Apr 032013

I get such a kick out of my dad. He’s a quiet type who’s not given to tooting his own horn. It wasn’t until fairly recently when I realized his accomplishments and the importance of his job.

cartoon rooster

Maybe I ought to strut my stuff more. Can I do it without getting obnoxious?

I’m kind of that way, and maybe some of that is to my detriment. I’m not a promoter type. I’d rather let my work do the talking. I do love to flash my chops in all the things I do well (writing, music, tweaking computers), but when complimented I’m likely to blow it off. Pshaw, it’s nothing. Yeah, right. Nothing, my butt.

But this dislike of self-promotion gets in the way sometimes. I’m learning the necessity of marketing my work, using social media to show off, putting the word out there. Letting people know what I’m doing. While I don’t want to sound like a car salesman on late-night TV, I don’t feel like doing my work in a corner either.

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Mar 142013

It’s so easy to get sidetracked these days, what with all this cool stuff online. Facebook. Twitter. Google Plus. Building a platform. WordPress. RSS news feeds (my favorite online time-waster). Email. The list goes on and on.

I’ve taken steps to limit my dependence on these online trinkets. I shut off all push notifications and email alerts on my phone, forcing me to check maybe twice a day. I don’t mess with Facebook much, though I’m hot and heavy with Twitter. About the only thing I waste a lot of time with is that infernal news feed. Hate it. Hate it. Love it.

I don’t want to miss anything. But in doing so, I miss a lot of opportunities to actually get to work and get stuff done.

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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.



Nov 252012

I really like Quora. Of all the social media sites around, that’s the one where I spend most of my time. On Quora you ask questions and give answers, and there’s some brainy stuff going on there as well as the usual social-media Pablum.

I’m following a question someone asked recently, “What is the greatest enemy of creativity?” I’ve entered my own answer (the creator himself, through self-sabotage), but there are some other excellent answers.

This week, we’ll dip into the Quora pool for some of these answers, and we’ll dissect a few — all in 3 graffs. Shoot, there’s probably enough material there to keep me busy for a few weeks, but let’s just think about this week.

Again, I welcome comments, but until the system is fixed we might have to do that via email, eric@creativeanddangerous.com.

Join me.


Sep 192012

While you do much of your work in private, successes and goals don’t need to be. Now it’s easy to put your large and small triumphs out there; just takes a couple of seconds to post it on your favorite social media.

I’m ready. As soon as I reach today’s goal it’s going up on Twitter, Facebook and probably LinkedIn (love that Hootsuite online tool). How about something like this: @creativedanger Wrote and posted my week’s worth of 3-graffs blog entries. On a roll. #amwriting

Get brave. Sprout some guts. Do something dangerous. Meet your daily goal and let everybody know. I find these dispatches get likes and/or retweets, which is always a bonus.


Aug 112012

I know it’s all cyclical, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a rejection slip in my mailbox. Either mailbox; the snail variety or the e-type. C’mon, folks, you’re slacking off. Let’s get with the program here.

(I feel better already.)

Woke up Friday to the sound of funds hitting Paypal, truly a wonderful sound. This was for some freelance work I’d done, so I’m always OK with that. Pro or not, battle-hardened veteran or not, it always gasses me to think folks actually pay for me to do something I love. Still.

Earlier this week I wrote about trying to decompress after a heavy writing session, and we had a slightly wacky discussion about it in the Informed Ideas for Writers group on Linkedin. Although I did this screen dump Friday afternoon just as it was getting good, here’s how it went:

Now I remember why I don’t recommend trying to go to bed immediately after a heavy writing session. Body = exhausted. Brain = won’t shut up. Thoughts?


Uncle MythMan Jay Hubbard • Just let it go. The brain never shuts up anyway, just that you’re ‘coming down’ from being conscious of more of it.

Maybe it’ll reach some phenomenal conclusion that you forget by the next time you sit down to write … boo-hoo, so it goes.

Think of it as an interesting TV-show you watch; maybe you forget what happens in one particular episode; makes it that much funner to watch again in re-runs.

Your brain plays re-runs all the time, sometimes more interesting than the premiere episodes!

Eric Pulsifer • My reruns are always better than the originals, but that’s because I edit them.
Or are they worse?

Angie Mangino • My routine to quiet the mind is to DVR the TV shows I like that will take me away from my own thoughts & watch one of them with a couple of cups of green tea before bed.

Laquita Havens • So true…your mind won’t shut off…so watch some fluff..no thinking needed. Works for me.

Eric Pulsifer • Angie, Laquita, thanks. I’m usually so intense, gearing down is a little messy. I usually read and have some music playing, which sounds good, but the music is usually heavy jazz and the reading is someone like Stephen King.
Maybe I should reload and try again?

My take-home from this? Set a time and do a gradual downshift from there. Take two hours at least. Flake out in front of the TV (which is not something I do) or some light reading. Tell The Muse to take a hike and catch me in the morning.

This is one tough business, isn’t it?


Jul 312012

When I got involved with National Novel Writers Month a couple of years ago, I started paying attention to how many words I wrote every day. Then I started publicizing that.

In all my social media, I put up daily dispatches of how I did, whether good, bad or ugly. This public posting helped keep me accountable. I’ve kept that habit, and when I mention my daily writing goal (1,000 words) in this blog, it’s my way of staying accountable.

Try going public with the small, daily goals. You might find it becomes a habit.