Friday, August 31, 2012

If You're Gonna Be Somebody, Be Mike Birbiglia

Okay, so, you're probably thinking to yourself, "if I'm gonna be somebody, shouldn't I be me?"

I would argue no.

Not in this case. I'll tell you why:

1. Mike is great at what he does. He's a funny guy.

Video sticking? Bummer. Watch it here.

But he wasn't always so good (so he says, anyway. :))
He practiced and worked hard to hone his craft. He'll probably tell you he's still learning.

2. He's always cooking up something new.

He's not just a comedian. He writes books. He writes Off-Broadway plays. He stars in Off-Broadway plays. He acts in movies and television shows.

As you saw in the clip, he uses twitter, effectively!!, to promote himself and his products.

If you are a fan, like I am, there are many opportunities to stalk him to get your birbigs fix*. You can follow him on his blog, on twitter, and around the country for his tour. You can listen to him on the radio, on This American Life. You can buy his book and go see his brand new movie.

His fans are happy, are consumers of his products, and don't ever have to wait long to see what he comes up with next.

And what he comes up with may just be anything. I challenge you to be that creative in thinking about your professional life.

3. This dude is awesome.

Mike brings his family on tour with him--his brother and sister are commonly seen behind the scenes, selling his paraphernalia and managing things. Mike spends time meeting his fans and putting them at ease. He's always professional, and his message is always on target. He's consistently funny, self deprecating, and down to earth.

Because of his kindness, his fans are dedicated. Fans for life.

I challenge you to be Mike Birbiglia.

Learn to be great at what you do. Practice. Work hard. Keep trying new things. Give your fans new content as often as possible. Explore new ways to put yourself creatively out there. Be professional and kind.

And, come hang out with Mike and I tonight** *** at his movie, Sleepwalk With Me.

* I have to admit, it is my supremely awesome husband who continues to hook me up with tickets to Birbigs shows and events. Thanks, SK!
**Okay, so Mike might not actually be there in person.
***Mike, if you are in Cambridge, I'll be the girl in the blue hoodie with your John Hancock on the back.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TED Talk Tuesday: Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity

Welcome back to the blog! I took some time off during the summer. I apologize for anyone who stopped by for any of my regular features.

I'm back, and better for the time away.

I am starting a new blog series. Each week, I will post a TED talk which impacts my writing life, or life, in some way. Some of these, like this week's, will directly discuss writing. Some will get us thinking in other ways.

My hope is that the TED talks will inspire or stretch us in our thinking. My hope is that we will find more things to discuss. My hope is that they will spark us into some difference in our lives or in our writing.

My hope is that we will listen in a meaningful way and not just wait for our turn to talk.

Although, I would love it if you would take a turn to talk. Not everything in the talks will be things we will all agree on. Thank goodness for that! Discussion and differences breed new ideas and perspective.

Wow, I have lots of hopes, don't I?

As President Snow says, hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

And as writers, we tend to feed our fears.

Which brings me to our TED talk for today. In which Elizabeth Gilbert discusses fear, genius, and the importance of just showing up for work.

Can't see the embedded talk? View here.

So, do you believe your genius resides outside yourself? Have you ever had an experience like the poet described? Does this idea of external muse make you feel anxious? Does it make you feel relieved?

I'll get the ball rolling. I like the idea of just showing up. Of getting the work done. Whenever I do that, I see progress.

I also identified with those feelings of fear which Elizabeth describes.

The idea of muse as actual thing outside of us all made me cringe a little, but then I realized that I speak in those terms ALL THE TIME. I call it The Universe. As in, "I need to keep myself open to The Universe." "The Universe has provided the answer/opportunity/experience." It backs on my Faith and belief in miracles, and the idea that things will be provided for us when we need them.

Even in our writing.

What do you think?

OH, and I love her reference to Dobby, the house elf. :)

PS--After I decided to launch this blog series, I opened up this fortune:

See? The Universe is totally on board with the TED talks series. :)