Aug 082013
 

C’mon Charles … quit pulling your punches. Tell us how you really feel without going all PC on me.

“I say, let my children have music … rid this society of some of the noise so that those who have ears will be able to use them someplace listening to good music.”

— Charles Mingus, from his liner notes for Let My Children Hear Music.

 

Oh, yeah. Vintage Mingus, for your listening pleasure:

Haitian Fight Song (That’s one scary album cover).

 


Tensions (He’d make coffee nervous).

 

# # #

 

 

 

Aug 072013
 

Stop me if you’ve lived this before.

My personal bucket list is insanely full. I feel like Roy Scheider in the movie Jaws when he told Robert Shaw, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Like the shark hunters, I tend to take on a whole lot more than I can actually do.

But then, that’s part of this creativity thing. I want to do everything, and in more than one discipline.

Some of the items on my bucket list (2013 version) are more viable than others, and some are pure fantasy:

  • Write and self-publish some fiction.
  • Pitch and land some freelance magazine work.
  • Be in a position where I can phase out my relatively low-paying Web content writing.
  • Land some local (or not) freelance clients.
  • Start a podcast based on the principles laid out in creative&dangerous.
  • Start coaching, again based on this blog.
  • Start a mastermind group, again based on the same idea as the last two items.
  • Build a telecourse, another creative&dangerous-based project.
  • Get the ebook writing on a reliable paying basis, enough to cover my simple financial needs all by themselves.
  • Assemble a new, custom Linux system from scratch, built from my own specifications.
  • Record a full-length album built from my own musical ideas.
  • Learn and master the tenor saxophone.
  • Through-hike the Appalachian Trail.
  • Make a four-corners trip around the United States, driving and camping my way across, stopping at any place that sounds interesting.
  • Pee in all 50 states. (For the record, I’m about halfway there.)
  • Tame my bipolar illness to the point I’m almost functional most of the time.

Wow. That’s a lot of stuff.

No wonder I feel so overwhelmed, and I bring that on myself.

But here’s the thing. God willing and the crick don’t rise, I have time. Based on my age, health and heredity, I’ll have about 20 years to do this. I don’t expect to start losing my marbles until I’m about 75 or so (just shut up).

 

Batting averages and the Mendoza Line

But this bucket list is extensive to the point where I’ve stopped sharing these ambitions with my parents. In fact, I hope they’re not reading this now. They’ll think I’m even more dysfunctional than I already am.

See, of these 16 items, I’ve accomplished none of them. If this was baseball, I’m batting .000.

However, I’m close enough to accomplishing two of them. Close enough to call it soup yet. Batting average: .125, well below the Mendoza Line.

I’ve actually started two others, for a batting average of .250. That’s enough to land me a seat on the bench even though I’ll get splinters in my butt.

OK, that’s the stuff I’ve started. Of the rest, I’ve done enough to get my feet wet on three and roughed out a game plan on another six.

But these don’t count. These nine are still in the dreaming phase, though it’s a little more fine-tuned. I haven’t committed anything, though. With those nine I’m still taking my brains out and playing with them, or whatever metaphor you choose to insert here.

Improvement breeds improvement

To be honest, it hasn’t been but a year or so that I actually got around to completing stuff. To wit: Completing an ebook, starting a blog that has an actual theme, taking a short hike on the Appalachian Trail, finishing a first draft on some fiction without getting so disgusted with my work that I burn the manuscript in a trash barrel.

If you asked me if I intentionally completed anything before that, I’d have to sit down and think about it real hard.

That’s an improvement anyway. Baby steps, man. Baby steps.

I mentioned the four items I’ve actually started and the fact I’m close enough to completion on two of them to almost call them done.

Maybe in the last couple of years I’ve sprouted a sufficient enough pair (don’t ask) to actually see things through.

But still, most of this bucket list is still dreaming.

The power of just starting

OK, I’m almost done with the self-absorbed crap. I’ve wasted about 675 words on that.

Here’s the thing. Assuming I’m at least reasonably functional, a major key to realizing any of these dreams is in taking action.

That’s it. Just starting.

Plus, realizing that whatever I do isn’t going to be perfect no matter how long I tinker with it, but that’s another post for another day.

  • Just. Start.
  • Develop some realism of what I can and can’t do, and what dreams are serious enough for me to expend some effort to complete them.
  • Don’t try to start everything at once or nothing will get done. Stick some aside in a queue, revisit them once a year, finish one action item at a time and holler next.
  • Have maybe two active items from the bucket list, one in the works and one on deck. Two, not four like I’m doing now, and just plain start. I’ve got time.

The last few principles are kind of like the Dave Ramsey method of wiping out your debts. Start with the smallest, easiest one, build your confidence and momentum, and work from there. While I like giant steps as much as the next fella, save those for when you can smell the finish line. You’ll need them then because those last few steps can get pretty hairy. Until then, baby steps are sufficient.

start button

Starting is the biggest part of the battle. (Photo by Eric Pulsifer)

That idea of just starting isn’t exactly new, but it’s important nonetheless. David Allen, he of Getting Things Done, teaches this. For each project in your system, designate something — anything — as a Next Action. It could be as insignificant as making a phone call, but let’s get this thing rolling. Start on your Next Action.

Starting is the biggest part of the battle.

Maybe my time frame still lacks some realism, but by just starting — and completing — an arbitrary two in a year it won’t take long to nail this list.

Don’t want to put too much pressure on, though. None of these are exactly time sensitive, and even if they were, blowing a deadline won’t kill me. I mean, in another 50 years I’m not gonna notice the difference anyway.

With very few exceptions, these listed items are for fun. I can only see one that’s an absolute must-do and it’s started and ongoing. Because it’s ongoing and more a process than a goal, I didn’t include that on my two-per-year list. I may have one or two others that are almost must-dos, but they’re probably not as crucial as I try to make them.

Maybe that’s another key to finishing stuff. It’s supposed to be fun and/or profitable. Preferably both.

 

Sometimes you have to let something go

Just for grins, let’s add one more principle:

  • I mentioned revisiting the list every year or so. If an item has been sitting there way too long, it probably means I don’t have enough fire in my belly to start or finish it. Either start today and ship it, or let it go. Something about getting off the pot.

Maybe pick it up later if I still have any desire for it, but get it out of the queue. Right now. But that’s hard. To my (warped) way of thinking, abandoning something is tantamount to quitting, of admitting defeat. I’m just not wired that way. Real men don’t quit. If you think finishing something is hard, try letting it go. You’ll see what I mean.

On my list, one sat there for 40 years. Fortunately, it’s one of the two that’s nearing completion. Five others were on the list for a decade, but a couple are still doable and/or worth doing. Three more sat on the list five years ago. OK, so maybe I’m not real good at eating my own dog food, but you get the idea.

Save the unformed dreams for later. Barring the unforeseen, there’s still time.

# # #

What say you? How are you on starting stuff? How about finishing once you start? Can you take unrealistic dreams out of your bucket without feeling like a quitter? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Jun 192013
 

I thought this was kind of interesting. Found it on Quora.

This great quote came from a conversation between Albert Einstein and music educator/historian Shinichi Suzuki, who founded the Suzuki method of teaching music:

“The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception”

~Shinichi Suzuki, 1969, from ‘Nurtured by Love: A New Approach to Education.”

So you thought you were just a ne’er-do-well because you’re up playing that guitar at 3 a.m.? Guess again.

# # #

Mar 212013
 

As promised, here’s Part 2 of the sneak preview from my upcoming ebook, “Will Work For Exposure.) I already warned you, this is a first draft, so any real readability is by pure luck. But the message is valid.

* * *

(Last seen: A fallen body at Pete’s transmission shop. Let’s pick it up from there:)

Transmissions are one thing. They’re tangible objects, and you can put a price tag on them pretty easily. Even the labor costs, which are figured out per hour, are tangible. Besides, Pete’s still got that wrench, matted over with hair and blood, so he’s used to getting his price.

Other people get asked to work for free all the time. You’ve heard of doctors being stopped in the grocery store, asked to diagnose some mysterious pain by the rutabagas. It’s almost a joke. Lawyers get uninvited guests at the coffee shop asking about some legal opinion. And if you’re somebody in your field, you know someone will ask you out for coffee (he might even buy, but don’t bet on it) and “pick your brains” a little bit.

Consulting for free. Wonderful.

But most doctors and lawyers and industry chiefs will resist such overtures, knowing there’s nothing in it for them but the bonhomie.

Artists of all kinds, though, get those same non-offers. Unlike doctors and lawyers, many will jump at the chance. They’ll take it, drooling.

Ever been asked to work for exposure?

How about for a chance to prove yourself?

Maybe it’s on a Web site that will pay you if enough people view the page, or if enough people click on the ads on your page?

They’ll swear they’re doing you a favor.

Or even say it’s all a part of paying your dues.

Or even if a job actually pays, it’ll be at some laughable rate that’s a fraction of what it once was. Or the job will suddenly grow while the pay remains the same.

There are a lot of cheap essobees out there, looking to get something for nothing. That’s a fact of life. But many writers, musicians and artists would gladly take such a generous offer. Thank you, may I have another?

If you write, you may have noticed how much the rates have softened over the past decade. Industry standard used to be $1 per word. Even my first newspaper job, as a stringer for a struggling weekly that would be sold a year later, paid a little more than $1 per column inch, which was about 35 words. But that was 30 years ago, and that stacks up to about two cents per word. Many online companies pay less than that (and say they’re being extremely generous in doing so). Even the biggest Web content provider pays the princely sum of about a nickel a word, and they vet their writers thoroughly. Obviously something’s wrong with this picture.

I’m a fulltime writer and sometime musician, and 100% professional at both. I’ve paid my dues, I’ve stupidly taken such offers. Playing a whole weekend for free. Writing at rock-bottom rates. Even wrote for clips and exposure, as if writing for that particular forum would actually help my career or something.

Here’s my challenge. Read this ebook. Enjoy the war stories. Perhaps learn something. Find out your own true value, and stick to it.

My reasons are somewhat selfish. If people get used to paying you professional rates, it’ll help me. As long as writers are willing to write for nothing, it weakens my own push for honest payment.

In the meantime, learn something about the games people will play to avoid paying you. Some sound good on the surface, but they’re traps. I’ll walk you through a few minefields, and let’s hope they’re not too familiar to you.

(mtk)

# # #

 

Mar 202013
 
Wrench-wielding maniac

“Mr. Pete, sir, please put that wrench down.” You know this is going to end badly.

This week I’m going to do something different. I’m going to cheat a bit.

Instead of the usual 3 graffs during the week and a longer post on Friday, let’s shake this thing up a bit.

I’m working on my next ebook, Will Work For Exposure. I’m probably halfway done with the first draft, and I should have the draft comppleted early next month (with a break for a week-long hiking trip).

This week, I’m going to post some excerpts.

I must warn you, they’ll stink out the joint. These are first drafts, and first drafts always reek. If these are anything like the final product, it means I’m not much of an editor. Most of writing is rewriting.

So here’s the first of three excerpts, errors intact, no editing, written in a high-octane espresso-fueled manic frenzy, in all its tainted glory.

Still, there’s some meat there. Enjoy. Comment if you like; let me know if I’m on the right track.

Just don’t look too closely.

* * *

A bitter argument broke up my old band, and I was the chief provocateur. Someone had to do it.

We had an offer to play once a week in a local bar, a visible gig in a beach town’s most sought-after venue. If not a captive audience, this place had a lot of foot traffic anyway. It was in the bar of the nicest hotel in town. What’s not to love about it?

We fell apart at the price.

“It’s for exposure,” our lead vocalist told us. The other guitarists and our young fiddle player nodded. Exposure, yes. That’s fine.

Then I opened my mouth. “Count me out, guys.”

They wanted to know what my problem was. We’ve played freebies in veterans’ halls, at benefits and at a senior center. But to me, this was a whole different animal.

“This isn’t like playing a benefit,” I said. “This hotel isn’t a nonprofit. This is the real deal, and I expect to get paid.”

Too bad. My hardline stance opened some cracks in a very solid band. We played together a few times since, but it just wasn’t the same. All of a sudden I was some flinty-eyed guy with a dollar sign stamped on his heart. We eventually fell apart.

* * *

Let’s segue here, and I’ll tell a parable. It’s a goofy one, but you’ll get the idea pretty quickly:

You just blew up your transmission. You can hear it. It started whining like you’d just run over an animal or something, then it got louder. About a half mile later you felt something let go.

Coasting now, you manage to limp your rolling wreck into Pete’s Transmission Shop. You’re nervous. You don’t know this Pete guy and you’ve never been to his shop. Shoot, you’ve never even heard of his shop. There’s a small garage there, and a couple of lifts, so you figure this is at least a step above a shade tree operation. You don’t know how much, though. All you know is that this transmission work is going to wear out the magnetic stripe on your Visa card.

Then this burly guy, who you decide is Pete because his name is on his stained khaki workshirt, listens to what’s left of your transmission. You hear him mumble something about overhauling it and he throws out a quote. Your innards clench. There’s no way you can pay the man. Your paycheck doesn’t come in until next week, and times are tight right now.

Time to negotiate. People still do that, don’t they?

“How about, you get paid when I get paid,” you offer with false bravado. Is it your imagination, or did Pete’s balding head just change color?

“You’ll do this because you love it,” you suggest again, throwing out a counter offer.

This fetches nothing but a stony look from Pete, so you try again.

“For exposure, then,” you suggest. You’re talking fast right now. “People will see your work and they’ll come in flocks.” Herds, whatever. Pete’s head is now a deep red, and you can see a vein throbbing.

“I’m just giving you a chance to prove yourself,” you suggest. “Mr. Pete, sir, please put that wrench down. Pretty please?”

(Fade to black.)

* * *

OK. That’s a stupid tale, right? there’s no such person as Pete, and if there was, no one would be dumb enough to play that kind of game with him.

Transmissions are one thing. They’re tangible objects, and you can put a price tag on them pretty easily. Even the labor costs, which are figured out per hour, are tangible. Besides, Pete’s still got that wrench, matted over with hair and blood, so he’s used to getting his price.

(mtk)

# # #

Mar 012013
 
Yes, I write with a hard hat.

Writing, in fact all creating, is hard work. Bring your lunch pail and steel-toed boots. Bring your hard hat, too. (Photo by Eric Pulsifer)

OK, I’ll admit it. I keep a messy desk. Always have. It’s a three-tiered desk with a top shelf, an elevated platform for my computer, and a lower portion. The downstairs section, well, let’s not go there. It’s crowded.

The top section is much neater. I keep mostly functional items there, but some sentimental. My reference library (dictionary, thesaurus, Writers Market, Stephen King’s On Writing, a book of jazz charts). Computer speakers. A pair of Bose speakers for my stereo. A bottle of ink (because I don’t make mistakes). Some erasers (a gift from a friend, and I keep them as a reminder that I still make mistakes). Blank CDs. A hard hat.

What?

Whoa. Let’s stop right there. A hard hat?

Shoot, I write for a living. It’s not a dangerous occupation. Not very, anyway. There’s always the risk of carpal tunnel (which I have) and an oversized bottom from desk work (not an issue with me). I haven’t needed a hard hat as a writer since my newspapering days, when I wrote the occasional article that ticked off a land developer or politician. And folks like that wouldn’t bop me over the head over something I wrote; they’d hire someone else to do it. But I digress.

The last job where I needed a hard hat was when I was ground man for a tree surgeon last summer. It wasn’t required, but I sure felt better wearing it when my coworker started cutting branches down. Most of these branches were much bigger than me and could do some damage.

It’s tough, dangerous work

The hard hat is there to remind me. Writing is work. Creating is work. Making music is work. Painting is work. Designing a new rocket or a new kitchen gadget is work. Solving problems is work.

To get anywhere I need to put in my hours. Show up. Don’t leave until I put in my time. Stay at the terminal and write. Grind it out. No leaving early, even though the only boss I’m cheating is myself.

My progress may be nothing spectacular. I will have my moments where words fly from my fingers, I get them down as fast as I think them, and every one sings. When I can get 1,500 words down without taking a break to sit down. Those times happen, and that’s when it gets fun. Inspiration is right there with me.

Much of the time, though, that’s not how it goes. I park myself at the terminal with several cups of coffee coursing through my system, and it takes a few minutes to get started. Some days I struggle to get the words out. At best the ideas are partially formed, and whipping them into writing shape takes work. I may have a pile of notes (accounting for the mess downstairs on the desk), but none of it is ready for human consumption.

It’s so easy to wake up and tell myself I’m not at my best today, the Muse is out bothering someone else, and every word is going to be a struggle.

It’s such a nice day out, why don’t I go on a long hike and forget work for a day?

Maybe call some friends, go out for lunch, or just sit down and read that novel I’d been putting off.

You know the deal. No one’s there to hold me to my work. What’s the harm of taking off? I’ll get to the writing when I get to it. When I get inspired.

Doesn’t work that way. This is a job. Dirty sweaty work, hard on the hands and hard on the brain. Just like dragging tree limbs out of the way, just like working at some steel mill or cubicle farm. The only thing missing is a constantly-hectoring straw boss.

Does inspiration really matter?

Thankfully, my years in newspaper work helped instill this hard-hat mindset. Inspiration comes and goes, but the deadline is always there.

A newsroom isn’t always the most conducive environment to writing, either. Phones ringing, me having to raise a source for another quote, the other reporters making phone calls and tapping away at their computers, bad coffee and lots of cigarettes going, the ad sales crew filtering in and out of the newsroom making suggestions, the editor racking his shotgun. Either he’s defending our turf from ad folks or enforcing my deadline, pick one.

Forget inspiration at this point. I’m thinking of survival. I’m thinking about the story.

I don’t know what it’s like now. I haven’t set foot in a newsroom in 15 years. The smoke has been eliminated, but I’ll bet the coffee is still bad and the ad crew still has a terrible sense of direction. Give them a GPS, OK? But I’ll wager newsrooms are still not the perfect writing environment, and not the kind of place the Muse hangs out in unless the troops are working hard.

As I write this now, I’m going pretty good. On a roll, actually. Don’t know if I’m nicely warmed up and in a groove or if the Muse made an appearance.

Doesn’t matter.

Really, it doesn’t.

Often the adrenaline (and a strong espresso blend) is enough to pour the words out.

I’ll repeat that one point: Whether the Muse shows up doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. I just need to show up. Ready to work, with the hard hat and all.

# # #

Jan 182013
 

Stepping out of the comfort zone puts you squarely in the combat zone.

It’s that classic scene in just about every war movie you’ve ever seen, to the point of cliche. You’ve got a bunch of green recruits cowering in a foxhole with all this artillery going off in the background.

To make a proper war movie this foxhole crowd is a cross section of America. Got the Italian guy. Got the Pole from Chicago, a black, a Navajo, a Southerner, maybe even a surfer dude from California. They’re all there in one crowded foxhole with the gunnery sergent/den mother.

Finally one of them speaks up. “Sarge, I’m s-s-scared.”

Picture this. The salty old Gunny, with all the gunk on his face and greenery on his helmet, speaks up without taking the unlit cigar from his mouth.

“So you’re scared?” he askes in those tones that could only come from Brooklyn (told you this was a cliche). A pause as he shifts his cigar to the other side of his mouth a la Clint Eastwood. “Kid, I’m scared too. I’m always scared.”

There it is.

My better instincts tell me he’s just dumping a lot of snow on his troops, trying to boost morale, but that’s probably not the case. Forgetting it’s a movie for a minute, the Gunny knows there’s a lot at stake. There’s a war going on, and the losers don’t live to tell about it. But in the movies, the worst that could happen is the Gunny gets panned for overacting, the movie tanks at the box office, and he plays nothing but commanding officers in war movies for the rest of his life. Or something.

Leaving the movie and going into real life, there’s a lot to be scared of when you create something. Especially because you’re going out on a limb with nothing but your judgment holding you up.

Every time I write a blog post, I get scared. What if no one reads it? What if people do read it and think it stinks? What if I tick off half my readership? What if they call BS on me in the comments section?

What if I just hear the chirruping of crickets?

Monsters in the closet and laughing manuscripts

There’s that fear of rejection. Every time I submit a piece there’s that misgiving. The editor doesn’t like it. It stinks. Or I’m just barking up the wrong tree and it will take an extensive rewrite to make it passable for my client’s purposes.

I have one of those on my terminal right now, an article I wrote that completely missed what the editor was thinking (mind reading is not one of my strengths) and I’m just staring at it now. It came back to me with a ton of annotations. When I pick at it, I know in my heart it’ll be every bit as bad as the original. It’s just a small, 500-word article for a website with a limited audience, but I can’t get rid of the feeling that my whole career hangs in the balance here. Never mind any past success, never mind the other, better-paying stories I’m pitching right now, this is the article that sits on my screen laughing at me and telling me what a hack I truly am.

Even when things go well, there are still enough fears to disturb me. What if this post you’re reading goes viral, millions read it and subscribe to this blog? What if they expect more of the same on my next post? What if that’s the absolute best I can do and any future efforts get compared to it? What if I fall flat?

I don’t have any stats to back me up, but the creative landscape is littered with the corpses of artists who were an overnight success and couldn’t sustain it. That second novel, that second album was a bunch of garbage and no one bought it. Career over.

Elizabeth Gilbert can tell you about it. In a highly-recommended TED talk a couple of years ago she spoke of the “freakish success” of her book, “Eat Pray Love.”

“People treat me like I’m doomed,” she said. “Doomed.” The success of that book forced her to recalibrate how she looks at things. What if she can’t sustain her career?

“It’s exceedingly likely my greatest success is behind me,” she said. And she wasn’t quite 40 when she wrote that monster bestseller.

Shoot, it’s enough to make a creative want to pour Jack Daniels over his Wheaties in the morning.

By the way, I highly recommend checking out Gilbert’s talk. You can grab it here. I’ve saved it on my cell phone, and when I get to questioning the course of my life and mission I’ll play it.

Out of the foxhole

When you’re creating, you’re going places where you’ve never been before. You’re stepping out of your foxhole and going someplace where you just may get your butt shot off. There’s really no neutral zone; you’re either in your comfort zone or in the combat zone.

If you tote around a lot of fear and anxiety there’s a lot of stuff to feed it.

Let me be blunt here. If you write, if you play music, if you stake a lot of pride and capital on an idea of yours, there’s nothing safe about it. If you’re honest about it, you’re scared spitless half the time.

Years ago, my shrink tried to lay a little cognitive therapy on me, urging me to change my thinking a bit. Part of it is asking myself in the face of fear, what is the worst that can happen?

Dunno. I have a lot of imagination. It’s probably the worst question to ask a person with a creative mind.

Even with all that, I try to soldier on. I try to laugh outwardly at these fears. On my writing.com bio page, I list my hobbies: Reading, music, hiking, collecting rejection slips. I’ve posted photos of my rejections pile on this blog. I tell myself it’s just a part of writing, I shouldn’t take any of this personally, that it happens to the best of ’em. Sometimes I actually believe this.

Then get back to work like a real professional and test the bounds of gravity some more.

###

 

 

 

Jan 082013
 

Here’s a question for you: Can you forget that dream without any consequences?

Trust me. I’ve tried. When I walked away from writing I hoped it would quit bugging me eventually. Every time I looked at a newspaper I missed the business, and it got worse instead of better.

Tear that dream, that calling away from the heavily committed, and you’re going to get lots of blood and pain. Guaranteed.

###

Jan 042013
 

I’d written about peak hours before, and I guess it must be a hot topic in some circles. Folks are always trying to squeeze more productivity out of their days, and playing with the body clock seems to be the favorite way of doing this.

More sleep? Less sleep? Uninterrupted or multiphasic sleep?

Start your day doing little, easy-to-do things or tackle that big job you’d rather not think about first?

Is it true that if you burn the candle at both ends you get more light?

Is my brain really more creative when I’m tired? And why won’t my brain shut up at night?

Everyone’s got an opinion there.

I found this infographic from HealthCentral (and some other perspectives by Ridiculously Efficient) a few days ago, and it’s interesting. I’ve pasted it here so you can have a look at it, and myself being one who keeps his opinions to himself (why is my nose growing?) I’ll have some observations here.

Accomplish more in a day by synchronizing your cicardian rhythms

One of the things that caught my attention is the assertion that most people keep a similar natural timeline — like about 80 or 90 percent. This suggests most so-called night people are that way by choice.

I noticed this because I’d always gravitated toward night work. I did a lot of nightside reporting back in the day, spent a lot of late nights playing music, and even most of my so-called day jobs (cab driving, casino work) were at night. But was it me, or was there some other attraction?

OK. Maybe the pay was better, the boss more easygoing, the clientele livelier and the girls prettier at night. But as I got older, I found myself going more toward days. Most of the time (except those times my overactive brain keeps going) I’m usually in bed by 11, like an old fart. Even New Years Eve — a time when most people are out howling — I struggled to keep my eyes open while waiting for the ball to drop. 2013 almost started without me. Man, did I feel ancient.

I’ve also noticed how, on this infographic timeline, the creative process kicks in at around 8 p.m. This in itself is interesting. Fatigue seems to kick-start the process, according to HealthCentral.

I do see evidence of this. At around 8-ish I’ve usually had dinner, my computer is shut down, and I’m chilled out in the recliner, some heavy jazz playing on the Bose, and my mind goes all over the landscape. I usually spend that time with a clipboard in my lap, slamming down ideas as fast as I get them. That’s also when I write my crappiest but most imaginative first drafts and do my wildest brainstorming. Sometimes my bipolar brain won’t shut up, so I gearing down and getting to bed at a decent time is an issue. This does cut into my beauty (!) sleep.

A couple of other things I noticed:

  • A person is more easily distracted from about noon to 4 p.m. (For me, true.)
  • A power nap at 2-ish is good for the body. Maybe it’s encroaching geezerhood, but I find I do this more often than not.
  • But while the brain is easily distracted in the early afternoon, hand-eye coordination peaks around 3-ish. Interesting.
  • Cognition is at its best in the late morning. (For me, also true.)
  • A hot shower is recommended in the morning, because it’ll warm the body and make you more alert. That’s the claim, anyway. I do know my body thinks it’s a Ford because it doesn’t start well when it’s cold.
  • Email sent out before 9 a.m. is most likely to be read. I do have to challenge this, but that’s because very little of my correspondence stays within the Eastern Standard Time zone.
  • For social media junkies, 8 a.m. tweets are the most upbeat and those sent out in the late afternoon are most likely to be retweeted. Facebook status messages sent out at 8 p.m. are the most “liked” (again not accounting for time zones), and a person who builds his whole day around a social media schedule is probably addicted.

Or something.

This whole thing is interesting, but probably not a be-all end-all. Will my habits change because of this infographic? Of course not. I’m not even sure if this infographic is based on hard science or wishful thinking, and even if it was hard science we’ve all got our own peak times anyway.

I think my own biggest take-home is how the brain runs rampant when the body’s tired, but that’s something I’ve suspected anyway.

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