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Director Taika Waititi Talks Creativity at TedxDoha

New Zealand Director Taika Waititi gave a short talk about creativity at TedxDoha. While his talk may seem like rambling, his insights into creativity are priceless – if you can find them. Creativity lies in the combination of seemingly unrelated, or never related before, subjects. It also lies in the absurd. The talk is about 18 minutes. Three highlights are below the video.

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New Zealand: A Short Survey of New Zealand’s Creativity

Hobbiton in New Zealand

The Arts Council of New Zealand is dedicated to opening the world to the arts of New Zealand. It facilitates creative exchanges and helps fund everyday artists and their works. Called “Creative New Zealand,” the organization is funded by the government and confirms New Zealand’s dedication to the arts and their proliferation.

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What Do I Need to Do Better? A History

blank page

When I first started Penguinate.com in 2012, it was because I learned that people who were able to talk to classmates or others on the job were able to reinforce their learning. They retained more information and learned more than people who had to rely on themselves and their memory to learn. I was going to Disney World to be a part of their College Program, and I wanted to remember everything that I learned there. Not knowing if I would find people to talk to, I decided to start a website where I could keep my observations and put down what I learned, giving myself one more way to remember what I deemed as important and one more connection to tie the information to my brain.

I monetized the website, and as I went through school, I created movie and book reviews. When I started at examiner.com as a reporter, I posted videos on YouTube to support the news I was reporting. I monetized those as well. By the time I went to get my Master’s degree, I was making just enough to pay for my Internet usage, and all indications were that it would keep growing if I kept at it. Then everything changed.

When YouTube changed its policy about who could monetize their videos, I was on the outside looking in. I lost half of my web income. When my website hosting company decided to eliminate contact with Russia, I lost half of my income again. Then I made the drastic decision to move website hosting companies, and my income dropped to almost zero. I thought I had things moving in the right direction when I took another hit in August, my worst month at my website financially speaking, even though I was in the midst of a 251-day publishing streak. September responded in a “hold my beer” fashion, and I’m staring at two months of unexplained decline in income from my website – even while September was my best for “ads served.”

In the midst of all this, I turned to writing books as an additional source of income. My wife has made penguins to help supplement what we’re making. I’ve tried freelance editing with two paid jobs and one that didn’t pan out but kept me from working in September. I’ve started publishing at Medium, where I earn based on the number of views by members and their interaction with the articles I write. I’ve attempted to expand our Patreon base and failed with every offer that I’ve put out there. I have a small but mighty core of supporters. I tried starting an email list – my wife and I are the only ones on it, which makes it a lot less work. We’ve made two calendars – one of which we’ve offered for free to our Patreon members.

So, this is where we are – facing crickets with our web presence and our ability to get the word out about what we have available. I’ve gotten messages about how people love my books. Our penguins have gotten great reviews – in private, so it can’t be the products that are the problem. That leads me to believe my biggest issue is marketing. How do I inform people about what we have available and how they go about getting it?

I have read about marketing, watched videos about it, and participated in courses about it, but for some reason, there’s a block. Either I’m not using the things I have learned, or I am using them ineffectively. I’m not sure where the disconnect is, but it must be somewhere within me, or between me and the computer. Somehow, I’m not translating what I’ve read and thought about into something productive for me. It’s a lot of wheel spinning as I use social media and Google ads to little or no avail. How do I do it better?

If I am right, and marketing is the main problem, then it’s time for me to return the blog portion of the website back to what it was built for – to help me learn. It’s time for me to start going through the marketing materials I’ve already read once, and re-read it with an eye to distilling it down to the main points: Benefits marketing, tell-a-story marketing, and other marketing tactics. Whatever type of marketing I need to learn, it’s time to buckle down and do the research and figure out how to turn it into something usable.

And after all this talking, the one thing I probably need to learn most of all is to how to listen. People may have been telling me things that I have missed. Since I have missed them, I don’t know what they are.

If you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments.

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Changes to Penguinate.com Publishing Schedule

This post will mark my 251st consecutive day of publishing on Penguinate.com. For the last 8+ months, I have posted at least one article. I didn’t take any weekends off, and some days I posted more than one article. All of that work, plus what came from the beginning of November 2018, has created less than $2 worth of revenue, and August was the worst month for income, even though views were the third highest. So, I must be doing something wrong.

With this information, I have decided that I probably need to step back from publishing so much on Penguinate.com and start concentrating on the places where I can bring in more money. To that end, a lot more of what I publish here will be accessible by Penguinators (those who are a part of my wifes and my Patreon campaign) only. Not everything, just much of it.

Obviously, I’m not going to try to keep my streak alive. I may or may not publish anything tomorrow. Those 251 articles represent enough material to make a book if it had been written as such. So, I urge you to join my wife’s and my Patreon to help me continue writing and to read all the great content you get here. No matter what level you join at, you’ll have access to everything on Penguinate.com.

If you have a better idea of how to overcome this discrepancy in work versus pay, let me know. Leave your content. Otherwise, thanks so much for reading and through that supporting our creative endeavors.

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Introduction to ‘Stories from an Alaskan Cabin’

Preface

As Boccaccio’s “Decameron,” Malory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur,” and Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” can attest, our forebears were, much as they were in everything, better at telling stories. For what else was there to do in times before the Internet, television, movies, and radio? While modern man finds the need and the capacity to tell stories, the ability and opportunity is much diminished.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Zone

When someone is “in the zone,” he or she is exhibiting the highest level of his or her talent through a seemingly effortless expenditure of energy. Michael Jordan’s 38 pts, 7 rebound, five assists, three steals and a block stat line while having the flu or his hitting six triples against Portland and shrugging about it after being criticized for his lack of three-point shooting skills are both great examples of being in the zone. Athletes are most often described this way because they are most often in the limelight, but artists, scientists and hobbyists can feel as if they are in the zone or, as creativity pioneer Csikszentmihalyi called it, “the flow.”

In Csikszentmihalyi’s “Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” he describes part of the creative process as “the flow” and says that there are nine elements that characterize the flow:

  • Clear goals with no ambiguity: In the case of Jordan’s basketball games, the goal is clear; put the ball in your hoop. Whether you do it or you get a teammate to do it, the ball needs to get in your hoop.
  • Immediate feedback: The ball either goes in the hoop or it doesn’t. The feedback is immediate.
  • Challenge and skills are balanced: This is a little more difficult to illustrate. Basically, the question is whether or not the person’s skills are balanced with the challenge he or she is facing. If the challenge is too easy or too difficult, the person will not be able to enter the flow. It’s when the two are in alignment that the person enters the flow state.
  • Action merges with awareness: The person is focused on what he or she is doing. They do not think about anything other than the activity in the here and now.
  • No distractions: They exclude distraction from their minds. They are in the moment.
  • No concern about failure: The activity that the person is involved in is too consuming to give the person the opportunity to worry about failing or the outcome of failure.
  • No self-consciousness: The activity is too consuming for the person to be worried about how he or she appears to the outside world.
  • Time changes: Things slow down and time speeds up so that while the person is doing the activity, every detail can be examined, everyone else around him or her is slower, but when the activity is over the person doesn’t feel as if any time at all has passed. He or she loses track of time.
  • The activity is the end not the means to an end: If the activity is itself the goal and the required means to get to a greater goal, it becomes easier to enter the flow. If an author is writing to write a book and not to publish it or make money from it, he or she is more likely to enter the flow.

Getting into the flow creatively is why artists are depicted as absent-minded or the author doesn’t her someone calling out to him while he or she sits at the typewriter. It’s also what makes creativity so rewarding. Being in the flow indicates the person is operating at his or her highest possible ability without being overwhelmed. Get in the flow, or the zone, if you prefer, become more creative.

For more on creativity, check out, “Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity,” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories for Greater Positive Creativity.” If you want more content like this, join our Patreon.

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What would America’s ‘The Calling’ look like?

After watching “The Calling” on Netflix, I wondered what the show would look like in the U.S. First, I think there would be a lot more game playing and strategizing than there has been through the first seven episodes of the Indian incarnation of the show. That would take away from the appeal of the show because “The Calling” is at its best when the three contestants are helping each other and taking their individual strengths into consideration, rather than just focusing on winning.

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