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Posted by rwf1954 in book review, books, creative people, creativity, Eric Maisel, Making Your Creative Mark, non-fiction books.
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As someone who self-describes himself as a “creative eccentric,” and offers a blog of that name, we can expect that I will post on creativity. Commenting on Eric Maisel’s book Making Your Creative Mark: Nine Keys to Achieving Your Creative Goals gives me the perfect opportunity.

The bio on the book cover describes Dr. Maisel as “America’s foremost creativity coach and a prolific creator who has written over forty books.” I learned about this book as a result of my subscription to Publishers Weekly. (I look at the reviews to get an idea of what is coming out—mainly fiction, with an emphasis on historical fiction—but the non-fiction reviews often tip me off on intriguing releases as they did on this occasion.) I have since then ordered two more of Dr. Maisel’s books based on the helpful material I received in this one.

What I love most about Dr. Maisel is that he offers practical, no-nonsense, reality-based insights, not platitudes and mushy-gushy pats on the back. His advice and counsel pertains to just about any creative activity. He shifts easily from painters to authors to musicians as he provides is down-to-earth examples and discussions. We get the sense that he’s “been-there-done-that,” or that his patients have. Sometimes his insights will hit so close to home that readers will look around and ask “has he been hiding in my home—is he following me around?”

As the title promises, the book is arranged to offer nine “keys”:

  • The Mind Key
  • The Confidence Key
  • The Passion Key
  • The Freedom Key
  • The Stress Key
  • The Empathy Key
  • The Relationship key
  • The Identity Key
  • The Societial Key

Different readers will undoubtedly find themselves more drawn to different keys. I found food for thought in all of them. But for me, the three that stood out were “The Mind Key,” “The Stress Key,” and “The Relationship Key.” “The Mind Key” addresses quieting an overly busy mind, how to calm that busy mind and focus it (lack of focus has been identified as one of my own “issues.”) “The Stress Key” is a nuts-and-bolts chapter about the uncomfortable, yes—stress inducing—aspects of being a creative person. This is one of the chapters where we know he is been there and done that as he goes into the specific stressors: “economic stress,” “marketplace stress,” “relationship stress,” “world stress,” “creative stress,” “existential stress,” “physical stress,” and “psychological stress.” “The Relationship Key” gives us “fifteen sensible rules for marketplace relating.” Rule number one—“you can’t succeed in the marketplace without the help of others.” The rules build from there, with practical suggestions on how to establish and nurture the relationships you develop a creative person.

From Dr. Maisel’s background, it is evident he is one of the creative types he is trying to help. We can imagine he has grappled with these issues himself. As one of us, he has a lot to offer, and he has with Making Your Creative Mark. If you are a creative type and feel that no one understands your peculiar challenges, Dr. Maisel will give you the empowering realization that you are not alone, and that you can overcome those challenges that come with being a creative human being.


By the way, feel free to contact me (RichardWarrenField@RichardWarrenField.com) if you are a creative person and you want to swap some thoughts and ideas with another creative person!


Recent blog post about Creative Attention Deficit Disorder.

CADD™: A Personal Confession August 24, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in creativity, historical fiction, Issa, Issa Legend, music, mystic jazz, The Swords of Faith, writers, writing.
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The Diagnosis: Creative Attention Deficit Disorder 

The Prescription: Focus™ 

Yes, I have been struggling with CADD™ for most of my life, from the time I realized I am a creative person, maybe ten years after I was born. I am pleased to have identified this condition after all this time. There is little doubt this condition has shaped who I am, how my life is gone, and most importantly, what I offer to the public. All right, so what does that mean? Let’s take a look at it.

What is CADD™?
Creative Attention Deficit Disorder refers to bouncing from one creative interest to another, splitting attention between very different creative projects. In an age of genre-fication and specialization, those with this CADD™ condition can find carving out a life in the creative spheres to be difficult. We are supposed to seek out niches, and build audiences in those niches. For example, historical fiction as a specialty for a writer is no longer enough. Historical romance or historical mystery is even better, and historical romance or mystery set during a specific period, a whole series of books, is best of all. But we CADD™ people are niche jumpers—we’re easily bored with a narrow set of interests and are impulsively drawn to where our curiosity and inspiration take us.

What is the Treatment for the CADD™ Condition?
The medicine we are told to take is called Focus™ (generic substitute -“stay on one thing, stupid”). I’ve tried taking Focus™.  I just don’t tolerate it well. Because to “focus,” I need to choose. Even now, I wouldn’t know what choice to make even if I decided to take Focus™. Do I set aside my writing? My recent novel, The Swords of Faith, won three awards, and I have completed a follow-up novel (set six years later) with clear ideas for a third, and other follow-ups. Or do I set aside my music?  My CD “Issa Music” has over 300 fans around the world on internet radio, fans on every continent except Antarctica. This fan list is growing. 

So Will I Take the Medicine Now, At Long Last, Now that I Have a Diagnosis?
You can probably tell from the previous section—I’m not going to take this medicine. As I said, I have tried it before, and it hasn’t worked for me. I am now embracing my CADD™ condition. I will work with all the energy life grants me to go in every creative direction that feels right to me. My blog reflects this—my posts are all over the place here. I am not going to beat myself up over this anymore. I ask people only to consider what I have to offer without taking into consideration my CADD™ condition, that I am not a genre-fied specialist. If my writing works for you, enjoy it. If my music works for you, enjoy it. If you like it all, that’s fantastic. (And why not?) You may come to see connections. I am one person, so connections are bound to be there. Podcast interviewer Ron Hood, of Ron’s Amazing Stories, spotted a connection and we spoke about it during his interview with me. (Ron Hood was the best-prepared, most insightful interviewer I have ever had the pleasure to encounter—check out “Ron’s Amazing Stories” for his work with me and with others.) But it is still a broad connection, not an obvious one like those who have the skill to genre-fy/specialize.

The Consequences of Untreated CADD™
So for me, CADD™ is terminal. I will never cure it; I will never recover from it; I don’t want to. What has this meant? When you won’t grab that niche and stay there, it is harder to find success in the marketplace. We live in an increasingly cluttered and decentralized world of multiple communications channels. Specialization/genre-fication allows people focused on your interest to find you through those channels. But the generalist, the “Renaissance man” (or woman), has a lot harder time reaching an audience under these circumstances.

For me, this has meant I’ve been unable to make a living with my creativity. I have perceived this in the past as the profound failure of my life. (I am not whining here—everyone has failures. My life is abundant with wonderful successes and I am fine where I am now.) This has reduced my time for creativity. But I read something recently that brought me a lot of comfort, even a smile, as I think about this. (This was in the comment section of an article on the whether social media will remain an effective marketing tool.) There are many creative people in the world. Society does not have the resources to provide a livelihood for every creative person. (In primitive societies, story-telling and music-making were not specialties. They took place in a group setting with individuals contributing to the creative activities after their tasks to sustain the group were completed.) So, society arbitrarily supports some creative people over others. In our society, the marketplace generally decides who gets that support, though academia and government grants also play a limited role. And it is not necessarily the best who get the support! That is an important consideration in looking at all this. And looking back, this is true through history. Some creative people were paid—some had other occupations to sustain them. Some creative people whose work is now considered to have stood to test of time, achieving a consensus label of greatness, died destitute while others with lesser talents thrived. So as I have said before, I’m through beating myself up over this. I accept my CADD™ and its consequences.

Going Forward
As I said, I will indulge varied creative impulses with all the energy, talent and time I have available. My website displays what I have to offer. I invite people to enjoy whatever they find appealing. At this time, I still support myself with a “day job.” But that is even winding down—I can see ahead the day when I will “retire” from that. (I will never “retire” from creative projects—that’s impossible!) Now, if I hit the market right, I would love to make a living with music, or writing, or both! But, if that doesn’t happen, I’m still at peace with my CADD™ condition.

Do you have CADD™?
I do not believe I am alone, the only person “afflicted” with this CADD™ condition! If you see yourself in these words, in my story, I invite your comments. Share your own story. Share your thinking. We are being crowded out by the genre-fiers, by the specializers. Let’s speak out for ourselves, support each other, and continue to create. Over-specialization/over-genre-fication, narrows perspectives. The world needs CADD™  people because we are more likely to bring broad perspectives, big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking, to the world. We are important. CADD™ “sufferers” unite! We have nothing to lose but our apologies for our short creative attention spans!

Previous “Personal Notes” Posts: