Go slow to go fast

I haven’t posted in awhile— super busy lately. I’m working to finish the final draft of YA novel, get a brand new podcast off the ground in the next week or so, and get ready to go do a writing residency in France for the month of September! I’ve been so damn busy I started to feel overwhelmed. I wasn’t having fun anymore. So I took a couple days off and just lay around on the beach. It was fantastic and now I feel recharged!


One thing I’ve learned recently is that while it’s important to set goals it is also good to know when to adjust those goals if they are not realistic. I was pushing myself hard with my writing to finish my next book by the end of this month. But I realized as the date approached and I still had hundreds of pages to edit that this was nuts! I had set too ambitious of a goal.

It is a place that I think most of us are familiar with. If you are someone who works on creative projects ( be that writing, painting, music, theater whatever) than often the pace that you want to go at is up to you.There are two ways this can go wrong. We can either work to fast or two slow.

The most common mistake is probably to work too slow; you can just never get started. You can keep waiting and waiting for that perfect day, that perfect idea, etc. to come along. And just never push yourself to grow as a creator. I love this quote by Ira Glass about this:


 Don’t wait for permission to make something that’s interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don’t wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who’ll give you notes to make it better. Don’t wait till you’re older, or in some better job than you have now. Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.

— Ira Glass 

This is great advice. I love it. And it seems the world is full of great quotes about how you need to cowboy up, be a fucking soldier, and get it done. I agree.

But what you don’t hear enough of is sometimes you need to slow down, to take it easy, to balance out the get tough, get going stuff etc. And take it easy on yourself. And make sure you are still enjoying it. I guess this post is just a reminder to myself, and everybody else out there working on their thing: if you’re not having fun what’s the point? Take time to enjoy it, to enjoy what your working on, be patient with your art and yourself, because it does take time to make something good. Also if you are not enjoying your art what is the point? If you are in it for the money you’re better off being a corporate drone. You should enjoy the hell out of your writing or your art, your music, your comedy stand-up etc. That doesn’t mean something can’t feel like challenging work too, it should be both. It’s a balance.

There is a quote I used to hear from other teachers when I taught high school that sums it up:

Go slow to go fast.


The importance of ritual

I haven’t posted anything here for a bit, the truth is my dog died last week, and I wasn’t up for doing much of anything for a week. He was a good old boy, I’d had him for thirteen years, ever since he was a pup. His health was getting bad and it was time to say goodbye before it got any worse. Later today I am going to bury his ashes in a nearby field where we used to take walks all the time. I bet I’ve watched my dog flop down in that field and roll around over a thousand times!


My dog Grendel passing away has got me thinking about the importance of ritual. The importance of marking or doing something special to mark major occurrences in life. These things can be very tough emotionally and having a ritual helps us come to terms with the new reality. Of course they can also be celebrations. For example weddings, birthday parties, graduations, house warming parties, anniversaries, these are all rituals that we use for celebration.

I also am all for people creating their own rituals. Mainly because I think we live in a society that has lost touch with with a lot of are old traditions, and so I think it is time for us to make new ones. The reason we have lost touch with these old traditions is I think, partly just a reflection of what it means to be American. We live in a country where people came here from every other continent on earth and so a lot of the old traditions that people had got lost in the shuffle. Whether your ancestors came from Europe, Africa, or Asia, etc. Our culture is a giant melting pot. And asides from major things like weddings and funerals a lot of customs, traditions, and rituals have gotten lost in the melting.

Rituals are not logical. Rituals do not make sense. And so I think we have let go of many of them thinking they are mere “superstition”. But I am all for cultivating ritual from the smallest to the biggest. What do I mean exactly?

Well, for example my friend Fejj passed away several years ago. He was a huge fan of Jameson Whisky. The good stuff. Now, whenever I have a glass of Jameson Whisky I take a moment to remember Fejj and pour a big slug of the whisky out on the ground. On the one hand it doesn’t make much sense! Fejj can’t drink that expensive whisky! The ritual does not make logical sense. It is just my way of respecting and honoring the memory of my old friend.


Ritual is everywhere. For example handshakes are a sort of micro-ritual. I have heard that anthropologists say that kissing is not universal. Many cultures have never heard of kissing between lovers and think it is weird and gross. But what a wonderful and meaningful ritual it is to those of us who practice it!

The more we look at ritual, that is the things we do, not because they have some logical, rational point—the more we see that ritual is everywhere.

Next week I will post about how you can design your own ritual to remind you of anything or idea that you want to focus on in life.

The 12 habits of highly creative people

I haven’t been posting much lately (camping, hiking, summer etc.)


So I am reposting this list of : The 12 habits of highly creative people.

In the meantime, I have been busy working on my next book. If all goes well I’d like to finish it by he end of the summer! I will be heading to France in the fall to do a month-long writing residency, and will be starting a new project while I’m there. So, even though it appears not much is happening lately on this ol’ blog, there should be new developments coming soon, I promise!

Featured Artist NDA

An interview with the street artist NDA, who contributed to DIY Magic and also happens to be a really good friend. His work is bold and pops up everywhere, (just last week it was even featured on Chris Rock’s instagram feed). Keep an eye on this guy!


You are known for your large outdoor murals—what are some different considerations when working on such a big scale?

I think the main considerations are texture and environment. Scaling up the work from a sketch isn’t necessarily tricky by itself but you also need to be aware of each surfaces nuances. There’s a lot of on-the-fly problem solving that  goes in to it and often times you’re forced to change your idea up based on where you’re able to put the paint and where you’re not. I think another huge factor is having to work with limited resources. Often times my murals are painted with a DIY set up. This means that you’re often on ladders when scaffolding or a lift would be more ideal. So you have to assess the situation and make sure you’re not painting too high where it’ll be hard to come back and do tight line work. Early on, I would get overzealous and paint way too high with a roller and extension pole only to discover that I didn’t have a large enough ladder to reach the top for my line work and the pieces would suffer for it.

dog gold
You often collaborate with other artists. Do you have any tips on how to make a collaboration go smoothly?
I think in order for collaborations to go smoothly you have to be able to communicate with the other artist(s) every step of the way. I’ve done a fair amount of collaborating on large projects and you usually know pretty early on how it’s going to go. I feel like a good collaboration is something where all parties take risks and do something they haven’t done before. Having a set idea of what and where your stuff goes on the wall before you open a dialogue is the kiss of death for collaborative murals.
Do you have any tips or tricks for tapping into artistic creativity? Do you ever get “stuck”?
I get stuck all the time. I’m still trying to figure out methods to jostle myself back to where I want to be creatively. One thing I find helpful is to have a lot of different types of work going at once. That way if you’re bored or stuck with one project you just jump to another one. Sometimes I just get burnt out on painting. When that happens I try to take that time to plan new projects by sketching and writing down ideas. I also find that a good, long walk can help refocus my energy. I’m a fairly anxious person and recently I’ve been trying to embrace the downtime as part of the creative process. Sometimes it’s crucial.
When you’re making a piece do you try to think about the impact it will have on the viewer, or is it more a form of self-expression? 
Each project is different. Self expression comes from your egos’ desire to…..express itself. It can be a very selfish, narcissistic endeavor. But conversely, you are making work in someone’s neighborhood and you have to be respectful. Each project needs a healthy balance of self-expression and community engagement. This is the constant struggle and I aim get better at marrying these two separate sides of the process as I go.
For people unfamiliar with your work: where is a good place to check it out?
I’m in the process of getting a website together so for now:
Facebook: “nda art”
Instagram: “ndapics” flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ndastreetart/
I snapped this pic of NDA (left) & Iena Cruz for this collaboration they just finished. (Oh hey, that’s my bearded mug in the background!)

Conscious Inquiry with Alexis Brooks

I had a great conversation with Alexis Brooks host of the show Conscious Inquiry.


Alexis is a warm, inquisitive, and charming host and I felt like we really connected and got down to brass tacks in our conversation. Definitely one of my favorite interviews that I’ve done. I’m looking forward to also checking out her book Conscious Musings. We are both writers who believe that you have the power to change reality for the better by starting with your own ideas and awareness.

Give a listen to our conversation here.

Or grab it on Stitcher and download for later right here.


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