take effort, time, commitment, dedication and... money. I know, exactly your point, right? You can't just drop everything and pursue a meaningful life without money.

When you're just starting out on this revelation to live a more meaningful life doing what you want to do, you're probably not going to just quit your boring day job but you will eventually.

As you become more knowledgeable and experienced with doing whatever it is you do that's going to become a commodity to others wanting to do the same thing. You'll eventually be able to put a dollar value on your time and knowledge that you can charge people to access it. Just like your employer in your boring day job has already. Your employer pays you for your time and knowledge of the job you've been hired to do.

Your goal is to find that path that helps you transition from what you don't really want to do to something that you do and have people pay you for it. Not necessarily paying you a fortune but enough so you can at least keep doing what it is you enjoy.

Your dream may not even be as hard as becoming an astronaut. Some people live great and meaningful lives being the best at skateboarding, Surfing, writing, being a member of a rock band. None of these are fanciful ideas. If you want to climb mountains there is a way to earn money doing it.

After all, you can be successful at anything if you're dedicated to making that success happen. A more meaningful life is not as unattainable as you might think.

I've Stopped Buying Music.

The following post is a comment I left in response to a Mashable post, Why Are People Still Buying CDs? by Todd Wasserman.

I've stopped buying music, full stop (with one exception). I used to be a collector of music and would look forward to buying CDs of favorite songs as well as trying out the full albums of bands that seemed to consistently appear on my radar. I must be one of the few that enjoys buying a band's album not knowing if I'll like the songs that weren't singles. I haven't bought a CD in years with one exception... David Bowie can put out a CD and I'll buy it - don't even need to listen to the songs prior to purchase.

I grew up with Bowie but all the other music it was fun to collect bits and pieces of bands from here and there as they drift in an out of view.

For some reason I stopped buying CDs and collecting music as a tangible product. Other priorities I guess [or maybe because they stopped selling CD singles where you could sample 'B sides' and non album release versions of songs?]. 

The idea of paying to download music has no appeal to me. Curating my own 'cloud' of music just isn't the same as collecting CD's. All you can say is "I've got that song" and the immediacy and cheapness of it gives no sense of excitement to owning a copy. Downloads especially have ruined the concept album where cover art and book inserts are part of the experience.

Owning music is no longer the experience it was. In many ways it's gone the way of photography where the photos you took used to be more considered because it would cost to get them developed. Now you can take a picture of your lunch, before, during and after as well as what they're eating over there, the waiter, the view etc. All images that you'll forget once you've shown them to people... if you even remember to do that.

I listen to podcasts now because they're mostly free and once you've listened to them you can delete them. Music is all around us anyway. I'm happy to leave my music on the radio and maybe watch the occasional music video clip on Youtube. I don't really need to own it... except for Bowie of course.

New Software Blues - Forgetting What You've Learnt

Serif DrawPlus X5
Image: Serif Website.
There was a time when I could skim through a manual for virtually any application software in the space of a weekend and that would be all I'd need to find my way around the program from then on.

There was even a time when I could work out applications based on my previous experience of using similar software.

Whilst those days aren't completely gone I'm finding it harder and harder to learn new software simply because the software can do so much more than it used to.

For example, I got very used to using Corel Draw 8 and the suite of tools that came with it back in 1995. I learnt to use it over the space of a weekend so I could complete a large commission I was working on for a client.

I'm from the school of if it does the job then don't upgrade. Corel Draw 8 has done the job I need it for well for nearly 15 years. Plus I don't like spending money unnecessarily on upgrades - I just don't buy into the whole concept of computer software and hardware being obsolete from the moment it's released.

However after 15 years, even I can see there's a need to upgrade so I did. I went with Serif Draw X5 because it worked with my graphics tablet and because it was far  cheaper than an upgrade to Corel Draw X6.

The problem is I seem to be really struggling with learning it. Sure I know the very basics. The common features that most drawing programs have such as the Pen and Pencil tools, how to adjust line widths and change colours etc. It's all the advanced stuff that I'm struggling with.

Serif Draw X5 comes with a lot of built in context help that you can read as you draw. It has a help panel that you can keep open for a refresher of how to use any tool as you select it. Despite this I still don't seem to be able to make things stick in my brain.

I've done all the tutorial videos for the program at least twice to help out but even that isn't really working - even though the tutorials are really good with step by step examples.

It's not helping things that I've bought quite a lot of software lately and am experiencing similar problems learning them as well.

I know I'll get there eventually if I keep persevering but it's very frustrating knowing that the tools I have are the right ones for the job if only I knew how to use them confidently.

I guess the analogy I could liken it to is learning how to walk again after an accident. You know how to walk  but until you strengthen all the muscles it's going to take time to get back to where you were before.

That said, if I"m having trouble learning some of these programs, I can only imagine what difficulties someone with less experience of using application software packages must be having.


Happy New Year - 2013 Resolutions

My goals whiteboard for 2010 - most
of which didn't get done!
As it happens the first day of 2013 is my regular day to write for this blog so I thought why not just wish all my readers a very Happy New Year! May this year be your best yet for life, love and the pursuit of happiness!

Traditionally this is the time of year where I completely overlook making any New Year resolutions because you can make resolutions anytime - no need to wait for New Years.

That said, this year I've come the closest I've ever been to making an actual New Years Resolution.

I spent some of the last day of 2012 listing all the projects I have wanted to complete since 2010 and decided I'm going to get them done by the end of 2013. Sounds an awful lot like a New Years resolution doesn't it?

Some of the projects I've been wanting to get done since before 2010. They made the cut because I had them written on a white board, as part my goals list for 2010, that still sits in my garage (see the image above).

I'm not going to list any of the projects here or even promise to get them done - don't want to jinx it (whatever that really means?) but just know that I'm heading into the new year with a bunch of projects and the resolve to get them done... and there's quite a few more than just those written on my whiteboard in 2010.

To give you a general sense of what's ahead I plan to do much more painting than I have in the last three years. I hope to release at least one or two self published books. I also hope to be doing more of my own animations along side all the business ones I've been doing to earn a living.

The one thing that I plan to keep doing consistently is write for this blog and my Animation and Video blog every Tuesday and Wednesday. I consider both to be a part of my working week and essential in reminding me that I do have my own things to work on too. Clients can't always take priority. (I wouldn't have clients if I hadn't focused on my own projects and interest in animation).

So that's my 'almost' resolutions for 2013. I'm hoping this year will be one of my most prosperous yet. How about you?
Related Posts with Thumbnails