Want to write a one-person-show? Do it now!

Longnow
I've been working on my one-woman-show for the last year, and I'm
really excited to let you know it's going to be featured in the 2008 San Francisco Fringe Festival in September!  It's called The Punchline,
and it's all about my dream of being a famous comedian and the things
that get in my way…  I've had lots of help from some really talented
and generous people, and I'd like to share with you some simple ways to
get started.

So, here are five easy steps to get started now on your one-man-show, a one-woman-show, a solo-transgender show, or a
very long monologue from someone of unspecified gender… 

Step one:  Decide
to tell your life story.  (This is what all first works are
about–first albums, first books, first drinks…  You can write about
politics and stuff when you've gotten yourself out of the way.)

Step two:  Write your truth, and tell it from the point of view of all the characters in your life (or all the characters in your head.)

Step three: Book
a show two months from now, and tell everyone you know to come see
you.  Publicize!  (This ensures that you'll really do it.)

Step four:  Get
some studio time and a director to give you feedback and incorporate
it.  Then, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.  (Don't ask your wife or your
boyfriend or your dog what they think of your work.  They won't be able
to give you helpful criticism until they see the show on opening night.)

Step five:  Perform! 
Take your due on stage, strut your stuff, and tell your story for
real–be the most you-est you you've ever been, share your story in a
way that lets the audience fully see who you really are.  (Hint: the
less you care how good you are, the better you'll be.)

In another blog, I'll let you know about some good teachers, directors, and other resources for solo shows.

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So, do it now!  "Yesterday is rarely too early but tomorrow is frequently too late." 

Compare and despair? Or just be you.

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It's so easy to look at others who have "succeeded" in their careers or their creative work, and compare ourselves and feel like we're not good enough in comparison.  But hindsight is 20/20.  Look at how each of your hero's choices brought them closer to their goal.  Where they are today shows how obvious and clear their path was.  And yet, at the start (unless your hero is Arnold Schwarzenegger) they had no idea where their path would take them.

I like to look at Woody Allen, for example.  I love the trajectory of his career.  He began writing for television, then did standup comedy for a few years, then he began writing, directing, and acting in his own films.  He's in his 70's, and he's still making a new film every year.  But I don't compare myself to him anymore, because I've realized I want to carve out my own path. Each of us, especially people whose creativity is at the center of their lives, makes a beautiful and unique meandering toward our deepest truth.  And we do it without knowing if or when or how it will "all come together".  This reminds me how we're part of the great mystery of life! 

I'd like to propose that the people you admire were not actually aiming for Success or Getting Things Right or Looking Good so much as really being curious about and exploring themselves and the world around them.  They were becoming themselves, and the opportunities that arose came out of a willingness to take the risk of really knowing who they are.  And things "all come together" at exactly the moment when you decide you're ready for it, and when you decide you really really want it.

So, take a moment, look around, and recognize that you have chosen (consciously or unconsciously at a deep, soul level) exactly who and where you are in order to learn something at Earth School.  And relax into the knowledge that you are exactly where you need to be on your very own path.  And then, make some new choices.  Take some new risks.  Make some new mistakes!

     "The Path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire-the light of daring burning in the heart.  The more one dares, the more he shall obtain."

     -Helena Petrova Blavatsky

The Possibility Tree

Treeinhand
So, you've got a clear vision and a CPR (a statement of the results you want from your work , what your purpose is, and the context you'd like to pursue your results in.) Now, what, Ms. Creativity Coach? If you're at all like me and like to create big visions for yourself, you can get awfully excited and awfully overwhelmed by it all.  Questions arise, like, "Where do I start?" and "Which is the best, most effective task to perform at this moment?"  The intensity of the wonderful vision you have created for yourself can become another block to having what you want if you let it overwhelm you! (It's easy in moments of overwhelm to lose sight of goals and get lost in distractions like over-checking email…)

So, take some time to brainstorm the steps that will bring you from where you are now to where you want to be breaks everything up into manageable chunks.  And if you are someone with a lot of different goals and a lot of different projects all in play, drawing a tree of possible courses of action can be really helpful in visualizing what steps you need to take to arrive at your aims.  Then, you can choose which "branch" you want to focus some time on, take specific actions, and see measurable results.  And whenever necessary, you can re-assess.  Perhaps you're a violinist, and you know you want to get more work playing the violin.  One possibility branch for getting more work would involve networking with other musicians at parties or at the symphony…  Another possibility branch would involve building a website, posting examples of your work online, and attracting customers through internet searches.  Yet another possibility branch could be learning new pieces of music and auditioning in different cities.  Of course, the knowledge of your tree branches will evolve as you grow, but you will create a great picture of how to achieve your goals.  And then you can build a treehouse.

"Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."  -Les Brown

Paris Hilton for President? Now, that’s comedy!


So here's what happened: John McCain launched an internet attack ad against Barack Obama suggesting Obama is not a suitable presidential candidate because he's as empty a celebrity as Paris Hilton.  So, Adam McKay thought it would be funny if Paris Hilton ran for president, with the comedy logic that an intellectually capable Paris would nullilfy and make ridiculous McCain's attack. (Pardon me for explaining the joke.)
So, Adam wrote a presidential candidacy announcement, got Paris on board and they shot it this week.  It's the first time Paris really speaks publicly with any substance whatsoever, and she pulls it off pretty well.  But really, Adam McKay?  Your ghostwriting has Paris suggest an energy policy that's a "combination of McCain's and Obama's" in which we do drill for offshore oil (McCain's idea) "safely" (McKay's idea) which will sustain us until we sufficiently develop alternative energy sources (Obama's idea.)
First off, the idea of safe offshore drilling is dubious at best; no oil drilling is free of leaks, accidents, etc, and many of those problems are never made public.  Secondly, any offshore drilling started now won't yield oil for another twenty to forty years–how does that sustain us or reduce gas prices now?  Thirdly, we've already got a host of alternative energies that are ready for development; this is the time to change.  LA Times journalist Carol Williams reported Schwarzenegger as saying, "Anyone who tells you [offshore drilling] would bring down gas prices any time soon is blowing smoke."
If we don't shift our energy use to alternative fuels in twenty to forty years, we'll be much more likely to be gearing up to fight China for the oil left in the Middle East.  Our offshore oil should really be saved for the the next hudred generations of people, or sadly, saved in the case that we end up, say, waring with China for a hundred years, which would undoubtedly be directly or indirectly caused by fear and scarcity over resources.
So, thanks, Adam, for the good intentions, but it'd be funnier if Paris slammed down a hardcore energy policy instead of a hollywood one.
Handy-Dandy Energy Facts that Suggest Alternative Fuel Development is a Better Idea than Offshore Drilling:  US Vehicle turnover rate: 15 years
US Average age of vehicles: 9 years
Soonest possible time we'll get any US offshore oil: 7 years
Number of oil spills for offshore drilling off the Texas coast: 187 spills of MORE THAN 2100 gallons between 1981 – 2005. That's AT LEAST 392,000 gallons of crude oil, or roughly 16,000 gallons spilled every year.
With the US average vehicle age of 9.2 years, and average turnover rate of 15 years, in the time it takes to see any benefit from offshore drilling, we could be halfway to a green energy car fleet — which would drop the demand for oil and have the same price benefit for those still driving gasoline cars as increasing the supply of gasoline! (If that doesn't make any sense to you, folks, please, PLEASE, go take an Economics 101 class at your local community college, or read Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan or Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner.)

Resuscitate your creative heartbeat with a CPR!

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It's easy to fall into the routine of daily life.  Making time for your creative expression, whether it's an avocation or a career, can be difficult for some people.  Here is a piece of writing that can help strengthen your vision and resolve by reminding you why you're doing what you're doing.  It's called a CPR, which stands for Context, Purpose, Results. 

Topic:  Pick an area that's meaningful to you, and make that the title of your CPR.

Playing the Ukulele

Results:  Make a list of 10-20 things you want to result from playing the ukulele.  They can range from concrete and specific to abstract and ethereal, but make sure you write them in the present or past tense, as if they have already happened.

  • I learned twelve chords.
  • I can play all my favorite Tiny Tim songs.
  • I really enjoy practicing every day.
  • I don't even mind now that the uke looks so tiny in my hands.
  • People love to sing with me when I pull out the uke, and I feel like a party animal now.
  • The uke really feels like an extension of my body because I play it so much.
  • People call me all the time, asking if I'll bring my uke to their parties, and I make so many new and interesting friends because of it.
  • I really feel self-expressed.

Purpose:  Write why you want to play the ukulele.  Then, think about what you've just written.  And say what that makes possible.  And then, say what makes that possible.  Continue to "ripple out" the effects of your uke-playing to see the largest possible effect it has on the world.

I want to play ukulele because the special plinky sound of the strings makes me feel happy whenever I'm feeling blue.  If I'm truly happy and self-expressed, I will brighten the lives of those around me.  If those around me are brighter, they will touch and enliven their friends, family, and co-workers.  If this many people even spread one small, bright note of authentic cheer to everyone they know, I will be contributing to world peace.  So, my playing ukulele contributes to world peace.

Context:  Write a few words that sum up the kind of person you'd have to be to make each of these things true, i. e. if what way do you need to move around your world to achieve these goals?

playful, disciplined, expressive, open

Take what you've written, and put it on the wall where you can see it (with the Context at the top, then the Purpose, then the Results at the bottom) every day, and let it remind you of what you really, really want.

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     "Hide not your talents.  They for use were made.  What's a sundial in the shade?"

     -Ben Franklin