Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Madman, craftsman, critic

January 7, 2010

With more and more businesses participating in social media, the pressure to be creative is getting intense.  Now every tweet needs to be interesting.  Every blog post, a ‘wow’.  And so everybody wants to know: Does Robroy have a process for that?

Hold on, let me check.  Why, yes, here’s something.  I call it the Madman, Craftsman, Critic process.  Catchy name, I know.  You can use Madman, Craftsman, Critic (or Madwoman, Craftswoman, Critic) to develop everything from business growth strategies to sales presentations to marketing content, tweets, blogs and more.  It also works for paintings and poems and love songs.  And Robroy posts.  Anything creative.  But only if you are willing to concede that you have three strong-willed personalities within you who all want to dominate the creative process, and it’s your job to keep them in line.  They are:

1. The Madman

His cheeks are tight and bright from holding back gales of laughter while dashing around the room goosing people.  The Madman is you at your irrepressible best.  Your passion, your spark, your zest for life.  He loves what he does and is inspired by finding original ways to express it, regardless of what anybody else is doing.

2. The Craftsman

After the wild hilarity has blown over, enter the Craftsman.  This is your technical side.  Fastidious, skillful and proud, the Craftsman makes logical sense of what the Madman has left behind, which he measures, cuts, joins and assembles into something structurally sound and useful.

3. The Critic

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” says the Critic, peering over his glasses.  “Your masterpiece is stirring, indeed, but riddled with errors.  A detail is missing here and here.  And the surface must be rubbed, sealed and smoothly coated.  Really, gentlemen.   In the future, I insist we bring me in sooner.”

This is you and your high standards.  Ultimately accountable for whether the thing works or not, the Critic controls quality in matters large and small.  It would be a disaster to involve the Critic too soon in the creative process, as he would scold and nit-pick and criticize his brothers until they broke his glasses and made him cry.  Another common mistake is letting the Madman hang around so long that he burns it all down with his hair.  Finally, try not to allow the Craftsman to start or finish the project, as it will end up technically perfect, but emotionally stiff as a board.

Madman, Craftsman and Critic, in that order.

But, hey, you’re creative.  How does it happen for you?  Have your Madman/Madwoman leave a comment below.

Thanksgiving blues

November 25, 2009

This Thanksgiving, Robroy (f/k/a Campus Scout) is especially thankful for my wonderful readers from the University of Illinois who are still with me after all these years.  To show my appreciation, I thought you might enjoy a flashback to the emotional experience of being a freshman and going home for the holidays for the first time.

Here’s an excerpt from Campus Scout’s “Thanksgiving Blues,” courtesy of the Daily Illini newspaper, November 25, 1987:

Do Scout a favor this weekend when you go home.  Try this experiment.

After sitting and chatting with the family, excuse yourself to go take a shower.  Halfway into the shower, pick up a bottle of shampoo and drop it at your feet.

Boom.

Listen.  Within seconds, someone will come running to see if you broke open your crazy head.

Someone still cares about you, even now that you’re a grown up, mature college kid.

So have a good Thanksgiving, paleface.

Tender

November 12, 2009

As a hyper-sensitive writer, Robroy has to wear special equipment to protect his feelings.  And yet I still get stung.  Most recently, a former high school classmate and I reconnected via Facebook.  She recalled my sense of humor as “cruel.”

goalieThis surprised me.  I wondered if it came from assignments I read aloud in our English class, like the one about my favorite sport, hockey.  In that essay, I described the goaltender’s gear: He wears oversized leg pads.  Protection for his abdomen, chest and shoulders.  A large rectangular forearm blocker, and a padded catcher’s mitt.  He has a helmet, chin guard and facemask.  In fact, except for an inch and a half of neck, the goalie’s entire body is completely protected.

In my paper, I asked, What’s the object of hockey?  To hit the goalie in the neck.

That’s irony, right?  The opposite of what you’d expect, and (given that I played goalie) the opposite of how I really feel.  I’ve always preferred deflective irony to cruel sarcasm — but I should not be telling you this.

I don’t want you to know my weakness.

(Read more posts below.)