Creative Brain Drain

February 16, 2018 10:56pm
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I haven’t really written much for the last couple of months.

Part of it has been between work and the holidays and money issues and parenting stress and about a billion other things, my brain just hasn’t had much bandwidth left to be creative with at the end of the day.

Another part is that – I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it a proper crisis of faith – but I’ve been kind of demoralized about writing and publishing online, and even now I’m not quite sure what to make of it…

It’s weird because whereas 20 or so years ago when I started doing all of this, I looked at the Internet as freeing because I could publish things online that would never be accepted by a print publisher. But now the landscape has become more mature, and I don’t necessarily think that my issue is that there are a ton more people publishing online than ever before – which does make it tougher to fight for an audience, but moreso it feels like social media has become overtly cumbersome to the point where it’s no longer this helpful tool to boost your signal and connect with your audience, but instead this weird ecosystem of its own that commands its own rules and yet doesn’t really pay back creators likewise for their efforts whatsoever.

This article about Funny or Die laying off its editorial staff because of Facebook speaks a lot of greater truths that over the years I’ve observed firsthand with my own creative projects because it seems like what started out as these neat social networks gradually evolved into their own walled gardens where traffic doesn’t really flow away from Facebook and the likes.

It used to be that you’d write something, post it to your website, and then share it on social media and your fans would click through and check it out…

But instead today when you share a link on Facebook, it reaches a very small subset of your fans and Facebook generously encourages you to boost your post by paying them an advertising fee! Which would be fine if that then in turn increased your clickthrough rate, but instead today most Facebook interactions stay squarely on Facebook, so instead of reading an article and absorbing a few ad views, now a fan might only read your headline or blurb on Facebook, Like it, and engage in a comment war right there on Facebook without ever even visiting your site or actually reading what you wrote in the first place.

Worse yet, you lean more towards creating content specifically for Facebook through albums and memes and embedded videos and your Facebook page looks awesome, but at the end of the day it’s a giant time suck that doesn’t attract any new readers to your actual work or improve your ad revenue in any conceivable way.

Oh yeah, and there’s also scammers and fake accounts and clickbait posts that compete with yours for views that drive up advertising costs and crash otherwise diminishing returns even further into the ground!

On top of all of this, I have other issues with the Internet that have made it a less desirable frontier than it once was…

  • Misleading clickbait Taboola ads on even some of the most otherwise legitimate sites
  • Less interest in the written word in favor of video, memes, throwaway content
  • Clickbait content in general overshadowing actual creative effort (e.g. sometimes it’s hard to even watch movie trailers on YouTube anymore because people will create fake trailers labeled as official that get millions of views when the movie isn’t even in the works)

At the end of the day, I still want to write things that can make people laugh and make people think … I’m just not sure how that works online in 2018 anymore?

In the past I’ve never had a HUGE audience, but most of the time it was respectable, and maybe I had a project here or there that was admittedly more for me because it didn’t really take off, but when everything that I’ve just described all balls up together and it feels like nothing is getting any traction anymore, I suppose it’s admittedly kind of depressing and eventually it leads you to wonder if maybe there are other things that would be a better use of your time.

…particularly right now when finding “free time” to write is often such a struggle as it is… 🙁

So that’s where I am right now.

Yesterday I wrote probably my first piece in a good while – something about the perpetual cycle of inaction that we seem to see after our mass shootings here in America – and I was honestly pretty happy about how it had turned out, but then I let some early criticism from someone close get to me and it sort of took away most of the energy that I’d built up after finally posting something new for the first time in ages! :<

I know that I desperately need this creative outlet in my life. It helps to keep me sane and happy and organize the thoughts in my head, but I’m really struggling in a way that I’ve never quite felt before and I’m not entirely sure how to move forward from here.

This was kind of a fun, little introspective that I did on Instagram over the last week – admittedly I broke the rules a bit because I guess the original text says something about “no people, no descriptions,” but whatever.

I personally used it as an exercise to consider what seven unique things serve to define my life today, and so the following is what I ended up coming up with… 🙂

(in no particular order)

7 days, 7 black and white photos describing your life… (7/7) #blackandwhitechallenge #family

A post shared by Scott Sevener (@ssevener) on

A Bucket List of Sorts for 2015

June 20, 2015 7:09pm
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Many moons ago I put together a list of My Hopes & Dreams … I was probably in my early twenties when I assembled that list of great things that I’d like to accomplish in this life, and whether or not you can tell that from looking over the list is debatable!

Nonetheless, as times have changed and here I’m another decade older, I found myself in the mood this weekend to put together another list – not necessarily to replace my hopes & dreams of yesteryear, mind you – but more so as a reflection of where I am in this particular moment in time as I look ahead at the years to come.

This time I’ve organized them by category to make everything a bit easier to follow. Also, I suppose you might not necessarily consider this “a bucket list” because the intent certainly isn’t a list of stuff to do before I die, but more just stuff that I’d like to do in the future that sounds like fun. 😀

Travel

  • Visit every Disney park around the world (12 total, I’ve visited the 6 in the USA thus far)
  • Visit Europe and spend a month or more soaking in the countryside
    • Specifically visit as many castles as possible
  • Go on a Disney cruise
  • Visit Aulani, the DVC Resort out in Hawaii
  • Make road trips a regular Sevener family excursion, and make them fun
  • Visit more of the natural and historic sites around our state and country, possibly as part of said road trips
  • Rent an RV and travel across the country … even though my wife says I would absolutely hate it

Home

  • Build the house of our dreams early enough so that our kids remember growing up in it
  • Own a pool that’s warm enough for swimming more than two months out of the year
  • Setup a personal arcade in said dream house with arcade cabinets, pinball machines, and a pool table
  • Own a salt water tank … even if it requires paying someone else to maintain it to keep the fish alive

Tech & Geek Stuff

  • Expand my home server into a full rack with proper backups and wired connections to feed the entire house
  • Create a Christmas light display that’s fully programmable via computer
  • Do the same thing with outdoor lighting and landscaping at said awesome dream house
  • Setup a big screen in my office to monitor real time the performance of my websites, books sold, and other fun stats

Collections

  • Build a collection of every NES and SNES game ever made for my arcade
  • Complete my collection of near mint boxes of all of the original Nintendo black box games
  • Complete my Lego Collectible Minifig collection
  • Revisit other memorable toys & games from my childhood to collect and go overboard as time and money permit

Hobbies

  • Find the time to start SCUBA diving again
  • …and playing guitar
  • …and reading more
  • …and playing video games on a regular basis

Speaking of Video Games

  • 100% completion for Grand Theft Auto 3 (probably my favorite “new age” game)
  • Do some sort of online creative project going through every NES game ever made
  • Play every Final Fantasy game in chronological order
  • Play every Mario game in chronological order – even the terrible ones

Writing Career

  • Publish a collection of books large enough to fill an entire book shelf
  • Build Just Laugh into a force for hilarity and good
  • Find that one creative project that defines me

Personal Stuff

  • Find new and exciting and different ways to explore life with my wife
  • Save more than enough money for retirement
  • Raise my kid not to be a complete asshole
  • Spend more time with family and friends, near and far

Did I miss anything this time around??? If I did, maybe I’ll remember to catch it next decade… 😯

What do I want out of life???

June 16, 2015 1:15am
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I’ve been kind of musing on this topic in my head for the last couple of weeks, so it seemed only fair to finally let some of it out here on digital paper in a more fluid form. I’m about to turn 35 in a couple of months, and my kid is already a year old and starting to walk, and I kind of feel like I’m coming to a crossroads of sorts in my life that I’m not entirely sure what to make of just yet.

…so this is me trying to figure that out… 😉

So anyways, what do I want out of life???

I want to live a life in which I feel generally happy … one where stress is a minor influence rather than a dominating force … one where I can look back at a given period of time and feel good about the work/life balance that exists and how I’ve been able to spend my time doing the things that I like to do as compared with the things that I have to do.

I want creativity to be a driving force in my days … where I spend a significant part of my time creating things that other people enjoy and get something positive out of … something that can build over several decades to a career catalog that I can look back at and be proud of the things that I’ve made … and I’d like to derive the wealth that I need throughout my life from this body of creative work.

I want family time to be a regular part of my everyday … not something that I have to sacrifice to attain the other goals that I’ve set for myself … and not something that I feel guilty about indulging in because there was work to be done instead … and certainly not something that I look back at much later in life, regretting how much I sacrificed it for anything else.

I want my home to be a place of sanctuary … where I can relax at the end of a long day with my feet up and a tropical drink in my hand … where child and beast can roam (relatively) free until every last drop of energy has been thoroughly spent … where I can look up at the stars or out at the water or nature or whatever and find myself surrounded by something that’s infinitely more peaceful than more houses within a stone’s throw away.

I want to travel … to places around town that we’ve never been … and across the country … and across the world … to see strange and amazing things that we’ve only read in books … and to rekindle time with family that is often lost when living on far corners of the nation.

I want to have free time … to revisit old habits like playing the guitar and SCUBA diving and reading … and to explore new ones like hiking and boating and actually being physically fit … and occasionally I want to be able to stay up all night playing video games and eating pizza, too.

I want to enjoy every month of every year for what it offers … and I want less of that “Where does the time go?” feeling that seems to rear its head more and more.

I want more good days than less than good days … as defined by feeling good about the various situations and decisions and facets that make up each one of them at the end of the day.

I want a lot of things out of life. Some would probably say that I’m being greedy and should learn to just love life as it’s been dealt to me, but that’s not good enough for me. I think that too many people in our world settle for things just being the way they are instead of pushing those seemingly immovable forces in their lives to do better, whereas if I look back throughout history it was the people who did the impossible things that inspire me to strive for more.

I read a great quote the other day that went something like – “Don’t be afraid to dream bigger – nobody else is going to do it for you.”

Of course, dreaming is only half the equation – the other half of the challenge lies in actually following your dreams to go out and make them a reality. And I guess you could say that’s the crossroads where I find myself at today, which is weird because I feel like I’ve already been on this road for a long time, but at the same time I’d hate to change course now when the good stuff could be right around the next bend. Still, I can’t help but wondering at this juncture just how long the road goes, or at the very least just how long this particular metaphor goes…

Just keep on truckin’?

Sure, I think we can go ahead and end it there for now… 😛

Florida Living Done Right

March 16, 2015 4:44pm
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gulf

The last couple of days were great, reflective in a way, and yet also a strange reminder of how sometimes I don’t feel as though I’m “living in Florida right.”

Yesterday we spent the afternoon out and about – went to have lunch at a restaurant by the water over where my Dad is staying, and then sat outside and talked a while longer before heading down to Clearwater Beach in an attempt to catch the sunset. We didn’t make it, but we walked with Christopher along the beach anyways, then poked around some of the gift shops and strolled down Pier 60 out into the water a ways.

I love looking down the coastline and seeing it all lit up from the various hotels and festivities, with the sound of the waves rolling up onto the shore around us.

One of the hotels looked like it even had a giant TV that it was projecting onto the side of one of its walls on the top – very cool!

Two days prior to that, while we were out getting Christopher is first haircut we stopped at a new seafood place by our house and had a great lunch just enjoying the atmosphere, showing Christopher all of the giant fish that were mounted up on the walls, and even giving him his first taste of conch fritters! 🙂

And I guess I classify some of this as strange simply because between all of the waves and the delicious crab and the random Corona (which I haven’t had in ages), it all seemed to come together in a way that made me yearn for that part of Florida that we probably don’t step out to enjoy nearly as often as we should. It was great to hear the island music playing in the distance and see people running around in swim suits everywhere and breathe the air coming in off the gulf.

It makes me sad that we live as far away from the actual coast as we do…

Of course the real trouble is, waterfront real estate is really expensive!!! Trust me – I spent far too much time this afternoon skimming over listings yet again, and even just empty lots that we could build on are few and far between. Yet as Sara and I talk about having more kids and expanding the family, I think we’re both starting to feel a little stir crazy in this house and it gets us thinking about our dream house that we eventually want to move into where we’ll (in theory) live out the rest of our days in relaxing luxury! 😉

Maybe that million-dollar beachfront estate is still a few years off, but in the meantime I don’t think it’s too far out of line to say that my life could use a little more of the following in it…

  • time spent at the beach
  • shrimp and crabs
  • Jimmy Buffett music
  • relaxation a la waves
  • seashells

*sigh*

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