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Why I Wrote ‘Adventures on the Amur’: The Creative Process

Penguins with the Adventures on the Amur

When I started writing to make a living, I ran across a post that said authors need to write between 15 and 20 books to be able to make a living from their writing. The idea is that people buy a new release, like it, and then buy the other books in the author’s backlog. One crucial piece of information that I missed was that these books should be interlocking trilogies, so three focus on main characters and the other six focus on side characters. No matter, I thought about the type of book that I enjoyed the idea of, and the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series (affiliate links) came to mind. Then I crafted “the Adventures on the Amur.”

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My Eraser Collection: Collectors’ Corner

A portion of my eraser collection

I started an eraser collection in junior high because they gave us certificates worth cash at the student-run store. They had so many different kinds of erasers: dinosaurs, robots, spaceships… I’ll have to dig them out of my stuff when I get back to Oregon to truly see what was available. I’d get a certificate, go to the store and get an eraser or two. We got to choose, so there was no reason to get doubles. I stopped doing much with my eraser collection when we moved away from California. Oregon’s middle school didn’t have a store where I could get free items – at least, I don’t remember it having one, maybe I wasn’t good enough to get free certificates.

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Lao Tzu

There are various translations of this ancient Chinese saying that inspires people to begin their mostly metaphorical journeys. It’s the equivalent to the quote attributed to Walt Disney: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” It’s hard to start a project. There is a lot of fear involved. People can get stuck in trying to create the perfect plan, which will probably get thrown out the window at the first sign of adversity.

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Be Gentle: Tip Tuesday

Be gentle like Winnie the Pooh

Right now, the world needs more kindness. It needs more people who are being gentle with one another. There is a lot of hateful things being said, but we can contribute to making the world better, simply by providing words of encouragement, love, and joy. If you want things to get better, it starts with being gentler with one another.

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So You Think You Can’t Draw? I Know You Can.

So you think you cant draw title page

One of the most important pieces to the puzzle of becoming more creative is believing that you can. In the area of creativity, your mind is the key to unlocking and unleashing your potential. Unfortunately, far too many people have been taught and convinced that they’re just not creative. It’s a disservice to them and to society. If you happen to be one of these people, I have created a course for you: “So, You Think You Can’t Draw.”

Drawing and Creativity

When you were young, you drew. You took a crayon, pencil, and markers, and you made lines. You might have been reprimanded or punished for drawing on the wall or on the furniture. This event alone may have been enough to put you off of drawing. However, there is a far more serious culprit for causing you to believe you can’t draw.

Artistic Comparison

If you were lucky, your parents took your drawings and out them on the fridge. In kindergarten, you created masterpieces of artwork. This went on until you faced the inevitable comparison. It may have been that another child in class was a better artist, and “better,” in this case, meant able to draw more closely to real life, which is another comparison. Maybe, you were told that flowers and suns didn’t have faces. At some point, you looked at the artwork around you and decided (or were told) that you couldn’t draw. If you were lucky enough to keep practicing into high school, you may have been told that you’ll never make a living at it. It’s better to just give it up.

The Money Lie

There’s an unreasonable expectation in our society that states “If you can’t make money from it, it’s not worth doing.” So many things are turned into commodities with the Internet, that it becomes increasingly clear your abilities should be able to make money or you should stop doing them and turn to something else. However, drawing, and by extension, creativity, can do more for you than be profitable. It can help you self-actualize, gain some happy moments, empower you by improving your self-efficacy, and improve your memory.

4-Minute Videos

The seven, 4-minute videos I’ve created will give you the shapes you need to draw anything. You can then use these shapes to remember that you can draw. You don’t have to be an artist to make pictures. It just takes a little practice and an understanding of shapes, and you can recall what your child mind already knows. Once you believe you can draw, you’ll believe you can be creative. That’s the key to becoming more creative.

You Can Be More Creative

If you’d like to see these videos, the fourth in the series will be available today. The first three are already up and ready for you to watch; just join our Patreon at any level (including $1 a month) and get your draw on. I am releasing videos one a week for Patreon members only – though I may release the first video on YouTube when all seven become available.

For More on Creativity

Follow this blog. Creativity posts generally come out Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursdays are devoted to collections, which have their own creativity implications. Fridays are devoted to books. Saturdays are devoted to cookies, and Sundays are for fun, which usually means penguins or entertainment. You can also get my books” “Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” and “Penguinate! Positive Creativity.”

Here’s the forst video in the series for a sneak peek:

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Peppy Penguin Finds a Home

Peppy Penguin Plushie - a small blue fuzzy penguin

When we get word, either from Etsy or from our website, that one of our plushie penguins has been adopted, the first thing we do is we find the penguin. Our stuffed penguins are free range, so it can be a little difficult to locate the penguin in question. They’re very social and very curious. However, recently, they’ve been in the rookery that has formed on the back of our couch and arm chair. Peppy was hanging out with Franklin and their big sibling (who is still waiting to find a name). She was so excited to hear that she was going to Alaska, but she thought she might need a sweater.

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Cookie Saturday Offers Stress Relief and Penguins

Cookie Saturday Roly Poly Penguin

I look forward to when Cookie Saturday rolls around. Jenya doesn’t make cookies every Saturday because she gets busy working on her translation class or sewing penguins, but when she does make them, it’s amazing.

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The Creative Process of Writing ‘My Life in the Projects’

My life in the projects cover

Someone once said that being creative isn’t just about having ideas. There are billions of ideas out there. The creative person has to choose one of the ideas and bring it into the world. As a writer, I have tens of ideas for books and series, and hundreds of ideas for articles. (This year alone, I’ve written over 275 articles on my website and more at my day job.) So, how did I come to choose to publish “My Life in the Projects” as my first book? Here’s a peek at the creative process of writing that book.

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Winnie the Pooh Figures: Collectors Corner

Winnie the Pooh figures

My wife loves Winnie the Pooh. The characters are gentle, kind, and imperfect. The stories are wonderful to read and remind the reader that he or she can live in a world of love and friends if the reader makes that choice. The Hundred Acre Wood is a safe place to imagine, create, and enjoy the company of your best friends, who are all accepted in spite of their foibles and quirks – even Rabbit finally accepts Tigger and Tigger’s bouncing and pouncing after Rabbit discovers what happens when Tiggers aren’t allowed to bounce. Russia has its own version of Winnie Pooh, so collecting the figures has an interesting international side to it.

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If You Can’t Say Anything Nice… Isn’t Enough Anymore

If you can't say anything nice, find something nice to say anyway - like "you are magic" with doughnuts.

Kids are brutal because they have no filter. They ask grandma why she has a moustache. They ask little people why they’re short and wonder out loud what happened to the person who is in a wheelchair. Generally, they don’t say these things because they’re malicious; they do them because they’re curious about the world. Children also have no idea what’s acceptable and what isn’t. At some point in life, children begin to grasp the concept that there are things you can ask and things you should leave unsaid. Back in the day, this was usually communicated with “Billy! If you can’t say anything nice…” and Billy would finish the sentence: “Don’t say anything at all.”

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