Creativity, Pumpkin-heads, and Pee-Wee at the Movies

So I got in an email asking how I manage to be “so ridiculously creative!!!” I didn’t want to respond to that via a blog post, because even I’m not so arrogant that I don’t grasp how repulsively pretentious it is for anyone to write about why they’re so creative.

And yet here I am, giant mug o’ this at hand:

typing away.

Mmmmmmm … delicious Pumpkin Spice coffee. All I need now is a nice slice of coffee-flavored pumpkin pie, and I’ll be all set for a nervous breakdown due to cumulative culinary confusion.

Anyway, about this creativity business.

First of all, what I want to say is that I’m not a particularly creative person. I want to say that. But I can’t. Because I am. And there’s no way for me not to know that. I mean, you should see the inside of my head. It makes this:

Marcel Duchamp: Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2

look like this:

So. You know.

I’m also just now in my life busier than … um … a beaver on speed. (No wait: an ant with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Busier than a dancing bee. Busier than Pee-Wee Herman in a porno theater. Okay, never mind. But I’m busy.)

So rather than talk about creativity generally, I’ll now just babble/type real fast about how I personally … I dunno, be creative, I guess—and then get busy uncreatively cleaning my office because if there’s one thing you can say about life it’s that it insists on at least some semblance of order.

Hey, maybe that would work as one of my poster things!

Okay, maybe not.

Oh, speaking of which, in yesterday’s post about these things I forgot to put in this recent effort:

This one never made it off my desktop. Too obnoxious. Funny. But obnoxious.

Man, I wish funny and obnoxious weren’t so closely related.

But what was I supposed to be talking about again?

Oh, right: creativity.

So, basically, that’s my whole operating paradigm when it comes to manifesting any creative or aesthetic imperative within me: Don’t be too obnoxious.

So, wow. That really didn’t take long to explain at all.

Pfft. Blogging. And people say it’s hard.

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  • n.

    it’s a bad idea to go to church without a shirt on, because your back will stick to the pew.

  • Don’t I know it. Plus it makes people scream when you genuflect.

  • Shorter skirts have the same effect.

    And John, you should see my desk. In fact one day because of a burst of creativity I made a video of the state of that desk…it never did get cleaned.

  • John descending a staircase.

  • Creativity is something I think about a lot…often at the expense of actually being creative. The best advice I know for being creative is to just do stuff. Make stuff. Draw. Paint. Write. Sing. Build. Cut. Paste. Dig. Staple. Saw. Glue. Anything. Don’t worry about whether it’s good or bad or meets an arbitrary standard or is useful or if other people will like it…just dive in and don’t worry about the end result. I have a really difficult time actually taking this advice, but I do think it’s profoundly true. I think everyone has enormous creative potential…it’s just a matter of letting it out…

  • mike moore

    I’ve distilled Creativity down to this recipe:

    20% perspiration

    60% general procrastination

    10% specific procrastination by writing exceptionally long sentences in the comments’ sections of my favorite blogs — which include, in no particular order, JohnShore, Towleroad, Large Tony (yes, it’s big), and Huffington Post — because everyone knows that there really isn’t a better way to change the way people think than via a blog’s comments’ section (said no one, ever,) no matter how snarky the said posts, and besides, it’s far more fun than actually working on the work that actually pays my bills, which are so enormous that I feel I’m, literally, hemorrhaging money, which reminds me that I meant to tell everyone to donate blood this month, since it’s October and vampires are out and about.

    7% vodka

    10% weed

    15% genius

    Seee how easy creativity is? Remember, it’s all about the math.

  • n.

    112%, no wonder…

  • n.

    oops, 122%. my creativity extends to adding, apparently. maybe i should try politics?

  • mike moore

    for you? Wall Street.

  • Amy

    This had me literally laughing out loud. As you can see, I am currently engaged in the 10% specific procrastination, since I’m writing this comment instead of working on my actual writing projects.

  • Replace weed and vodka with coffee and pushing the cat off the keyboard and that’s my formulation too. It all adds up!!

    Yeah..math and I are on speaking terms…barely.

  • Jill H

    No shoes, no shirt, no communion.

  • Jill H

    HA! This is the kind of procrastination I can get behind!

    (What are the odds the time it took to video the messy desk = the time it’d have taken to clean it?)

  • mike moore

    you obviously don’t live in the mountains of North Carolina.

  • Jill H

    If it’s truly a 10% weed ratio, then it becomes 100% non-effort and eating random things out of a cupboard.

    And damn Mike, that was the longest sentence ever. I nearly ran out of breath.

  • Jill H

    I knew I was living in the wrong state…

  • mike moore

    Regarding the 10% … babe, you simply need more friends who are rock stars (or actors, if you absolutely have no other alternatives.) It’s all about becoming a functioning ________ (insert appropriate 12-step-related noun.)

    I’ve known guys/gals who should be labeled by the EPA as toxic chemical depositories yet can still take the stage and blow an audience out of their seats. From them, young one, you will be able to learn Zen and the Art of Never Being Too High.

    (They are also great role models for kids and tend to have the phone numbers of the most exclusive rehab clinics on speed-dial. About wanting to eat the 2-week old slice of pizza that fell behind your fridge? Sorry, you’re on your own.)

  • mike moore

    I’m really disappointed with everyone here today.

    How can we be sure John is joking about the Pumpkin Spice coffee? Shouldn’t someone be cornering John about the Vanilla-Soy candles he almost certainly owns? How exactly did he come to learn how a beaver on speed differs from your basic busy beaver? And, of course, why doesn’t John’s comments’ section allow us to use italics? What is he afraid of?

    And, gang, why am I the only one asking these tough-but-necessary questions?

  • You can use italics! But you have to (sigh) hand-code them in, with the em’s on either side of whatever word you want italicized. As to your other concerns: I love pumpkin spice coffee; if God had wanted us to use candles he wouldn’t have given us lava lamps; I once spent three months living on a river bank where beavers were, and at the time (not that I had any personal interest in them whatsoever) had at my immediate disposal an almost unimaginable amount of drugs.

  • HAR! Good one, mike.

  • mike moore

    John, I’m with you on Lava lamps, but Pumpkin Spice? Tragic, dude. Just. Tragic.

    And “hand-code” sounds way out of my skill-set, I’ll have to call on my minions about the italics. (btw … and strictly as a way to further my general knowledge of geography and beavers, in case I’m ever on Jeopardy!, what are the GPS coordinates for that river bank?)

  • Jill H

    I’m disappointed, too. (But for entirely unrelated reasons.)~ 😉

    And John is drinking Pumpkin Spiced coffee because Trader Joe’s doesn’t yet carry a Maple Bacon Supreme coffee. I mean, duh!

  • The video took a good four hours. Actually cleaning the desk takes about thirty minutes. Yes I timed it.

  • Jill H

    See, this is why I didn’t lead a life of Riley– I’m a tee-totaler. I’d never leave my house. My relationship with my single malt is already indecent enough.

  • Jill H

    This is SO deep into the realm of awesome! Procrastination fascination.

  • Jill H

    I knew you’d had minions too.

  • Jill H


    Going back to gainful employment now.

  • mike moore

    I stand chided. Couldn’t see forest for trees.

  • n.


  • n.



  • n.


  • n.

    dang. i can code it but i can’t show you how to code it. sorry. (*_*)

  • n.

    “less than” sign


    “greater than” sign

    stuff you want in italics

    “less than” sign


    “greater than” sign

  • mike moore

    c’est brillant, non?

  • mike moore

    with thanks to the minions.

  • mike moore

    and to n. 🙂

  • n.


    hey, what’s the going rate for temp minions lately? i’ll send you a bill.

  • n.

    oh MAN?! i thought i was one LOL

  • Toxic chemical depository…..hahahahaha

  • Christine McQueen

    Don’t put him down for his Pumpkin Spice coffee! I’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of Pumpkin Spice lattes to my local Starbucks! Gonna have to check if they have them yet when the weekend get here. (they only have them for the Holidays and just until they run out of the supplies in January)

  • Jill H

    n, you’re brilliant.

  • Jill H

    My snark has come out in full force it seems! I’m having way too much fun over here today, and after the day that was Wednesday, it is appreciated. XOXO

  • Jill H

    Wow. I just realized how involved this reply actually is. It makes you think.

  • vj

    Ok, so when these blog comments start spouting all sorts of font embellishments, we can blame it all on n… 😉

    Hey John: you should give us a ‘sandbox’ blog post where we can experiment/test with italics, bold, emoticons etc, in the comments section before letting them loose on all your ‘proper’ posts…

  • Don Rappe


  • Don Rappe

    If only I had a memory, I could use this in the future but, maybe a little practice will help.

  • Allie

    Tell ya what, I used to engage my creativity by dancing. I would dance and then I would write. And then I exploded the tendon in my knee and I had to learn to write without dancing. Hardest thing I’ve ever done. As I understand it, what I was really doing was getting one side of my brain up to speed with the other side, which facilitates movement between the intuitive side and the explicit side of the brain. It can be done any of several ways, some involving speeding up the slow side (dance), some involving slowing down the fast side (meditation, weed). I just had to find a way to dance inside my head when my body couldn’t dance.