The propeller muse

I am immensely fascinated by what my drone does. As it soars high and reduces every intimidating landscape into the grand scheme of things, I appreciate how beautiful my world is.

But I am more fascinated by how it works. I’ll tell you why.

It was a few months ago I realized that the propellers were very pertinent to an aircraft flying. I did a little experiment – my drone with its engine and motors powered up and running would not fly until I attached and tightened the propellers.

I got an insight from that.

Propellers are not the biggest part of an aircraft but they are very functional. A propeller is like a “spinning wing” that produces thrust – the force that lifts an aircraft in a forward direction.

Usually, the engine motors power the propellers for it to spin, so you’d say that without the engine, the propeller and by extension, the aircraft, can’t work.

Now, I’d say even with the engine running and motors powered on, the aircraft won’t fly without the propellers.

Here’s the learning point.

If your dream, goal or a certain project is an aircraft, passion, talent, knowledge or skill builds you an engine but each ounce of diligence and consistency poured into your work produces the force that intentionally lifts your project up and forwards towards completion.

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Without this, your dream will remain full of potential to fly but will not leave the ground For any sustained time.

If you want your dream or project to fly beyond mere talent and potential, you must attach and tighten the propellers of diligence and consistency.

Cheers!

Nudging on like a nomad… err, kind of.

I’ve been away from this blog for a long time. Little did I know, when I wrote the previous article on Productivity for 2018, that I was about to take a journey of my own through the icy winters of introspection. Thankfully, it’s warming up in here.

The Beginning

I remember when I typed my first story, not when I fell in love with words. It seems like yesterday, but it’s not.

Fourteen summers ago, I learned to use the computer. I had written a lot before then, but that year was when I was first introduced to the microsoft word and (yes!) the legendary comic sans font. My story, one good turn deserves another, was an adaptation of the Biblical “good Samaritan” parable, with the wounded traveler coincidentally given the opportunity to bless the “good Samaritan” at a later time.

I was privileged to attend primary school with kids who had wealthy parents from whom I was exposed to many foreign-authored books, my favorites being books by Enid Blyton and R.L. Stine. Though I never traveled out of Nigeria until my twenties, I dreamed of marshmallows, lemonades and kids club houses. I also read my ample share of African works like Sugar girl, Mother’s Choice, Tunde on the run, Without a silver spoon, Arrow of God, Bottled Leopard, The virtuous woman, Things fall apart, The incorruptible judge, Too cold for comfort, The passport of Mallam Ilia… (I really feel nostalgic right now). I sincerely think I read every book my young self could lay hands upon.

Saying I enjoyed (I still do!) stories is an understatement.

“The Lord gave the word: great is the company of those that published it.” Psalm 68:11 KJV

As I read, I wrote. I created worlds in my mind, then painted them on paper. I did some folk tales, romance (yes!), sci-fi and detective stories, many of which have been lost to time. I enrolled in writing competitions and joined the young writers club fresh out of primary school. When I found msword (as we called it), I was glued but not in destructive ways. It was years before the diffusion of the communication pathways. Connection was not nearly seamless as it has been made today by the internet, electronic devices and social media. We didn’t have a PC at home so the only way to share my story was to print it out and physically distribute. So, Yes, I did print out stories and articles and share with people at church and school.

Journey to Publication

I looked onto publication early in life but didn’t know how to go about it. Self-publishing was not a new concept in Nigeria, and except for landing a deal with traditional educational publishers like Macmillian, Spectrum, Evans, University Press and Heineman, anyone who wanted to be an author just wrote and printed it at a press. I saw many of these independent authors with great story concepts churn out subpar books due to careless editing, typos and poor design, a far cry from the foreign standards I adored. Though it would be many years before I published my first book, Donut, I can say it pleasantly surprised a lot of critics.

My introduction to the world of computer design followed a similar framework. I loved to draw and I was good at it. My earliest fascination was the Marvel Superhero Universe and the Herge’s Adventures of Tin Tin issues. I created heroes, drew comics, and made paper crafts until the summer of 2005 when I attended a month-long training in graphic design while waiting to transfer to a public senior school. I was naturally excited about the electronic art media form, hence my journey into graphic design and publishing. It was glaring that the intersection of my literary and artistic interest were not a coincidence and passion for a fulfilling life had found a medium to blossom.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Life has always been to me an adventure on an uncharted terrain and I have been guided on this journey of dutiful delights, even when I didn’t realize it.

Over time, as the internet connected the world, I was able to follow many acclaimed writers, designers and artists’ journeys through their blogs and correspondence. I wanted to write words that struck chords in readers hearts, so I looked up authors that were currently where I wanted to be. I learned a lot by reading and browsing in cyber cafes before I got any personal devices. As I wrote for periodicals, served on editorial boards, entered and won contests, blogged on and off, I steadily grew with this passion. I have written two books (one print and one online), published a handful of authors through Studio 13:52; and there are WIPs and many more ideas in the warmer.

I started Studio 13:52 because I wanted to make a statement that quality can be done in resource-limited environment, and to help authors and creatives give quality output to their message. Project after project, I am convinced that if we can focus on doing our creative best, we will thrive.

I have also started projects that have failed (for many reasons), but I have not backed down. I have rushed some decisions and stalled at other crossroads but I am encouraged by the trail blazers who have experienced life in different places (good and bad) and pulled through, reinventing or realizing themselves in the process. I know that those who are able to continue moving forward are those who refuse to give up.

Over the last two years, I feel my creative life has slowed. I don’t want to say much about it now, because I’m still gleaning on my silent phase. But I know that I still need to learn a lot about writing, art, the business of creativity and how to live with creative passion as life happens.

The Bridge

The fruits of transformative creativity is bigger than any one of its creators, however, it draws deeply from the wells of the creator’s life.

My creative journey has been hard, fraught with struggles with resistance, fear and self-doubt. The indiscipline of passion has also made it a long arduous road. However, I am glad because I am still here – renewing my learning and doing creed, and reopening the windows to the vistas afroeseen. With a prayer, deep love for the creative life, a functuional tribe and God’s big backing, I will step on water again and feel my heart beat again.

The lessons

Sometimes, the hard thing is not finding new ideas, but to fall out of love with the old idea.

Growing up, I had a lot of ideas. As I grew older, I could not get one pinned down. At some point, I was beginning to think I had ADD. I am not getting much done as I would love to due to lack of focus. And as an unknown source says, “if you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”

I realize that I have been beating the air in many ways, trying to learn all I can, and building my portfolio to include all possible creative interests. I have been listening to tons of podcasts, reading many blog articles, books on many subjects that interest me and I have come up with one problem – I am overwhelmed.

My voracious and absentminded consumption has shifted my attention away from focusing on creating. I need to slow down. I need to focus on one single thing and build it for a long time. I need to collaborate with people and allow their expertise to fuel my life as we create together. From here on now, I am quitting the non-specific learning race. I am focusing on being one thing.

While I have learned to visit creative spaces like the library and museums more consistently to interact with inspiration from my world, I am learning to stay indoor intentionally and create!

This is time to focus.

The Next steps

The eatyourdonut blog will be put on hiatus for a while – until it is time for the next Donut-related project which will likely be an expanded edition of Donut. Meanwhile, a follow-up Initiative launches soon and I’m so excited about it!

My life is becoming simpler – and you can be sure that when I am not studying, working or spending time with family or friends, or collaborating with people to create wonderful things, I will be here, blogging about life, purpose and creaivity.

New Beginnings

Creativity to me is a tool for transformation, which works its way into the human soul, shapes perspectives and influences action in a way no other medium can.

I am a Missionary Creative. I love to write. I love to create beautiful things and help others do the same. I love to creative transformative work which will help others learn about and live a fulfilling and purposeful Life. To Connect. Learn. Grow. Shine.

My hiatus is ending and I am nudging on, to the next big thing.

So watch out!

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

P.S. Follow HeirWalk on instagram @heirwalk

Creativity tips for a productive 2018 (II)

Read part 2 of my two-part series on productivity in 2018.

Hello readers,

I’m sure you’re excited about the new year 2018!

Did you see yesterday’s post? Okay, it was not yesterday and I apologize for that. However, it’s great that we are here today. I’m excited to share this productivity tips with you and this part will be plastered with infographics you can download and share. The previous post of this two-part series can be viewed here.

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Today, I’ll continue by debunking the myth of the “Once in a Lifetime Opportunity.” Heard that one?

I think a “once in a lifetime opportunity” happens more often than we are told to believe.

Imagine a world where you are banned to a life of misery if you do not take a once in a lifetime opportunity at 23 or 15 (because I heard that when I was 15). I guess whoever coined that term was just trying to get his kids to be serious and not play away their lives. He wanted to say “do not waste your life!” with a bit of drama.

There are many opportunities to do deep work, share your passion and create masterpieces so do not be rushed. However, there’s no better time to prepare and hone your craft than now!

And if you missed today’s opportunity, start tomorrow.

I perceive that the reason why the idea of a once in a lifetime opportunity seems widely accepted is that, while opportunities abound in life, you may not always be prepared to walk into them. Often, when the so-called door of opportunity opens, many writers do not always have the assurance of mastery and a box (or hard drive) full of first drafts but are full of mere intentions.

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Start today. then repeat tomorrow.

Stop thinking that “consistently and “daily” are two separate words.

Why do you think most people bathe and brush every day? The simple but elusive answer is that most people have been doing it for most of their lives. I am one of the hundreds of millions of people who find it difficult to hold my brush and hit the showers the second time (at night.) Why? Is it because I have unhealthy practices? No, I do! I think it’s because this is something most people try to learn after they are formed. Give that same person some motivation and time – and it will promptly become practice.

You surely remember a drill that you had to undergo while in elementary school – the multiplication table. Why do you think we were able to all memorize up till 12 X 12 by the time we graduated from primary school? Were we all smart? No!

Well, yes – because we did it every day! Smart move!

I  discovered that unlike 1 to 12, we were not required to learn 13 X 13 onwards and as a result, only a few people do know the multiplication table from 13. We were not required to read and learn it every day but introduced to calculators! So mastery is curated in the furnace of consistent practice.

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Consistency is a great virtue to help 2018 be a productive year. However, I must be quick to point out that writing consistency is not the same as publishing frequency.

Stop feeling like you need to get out your message right now!

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Write consistently, but you do not have to publish what you write a few minutes after you do. A few cases may differ, but for 99.99% of writers including me, we can wait a few hours to edit, scratch that – and rewrite; show our peers for critique before sharing if we choose to. While publishing frequency depends on your purpose, writing consistency should always go on.

Take copious notes.

Most of my completed works started as paper clippings, ideas scribbled into sheets, several journal posts and in recent years Google Keep, Apple Note, and Evernote entries. Sitting down to write or create is what you must do, but the short insights that come to you on the go as you practice daily life often become the spice that infuses realness into your work. They will seem sketchy at times, but only until you sit down to flesh them up.

Keep a notepad handy or download a note-taking app!

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Stop giving people permission to gauge your dreams

I met more people that did not believe that Donut could be produced and distributed free without debt than those who cheered me on. But it didn’t matter to me because, at that point, the passion that prompted me was too strong to be checked by expectations or peer pressure. I wish I have that pump every day!

Not everyone will understand or agree with the magnitude of your dreams, and surely not everyone will encourage you to take the steps to achieve them. In fact, in my experience, more often than not, you will find you are surrounded by well-meaning loving but complacent family and friends, who would rather play it safe. Often these people have put out discouragement not from a place of contempt but a place of fear  – they have dreamed but have not been courageous enough to pursue or stay on track.  They dropped out of the race and their misery only loves company. Do not join the band!

Step out of the judgment zone. Step out of the pressure. Let the expectation that compels you to be internally generated. Do or Do not. There is no try.

Record your voice and try writing prompts.

This is one huge productivity hack I have found useful. Sometimes, when ideas for work in progress hit me while engaging in an activity that makes it difficult to put a pen to paper, I simply pick out my voice recorder app and pour my mind. Then I can transcript later. Hearing your own voice boosts your morale and gives you hope for what’s possible. If you hit a block of ideas, try writing prompts. You can find great ones over the internet.

Unplug.

You cannot create masterpieces in front of the world. Trust me, distractions were present in the creative life before technology, and internet only makes it worse. Remember that for every one of the planned writing time you spend on the internet (except for research), you are shortchanging yourself. You are basking in the transient delights of internet communication, wallowing in self-pity when you view the plastic pictures of your fake virtual friends and making zero progress. Only deep work becomes a masterpiece and I have learned from experience that the greatest secret to creating deep work is to completely engage your mind in the process – this made possible when you unplug.

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Create a community

I have found creative communities help boost motivation. While I can’t always reach my mentors I have creative friends who are always available to add stokes to my fire. By their critique, my work becomes better. This year, find friends who you can learn from, bounce your ideas off of, share insights with and enjoy mutual edification. Sometimes, they are all you got, and all you need to supercharge!

The next step

While life is a continuum and the yearly demarcation of time merely serves to give us a framework to structure life, there’s so much to look forward to in 2018 – Yes, YOU can start fresh and intentional!

Happy New year!

Toluwanimi

 

Finished: Nifty completion tips for the creative.

 

Whew!
I cannot believe that a whole year is wrapping up. 2017 gradually bows out. At the beginning of the year, when I was going to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life (more on that later), I wondered how I could make it through the year in one piece.
Well, here I am, in one piece… I think. The not so cold winter of 2016 gave in to a refreshing spring. Then my bland job-hunting summer and it’s challenges. Now the leaves are fallen – the penultimate month of 2017 is here. How did I make it here? What have I learnt? What am I looking forward to? I made it here by God’s grace. I’m looking forward to better everyday.
So what have I learnt?
I have learnt that the lofty dreams of my heart will be tackled bit by bit.
Sounds too elemental? Well, I find it difficult to retain.
I used to pride myself (like most creatives do) in the fact that I have a lot of ideas flying about in my head, waiting to be plucked and implemented. My mind is always active and reaching out, imagining and thinking of beautiful things to create and how to make the world a better place, but I realize that this gift can easily lead to frustration that is proportional to the size of my ideas. Each idea quickly seems like a huge task with an endless to-do list that judges me with each passing day of doing nothing.
I have this other gift- perfectionism. I just want to create the perfect work and when I do not get the perfect time, conditions or resources to create this perfect masterpiece, NOTHING gets done. I’d rather not do than to do imperfectly. Sadly, the last time I checked, there’s no such thing as a perfect creative environment. And I think this lofty unrealistic expectation has been my undoing.
I want to know the huge plan of God for my life, as in with the 4K kind of details. I want to have a perfect view of my life and purpose. “Haha,” I can imagine God laughing at me and saying, “don’t you know son, that doing this would defeat the purpose of faith?” God merely gives us manageable glimpses of him and as we grow deeper and mature in faith, we build a capacity to experience more.
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Day one of the rest of my life.
So, from now on, I’m tackling life one day at a time. 30 minutes of writing 100 words each night will lead to a short story in a month. Planning a 2 hour routine without starting will lead to – you got it right – nothing! The short story might not win awards or become a bestseller, but you would have finished and added 3000 words to your experience and hopefully, the mastery of your craft. You want to podcast, make YouTube videos, learn photography, speak in public, code computer software, start an NGO, finish a course with an A?

My nifty tip – Finished is what matters at first.

Aim for finished, not perfect. Here’s a very hard to come by wisdom – You can edit finished. You can make “finished” perfect. You cannot edit “nothing.” You cannot perfect nothing!
Get it? So here’s what I suggest you and I begin to do-
De-congest your brilliant mind unto paper.
You probably don’t know how restful your mind will be when you write down those ideas. You get to see it solidify in text blocks (on paper or on the screen) – this is the first step to getting any project done. Your story plot ideas or prototype drawing are safer on paper than in your mind especially when you don’t intend to start off the next minute. It all feels good in your head, but when you write it down, you can cut out the nonsense as you type the recesses of your mind. You will find that your mind may think you have fifty ideas when in fact, writing shows you that you only have five workable ideas. Trust me, you mind doesn’t need more junk.
Categorize your ideas or project into manageable milestones.
Yes, this is where it gets really hard. If you’re like me, you feel that the weight of the world’s problems lies squarely on your shoulders and you have to solve it fast! All at once! Dear friend, this is not usually true. At best, the pressure is called passion welling up within you waiting to be channeled into manageable milestones. Like my example above, a good milestone is 30 minutes or 100 words per day. You can always scale up those days you have much inspiration but keep a basic structure.
In graphic design, I find that telling my clients I need three weeks to work on a design is better than telling them I need a week because I have this wonderful design concept that will fit their purposes in my head. Most time, that idea falls apart as I put it on paper and I find out I need a new one. Three weeks would have worked better. I remember when I did write Donut (you can get a copy here), I had high and lofty dreams for it, but I made a plan. And Yes! It worked. When things became slow at the middle, I was able to adjust and stretch out the financing aspect of the project till we made it through. Bit by bit.
Take one task at a time.
Ideas come in cohorts, and they all seem great and ready to fly, but one action after another results in more doing. Pick one of the three hundred story ideas and start. Finish it before you pick the next one. It’s wiser to have two finished stories at the end of two months (and two hindered and ninety eight written ideas) than to have five hundred disjointed ideas but you’re too overwhelmed to start any.
Do it everyday
The wisdom behind many of the creative challenges like NaNoWriMo, Inktober and Writathon (by my friend, Samuel Osho) is to hope that your intent to finish a novel, master illustration or write consistently will be greatly helped by a daily practice which builds consistency. Do it every day. Nothing can be mastered any other way. And watch this – Even if you don’t (and you don’t have to!) share what you produce with the world daily, still produce daily.

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Reward your progress.
Yes, reward that one task you finished. Decide what the reward will be and attach it to completion of a task.
Share the process with fellow creatives.
Yes, we all need accountability and this is one area where I still need a lot of work, so I’d not say so much here. I know that constructive criticism helps a lot!
The next step.
Since I released Donut, Life has happened to me (more on this later). The most important thing is, right now, I am picking up from where I stopped. But I will not take on my ideas all at once.  My journal is full and my mind is at peace and focused on a single task ahead. One step at a time, I will gain mastery of one and then the other, until I am able to realize the most. Why not join me?
Cheers,
Toluwanimi
Do you ever experience times of overwhelming frustration because you have this so many ideas but cannot seem to get things done? Sometimes, you start, but you find it difficult to finish? I’ve been there! Have you? Can we share ideas in the comments below? Thank you!

Barabbas: son of the Father

Sit tight, this is a long one, but it’s worth the shot.

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The Story

The noise of the riot in the city receded as the soldiers dragged him across the city. His mind was tired but His mind resolute to gain freedom for the people of Jerusalem. Or at least avenge the death of his father. The Jews couldn’t understand that!

The company paused to refreshed along the way as he was being matched out of the city towards the gallows. One of the soldiers bent over him and placed a water skin near his mouth.

As he took a sip of the cold water, a hard slap against his temples jostled the water out of his mouth.

Oh! He opened his eyes and stared at hard concrete above. Instead of being refreshed by the water from the young soldier’s cistern, he was lying flat against his back in a prison cell, thirsty and famished.

He had been dreaming.

He motioned to rub the sweat from his forehead, but was restrained buy the big iron fetters that bound his muscular blood stained arms.

As he struggled in vain to wrench his hands from the chains, blood trickled from wounds reopened by abrasion. He didn’t mind the loss of blood. He didn’t mind the pain. He was already in pain, since the day his father died.

The stamp of the hilt of a spear stopped him. A guard had come near.

He stopped struggling but muttered some curse words to him.

“Awake, bro?” the guard tossed through the slit below the door, breakfast. It landed near his temples.

“That’s your food,” He smirked.

Click of chain showed that the guard had released the tightness of the chain, so he managed to sit up, as much as the length of the chain on both arms could allow him.

The smell of the food was as disgusting as its sight.  But he took a bite of the stale bread and watery mushroom soup… (to be continued)

 

Behind the Scenes

And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. – Mark 15:7

Barabbas [Bar-abba] – literary translates in Aramaic as “son of the father.

Barabbas.

We know him as the criminal chosen in preference to Jesus, at the instigation of the priests, for Pilate to release on customary pardon during the Jewish Passover Feast. He had been in prison for murder during a Jewish revolt against the Roman forces.

Other than that, the scriptures do not give more information about this man. But I’d like to spike your mind with my overactive imagination. Indulge me – it would be quick.

I’m going into Barabbas’ head!

What if Barabbas was a sweet little Jewish lad who grew up through the Roman oppression but unlike some of his peers, was psychologically pained because he watched a lousy Roman soldier kill his father and got away with it?

As he grew, the hurt festered by the daily injustice he had become too familiar with. It eventually became too much and led him to think he could get freedom for his people by agitating. But he had a second motive – to get even with his father’s murderer in the process.

So he either led or signed up to join a revolt and in the process, got an opportunity to murder the soldier, who had become a high ranking officer at that time.

Phenomenal story line, isn’t it?

Maybe we all are like Barabbas.

We have always voted for the energetic. The Israelites probably thought that Barabbas was more of a savior figure than Jesus – they were expecting an aggressive king or warrior to save and lead them to freedom from the Romans, and end their suffering. They might have felt Barabbas would try again.

Little did they know that the real problem was an internal bondage that no insurrection could cure. Jesus came to deal with the heart of the matter – which is the matter of the heart. He came not to palliate, but to heal and restore to brand new. His inside-out influence involves and transcends the physical.

It’s exciting though, to parallel Jesus and Barabbas.

Two prisoners (with similar names) exchanged position – while the innocent One was about to be crucified, the guilty one was about to be set free. One sought physical liberation, the other brought spiritual (and holistic) liberation. Having similar passions to save, one did so by rebelling and killing, the other, by dying.

My imagination is very wild! But you see it makes sense, and it means something to your life.

The Barabbas in you is hurt, sick and tired of the oppression going on around. You are tired of the weight of sin, as it reigns in present day – and in your heart – and you want to close the gap it has created, so you try to do all you can to get out of the rut –hard work, ambition, morality, religion, science – the list is endless. We love to agitate – race against race, class against class. Without struggle, there is no progress, we say.

But it doesn’t work because the mechanism of human oppression and death is much deeper than you can fathom. The price of freedom is too high you cannot pay it.

I was in Barabbas’ agitating shoes until I realized Jesus was exchanged for me. He died a substitutionary death for me. I relaxed and believed his sacrifice was enough to bring me freedom.

The blood-stained freedom became precious to me. Of course, he was buried in a borrowed tomb because he wasn’t going to stay there for too long. He brought me to Peace and the grace I received empowers me daily to live the kind of Life God desires – and why He sent Jesus at Easter – the one above sin and unto righteousness in this present world and joy beyond this life. Titus 2:11.

Now, I simply follow the Father’s lead as a son and disciple according to His good will. I live the guided adventure of learning, growing and shining in life.

Maybe Barabbas heard about one “begotten son of the Father,” the king of the Jews who was killed when he was released. Maybe he repented, we may never know.

But today, if you will quit struggling and come to Jesus, you will experience a 360-degree.

Consider the divine exchange today.

Come to Jesus.

References: Matthew 27:20-21, Mark 15:7-15, Luke 23:18-19, and John 18:40