28 Sep

The Opposite of Fear is Curiosity

Fear is the seed of regret Bob Mayer quote

Fear is the seed of regret Bob Mayer quoteI’m a scaredy-cat.

I don’t like to be put in situations where people can yell at me, where I can be in the wrong, where I can be blamed for failure. I don’t like to lie, to cheat or to up-sell. I’m a lousy salesman.

Quite simply, I’m too scared.

Everyone understands fear. If only we weren’t so afraid we’d sky jump, get married or sell our sofa and go live in a tiny monastery in Tibet where bald monks would teach us how to kill a man with our pinky toes.

If only we had the courage. If only we’d be fearless then we’d go, do, learn, live.

Sorry to burst your bubble, kiddo. Being fearless does diddly squat. Read More

04 Sep

How Ignoring the News Made Me Happy

Undisturbed by violence quote

Undisturbed by violence quoteWhen I was 20 I went to Amsterdam. They had an exhibit in the Science Center Nemo where there was a machine that flashed images on a screen. There were calm images (a beautiful flower, a still lake, a pair of bunnies) and mixed in amongst them were disturbing images – a decapitated chicken, a pair of naked men, a hunter pointing his rifle at you. You’d put your fingers into a pair of electrosensitive cups and the machine told you how disturbed you were by the various images. My reactions were right on track for all images. All images except one.

I didn’t show any reaction to the man pointing a rifle at my head. No reaction at all. Read More

28 Aug

What I Learned from Playing Games

Learning Mahatma Gandhi quote

Learning Mahatma Gandhi quoteAll games teach. Good games keep teaching. Great games teach something worthwhile.

What did I learn from playing Fluxx Amazon? That rules can change, that loss can come suddenly, that planing is futile. Yeah, that’s not much, that’s not much at all.

I wouldn’t call Fluxx a great game. Other’s might, they might learn to laugh and cry and curse with their friends. Me, I learned that it wasn’t a game for me.

I’ve been playing games for close to 30 years now. I learned to read and then to write English from them (Kings Quest and Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry forced me to). I learned to get along, to not get along and to click as rapidly as I could. I learned that I couldn’t play all games, that some games were too immersive for me, to the point of wiping out reality.

I learned that I wasn’t alone, that there were other’s like me, the geeks and outcasts, the unpopulars and brainiacs. Read More

03 Aug

To Publish You Need to Give Up Control

Control your attitude Brian Tracy quote

Control your attitude Brian Tracy quoteRight now I’ve four games and nine short stories under review, that is, a publisher has them on her desk and is considering whether to publish them. Or more accurately: a publisher has them in her slush pile and hasn’t taken the time to go through it yet.

It’s not much but I’m a traditional one-submission-at-a-time kind of guy (that’s suboptimal, but I’ll can of worms that topic for later). I know writers who’ve got literally dozens of submissions out. I know game designers who have tens (game design tends to have a somewhat lower turnover and longer lead times). But numbers aren’t the point. The point is that every writer or game designer, including me, had to do one thing in order to get their works into the hands of publishers:

Accepting a loss of control. Read More

13 Jul

6 Tips for Balancing a Life and Creativity

Stop self-doubt quote

Stop self-doubt quote I come home. Sometimes I’m so tired I just want to sleep. Other times I have chores to do, things that can’t be put off. Or I get into an argument or stuff myself with potato chips. Either way I don’t have the energy to create anything. No writing, not designing, forget that half-finished prototype.

I know that it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are ways to get started and keep going, ways that let me come home with enough time and energy to actually sit down and create something. Trouble is, they’re the small, easy to set aside things that fall away from my daily schedule when I’m stressed.

Bad idea. Bad, bad, idea.

The more stressed I am, the less I do of my Good Life Actions, the more stressed I become. Negative spiral. I know that I have trouble breaking negative spirals in my life so I created crutches. I wrote down the key points that keep me happy, motivated and able to create. These are the peripheral things that don’t directly pertain to creativity but which tend to govern it anyhow. These are the things that make me happy. I hope they’ll work for you as well. Read More

20 May

How Creativity is Like Swordsmanship

Pen and Sword crossed

Warsaw Sword MaidenHow do you carry your sword?

Me, I carry mine on the hip, opposite my lead hand. That way I can draw it in one perfect motion-and-cut. Or in a stop-thrust with the pommel. I can even do a partial draw followed by a two-handed blade thrust to the side.

You know, in case my buddy suddenly decides to stab me at the dinner table.

I don’t practice Iaido. I’ve gone a few time but it was terrible on my knees and not quite as much fun as I had imagined. I don’t do Aikido. It looks fun but all that rolling around wasn’t for me. I’ve thought about LARP-ing but weaving chain-mail is a drag. I’ve never attended an SCA-meeting.

By now you’re guessing that this post has very little to do with wielding ancient weaponry and something with game design after all. You may be right. But back to the question at hand:

How do you carry your sword?

On your hip, ready for the draw? Over your back? In your hand? At the ready? Or do you carry a blaster instead?

Yeah, there’s definitely a lesson on design in here somewhere. Read More

18 May

Help! I’m Growing Complacent!

Trophy on a throne

Trophy on a throneI’m ahead on my work. Not ahead-ahead but ahead of what I’ve ever accomplished since starting to keep track. I’m 166% up on my best yearly fiction word count. I’m at 104% of my best yearly number of submissions and at 84% of my best total yearly word count and it’s only May.

I’m going to break all my records this year.

Except that if I keep going like I am, I’m not going to. Read More

10 May

Fight Mediocrity Review: Classic Business Books – in 10 Minutes Flat

Fight Mediocrity logo

Fight Mediocrity logoI’m a fan of business and self-help books. I like the idea of developing myself, of becoming better at what I do, of working more efficiently, knowing more, being happier.

Trouble is, I don’t have the time to read that I would like to have. I snatch minutes here, minutes there (and no, I don’t watch TV). But recently I stumbled across a great YouTube channel: Fight Mediocrity.

This guy is the animaniacs meets Cliff Notes of business and personal development book reviews. He takes an entire book and reduces it to the core concepts – complete with personal stories and explanations thrown in. So now I can speed-read (ok, watch) the classics in 10 minutes flat.

Yeah, you don’t get all the nifty tales and examples from the books. On the other hand you don’t need to spend hours upon hour reading. And his analyses are pretty spot on. I feel that I do get what the books are about from the short overviews and if I want more I can always get the book in question.

To sum it up: it’s fun, it’s accessible and it’s educational. One of those rare moments when what is good for you is also tasty. Go watch.

Here’s a sample:

Linky: Fight Mediocrity YouTube channel

25 Apr

A Note On Discovering Pride And Self-Esteem

Towards my dreams quote

Towards my dreams quoteThere was a light fog yesterday.

That in itself is nothing unusual, as there is often fog in early spring here. The remarkable thing is that I realized it when I noticed that the trees in the distance grew indistinct.

I have to insert a little aside about myself here. I was a geek before geekdom was cool, spending my time buried in books and computers at the fringe of the social hierarchy. I grew up to be invisible and the more invisible I grew the more I curled up and looked down. For years I never saw beyond the few feet of concrete in front of me.

I got real good at avoiding dog poop, and found a coin now and then, but I never faced the world. Read More

30 Mar

Talent, schmalent – The one trait successful creators need

Tree_Persistence_GrowthStarting is the toughest part of it. Inertia is a very real condition, and getting started when you would rather be in bed or at the beach or anywhere except there at your desk takes guts. I am going to let you in on a secret: Only the writers with guts succeed. Have you ever wondered why writers of mediocre talent get published while greater talents do not? The answer is guts. Drive.

Perseverance. Talent is not enough. You must have the drive to overcome all obstacles, including your own inertia.

Judith Krantz put it this way: “To be successful you must have talent joined with the willingness, the eagerness, to work like a dog. I write seven days a week from ten until four, and I begrudge every minute I have to spend on the phone or away from my typewriter.”

– Ben Bova

I admire people with persistence. Mostly this is because I haven’t got much of it myself. I tend to dither around, collect belly button lint and dream about how great things will be when I’ve managed to do whatever it is that I’m procrastinating about.

So I decided to train myself to be more of a doer. And while I haven’t managed to go all the way yet I do crank out a lot more work than I used to. How? Simple. Read More