Podcast: Creative Mojo, Gluten-Free Bread, + #Goals
You’re listening to the Uptown Bourgeois podcast.
I’m your host, Jefferey Spivey.
Let’s be weird, snobby, and intellectual together.
This week, I want to talk about…baking.
That was Dan Barber, founder of Blue Hill restaurants and the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and apparent bread enthusiast. The clip was from Live Sonima, a wellness brand that focuses on living a healthy, balanced, happy life. And that healthy, balanced, happy life includes bread!
You might be thinking, why the hell are you starting this episode by talking about bread? Rest assured, this is going somewhere that’s on-brand and relevant.
So, this past weekend, I made a second attempt at baking a loaf of gluten-free bread. Because what else would you do in the suburbs on a Saturday afternoon, right? It was a spur of the moment decision, fueled by weekend boredom and it became my crowning domestic achievement.
I’m talking about a perfect loaf of bread. I’m going to describe it because I want you to smell it through your headphones or speakers. There was a crispy, golden brown top, it was perfectly symmetrical, and each slice was soft, warm, and fluffy. I mean, I could’ve sold this at a bakery, it was that good.
I was proud of myself…because bread isn’t exactly easy to make, let alone perfect. But also because I finally won at something. If you’ve followed the blog or the podcast the last couple weeks, failure has been a big theme. I’ve been rejected by literary agents, I’ve had slow workweeks, and I’ve beat myself up about all of it in the process. So, I needed a win. But instead of trying to squeeze that win out of my laptop, I picked up a blender. And that perfect loaf of gluten-free bread energized me. It was the strangest, most unexpected place to find inspiration, but I bounced back at the sight of it.
And it made me wonder…is there a link between baking and creativity, and, what are some other peculiar ways that creative people find inspiration?
A 2016 article from Smithsonian.com suggested a link between happiness and small, creative projects like cooking or baking. The study focused on 658 people for two weeks. Whenever these people cooked, baked, or channeled their energy into small, everyday things, they reported feeling more enthusiastic the next day.
In 2014, Fast Company reported on Panos Panay, the founder of Sonicbids and the founding director of Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship. He shared that he fueled his creativity by experimenting in the kitchen. And this isn’t a guy who followed recipes to a T. He purposely sought out ingredients he’d never heard of, so he could try something new. And consequently, the experimentation led to more activity in his music and business pursuits.
That was screenwriter and screenwriting teacher John Truby. There, he offered some pretty specific and straightforward advice about overcoming writer’s block. Which is applicable to me because, my search for creativity is most often related to my writing. But just in general, there must be some crazier ways to get inspired, right?
Inc. magazine suggests 3 interesting ways to get ideas flowing. 1-channel the power of darkness. Yep, literally turn off the lights and think while sitting in the dark. There are psychological studies that prove darkness can inspire new ideas. 2-Build a box. Not a figurative one, an actual box. And then sit inside it and think. Apparently, the self-imposed constraints force you to get creative about getting out and thinking “outside of the box”, haha. 3-Call your friends. Most creatives probably have friends who are accustomed to listening to them babble on and on about their projects. It might be annoying to them, but it’s great therapy for you and can lead to some even better ideas.
Maybe I’ll start with the darkness.
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Now that I’ve broken out of my bout of creative depression/writer’s block, I have a million projects that I want to work on.
You heard him, ladies and gents. Him is Reggie Rivers, a former Denver Broncos running back. In that clip from his 2013 TED Talk, he directs us to stop focusing on our goals to achieve them. Which kinda goes against everything we’ve been taught, right? The only way to be successful is to obsess over your goals. To be Beyoncé, you need to focus on music superstardom while you’re still in diapers. To be Leonardo DiCaprio, you need to hit your first audition before you hit puberty. We’ve always been taught that preparation and focus are essential to achieving our goals. Keep that goal blown up on a poster board in front of you so you never forget it.
But essentially, Mr. Rivers says that we shouldn’t focus on those goals and instead focus on our behaviors. And by doing so, we can get to our goals.
I think that makes sense. I want to be a bestselling author, an influential writer and literary darling. But I often think about that end result, not all of the steps to get there. The only way to be a writer is to write. It’s impossible to win a Pulitzer if you don’t have any output.
When I think about shopping my novel (and yes, I’m talking about it again), I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the process. About dealing with rejection. About how to query an agent. I’ve told a lot of people that I’m shopping a book. But you know how many agents I’ve queried? 8. A measly 8. Jack Canfield, the author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, was rejected by 144 publishers. 144! And now, he’s one of the greatest examples of publishing success.
I have been focusing on the goal but not the behaviors. It’s possible that I may be rejected 144 times or even more, but it’ll take my entire fucking lifetime at the rate I’m working right now. I need to get on it.
I bring this up because we creatives spend a lot of time creating or musing about creating. But the whole point of all this work to find our creative mojo is to send our art out into the world. Other people need to see it or read it or touch and feel it. And it’s impossible to do that if we expend all our energy on making stuff and not promoting it or selling it.
I’m absolutely thrilled that my loaf of bread reinvigorated me. But now, it’s all about what I do with that creativity. I need to start by identifying my ultimate goals and objectives and then shifting my behaviors to get there.
New on the blog this week, read the companion piece to this episode, titled “How I Found My Creative Mojo in a Loaf of Bread”.
Thanks so much for listening to the Uptown Bourgeois podcast. Check back for new episodes every week, and subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play, Stitcher, Overcast, PocketCast, or iHeartRadio so you never miss out. If you love it, share it with your friends. If not, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you’d like me to talk about. Until next week…
The Uptown Bourgeois podcast is written, produced, and edited by Jefferey Spivey, and is an official property of Uptown Bourgeois, LLC. All original music is provided courtesy of RMVD.