Viewing entries tagged
creativity

Why you need a writing space (and how to make one)

Why you need a writing space (and how to make one)

I've written a lot of my best work at Starbucks and Barnes & Noble. I get inspired by rows of books and gallons of coffee. When I'm winding down and feeling the drag of pushing through for another thousand words or so, I can get up and wander and pick things up and get all jazzed, and then get back to work. Assuming my seat wasn't taken while I was gone.

I love it. But I have to confess — I think I love my home office more.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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A space of my own

A space of my own

This weekend I told Kara that I really need an office — a place where I can close the door every now and then, and dig in. I need a place where, when I'm sitting there at a desk, face lit by my MacBook, cats shooed away, it's time to work by God! That's the place. That sweet spot. When I sit down at that desk, it's work time. It's like a mental trigger, telling me it's time to get going and get more words on the page.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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Calculating Pi (or "How to Beat Writer's Block")

Calculating Pi (or "How to Beat Writer's Block")

Yesterday I had about three minutes of conversation with a friend about the idea of "writer's block." I have pat answers for this kind of thing, canned responses I've used before, and will use again. "I don't believe in writer's block," I say, as if somehow believing in it is all that empowers it. But that's kind of a dodge, because I know that writer's block is very real, it's just not something I experience.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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Knowledge - Experience - Creativity

My job. This about sums it up.

k-e-c.jpg



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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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shutter the front door

Wood, the way God intended it. In slats nailed to bricks. Today I hung some shutters. 

That, in itself, might not be even mildly impressive to some folks, and I'm not going to hold that against them. But does it garner me any more cool points if I say that I made the shutters myself? I mean, I didn't hew the wood or anything. Didn't make the stain from crushed berries, or smelt iron to forge nails. But I did pull a whole bunch of miscellaneous wood, stain, and nails together into something that more than passively resembles wood shutters. For that, I deserve a Coke.

There was something kind of satisfying about this. I'm not saying I had some profound experience, but I did have a few zen moments. I like this "build things with my hands" stuff. I do it, from time time, and I always enjoy it. I should do it more.

I spend an awful lot of time in front of a computer, and it serves me well. I make a pretty good living, tapping away at keys all day. My income is derived from the word goo that I scrape from the inside of my brain, and that is a career that suits me just fine. But then there are times when I build something, and the sense of "creating" is there, equally as strong, but the flavor is different. 

I think it's good to switch things up every now and then. Frankly, the whole time I was cutting, hammering, painting, and nail-gunning, I had half a dozen stories, songs, taglines, headlines, articles, and other ideas sifting through my brain. The reflex to create turns on that switch in my head, so even though the tools and the output are different, the energy is the same. 

Weird, huh?

Anyway, it's 10p.m. and I'm writing. Which means this is probably, in large part, incoherent babble. I'm a morning person. I don't do nighttime writing. But I wanted to try to keep my streak up, contribute something real for today, and maybe make someone think. That's a good post, if it happens. I like posts like that.

And frankly, I just want to show off my handiwork. I'm proud of those painted slats of wood attached to brick. They're like a coffee-colored, cedar headline, hanging out there for all the world to see. Cool.


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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support "the world of steam"

Anyone who knows me knows I love Steampunk. So it's no suprise that I would definitely want to see this guy come to life!

Kick in a few bucks and help bring a pretty amazing new series to life. 

Kickstarter is a way to put the power of creating stuff like this back into the hands of the creatives. No studios. No networks. No red tape to cut through. Pure creative energy on screen. That's a dream for a lot of creatives out there, and now there's a means to make that dream a reality. 


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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vulnerable creative wordslinger

A touchy-feely message from your friendly neighborhood Wordslinger. With guns and missles and manly weapons of mass destruction. Implied.


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

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Have you seen my Karate magazines?

Growing up in Wild Peach, Texas, was a little like growing up in a third-world country. I have only my wife's descriptions of childhood in Indonesia to go by, but I have noticed a resemblance. Despite an abundance of fresh dairy products and the absence of stilt houses, the experiences were pretty similar.

You know how people will say, "We were poor, but we never knew it?" I've always liked comedian John Pinette's line: "We were poor, and I was sure of it. And I didn't like it." But the truth was, we were "sort of" poor in my house. We got by on a fairly meager income earned by my stepfather, as an insulator with Dow Chemical. But we never went hungry, never went without clothes or school supplies, and had plenty of trips to the dentist. So I guess we weren't "poor." Just "modest."

And by this, of course, I mean to say we did not have cable.

I remember getting up on Saturday mornings around 5 a.m. and rushing to my station in front of the TV. The Saturday-morning cartoon block began with NBC, and only transitioned to other networks as the morning wore on and the fare became scarce. These channel changes necessitated a shifting of the rabbit ears on top of the TV, resulting in a slightly less fuzzy and static-filled picture. I pressed on. No cartoon shall go unwatched.

By noon, most anything of interest was over, and I would stumble out into the "beginning" of the day, bleary-eyed and frightened of the giant fiery orb in the sky.

I don't remember eating as a child. I have vague memories of frozen Flava-ice and generic-brand soda, but not really much in the food department. I'm sure I must have eaten both breakfast and lunch. I remember cereal ... lots of cereal. Or were those just cereal commercials? Bless me Lucky Charms, I just can't remember.

Anyway, at noon-ish I would stumble out into the world and go wander into the woods behind my house, where there was a clearing filled with the Wonders of the Universe.

Here is an inventory of the Wonders of the Universe:

  • One rusty but usable boat winch, which would someday result in a catapult that would fling a young friend to his near death
  • Several large pieces of plywood and some long, nail-filled two-by-fours in the shape of what might be called a tree house (if one were feeling generous)
  • Miles of rope, much of which formed the basis of a swing system built precisely for the purpose of Spider-man practice
  • Various electronic doodads and thingamabobs, all of unexplained origin and purpose, which served as instrument panels for various spaceships and time travel devices
  • One or two porn magazines, pilfered from the older kids down the street and hidden discreetly in a garbage bag buried under a fallen tree
  • Several karate magazines, hidden (for some reason) in the same garbage bag
  • Four unsharpened throwing stars
  • A pair of nunchuckus (sensing a theme here?)
  • Pipes, wires, tubes, and other outlets of imagination

I know there was more. There felt like more. But you know how these kid havens work. I may not have had much more than a Slinky and some action figures, but it seemed like a vast booty to me.

One thing I did have plenty of was imagination. And I'm now convinced, as I sit in front of the titanium casing of a MacBook Pro and tap word-candy into the brains of readers, that I had more opportunity for creativity and "big ideas" while rooting around in those woods and tinkering with all that junk than I have ever had in even the most productive brainstorming session or all-night, coffee-fueled writing binge. I think a lot of the stories I've written over the years have come from those days bouncing around in the woods behind my house. It's really too bad TV has killed my capacity to ... something.

Now that I'm all growed up and have a house of my own, a yard of my own, and a neighborhood of my own, I find myself looking back wistfully on those moments in my Cave of Wonders, and contemplating how to get back there. Is it possible, as a grown man with responsibilities and bills and a slight weight problem, to slip back into the stream of carefree fun and creativity that I once swam in? Is there a way to be more child-like without being childish?

Dammit, I intend to find out. And I plan on finding those lost porno and karate magazines in the process.

To be continued ...





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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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Be an educator: How to fix our education system

So I have this interest in education.

I admit, most of my interest is self-focused. I like to learn how the brain works, and how learning can be enhanced, so that I can apply these things to my own personal growth. You know … my personal growth toward becoming a super genius with a tendency toward plans for world domination. Your standard personal growth story.

But I admit, sometimes my self-centered nature gives just a tiny fraction, and I open my mind to the possibility of helping to improve education for everyone. It’s one of the reasons I studied to achieve a Master of Education degree, and why I’ve taken to teaching developmental writing classes as an adjunct professor. It was the reason I got into instructional design as one of the services I offer to clients. Ultimately, human performance, human education, and human thinking are huge areas of interest for me. I read about them, study them, and create new ways to enhance them.

Recently I watched a TED presentation by Sir Ken Robinson (in fact, I watched a couple of Robinson’s talks, and this animated one is a personal favorite). The topic was, “Does education kill creativity?” And I found Robinson’s ideas on the topic to be both inspirational and alarming.

Inspirational because Robinson so thoroughly gets it. His position is that Western education focuses entirely on educating just the left-most portion of a child’s brain. Our education system is heavy on math and science, a little thick on language arts and reading, and pretty thin and watery when it comes to music, visual arts, and dance. He believes that if aliens were to study our education system, the only conclusion they could come to is that the point is to generate university professors.

Alarming because, yeah, education certainly does seem to be killing creativity and innovation in our schools.

President Obama is currently pushing for changes and fixes to No Child Left Behind. That’s a good idea, but judging from what he’s saying on the topic I can only imagine the horrendous mess that’s going to come out of it. The focus is forever on testing, and rewarding or punishing both teachers and students based on assessment scores. After decades of trying to improve our education system in this way, shouldn’t we have concluded by now that this isn’t going to work?

In a letter that I wrote to Obama (answered by a somewhat appropriate form letter), I proposed that he link his “innovation” and “education” platforms (as detailed in his State of the Union). If the idea is to foster greater innovation and creativity in our nation’s industries, then the first step must be to encourage and develop innovation and creativity skills in our students. To that end, why not draw on the experts?

Why not call on guys like Tom Kelley, the author of “Ten Faces of Innovation” and General Manager of IDEO? Or perhaps author Malcom Gladwell? Or Seth Godin? Or Sir Ken Robinson? Why not ask these guys to sit in a room together and brainstorm 100 ways to improve our education system? Hell, make it challenging: “100 Ways to Improve Our Education System for $200 or Less.”

Actually, that begs the question: How much is each American child worth?

Scratch that. The real question is, “How much is it worth to nurture the next Einstein, Edison, or Ford?”

Our current education system stamps out the creativity of our young people by instilling in them a fear of being wrong. Trust me … it’s true. I recently gave a mid-term exam to one of my writing classes, and asked the students to write only a 3-5 paragraph essay on how writing could help them in their career. One student absolutely refused to write the essay. When I cornered him after class and asked why, his response was, “I don’t know how I could use writing in computer science. I didn’t want to write the wrong thing and fail, so I just left it blank.”

He was so afraid of failing, he wouldn’t even try. I had even told him, when he turned in his paper, “Write anything! At the very least, I’ll give you partial credit. You never know!” And still he refused, out of fear of failure.

If we want our nation to be on the leading edge of technology, to be known for its innovation and invention, to be the top producer of great minds in the world, then we have to overcome this fear of failure in our schools. We have to teach these students to try, to be creative, to take a chance, to build on failure rather than fear it, and to think in new and innovative ways. Without that, we have no shot. Instead of inventing the automobile, our next Ford will walk away, afraid that he would build the car all wrong.

So here is what I propose:

Start by educating yourself. Read books about innovation and creativity. Read books by some of the authors I’ve mentioned here. Read about the historic figures I’ve talked about.

Take what you learn from this reading, and find a child. Any child will do. Yours, or the neighbor’s, or just the kid who mows your yard.

Talk to that kid about what you’ve learned. Ask them what they think. Ask if they find it interesting. Ask what they would invent, if they could invent anything. Ask them how they could turn a failure into a success.

Do this, and do it on your own. Don’t wait for the education system to catch up. Because, I’m sorry to say, it isn’t going to. The only chance our kids and our nation have is for individuals to become teachers in everyday situations.

Remember “plant a tree for your tomorrow?” Read a book and educate a child for your tomorrow. “Be the light you want to see in the world?” Be the educator you want to see in your schools.

That’s your call to action. That’s what being an educator in the future is going to mean. Forget “No Child Left Behind.” That’s a broken system with faulty wiring. The key to reinventing and reinvigorating our education system is to do it from the inside out, and that means starting with yourself and spreading it around.

Go to it.


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

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