In it, I will tell you the one thing that is guaranteed to not only shut your monkey once and for all but also to transform your life and leave a lasting mark on the world. What is your mission? And how can you make it your destiny? Let’s discuss it.
Ever since Baudelaire and his pals started wolfing down hashish, absinthe and laudanum, we’ve been stuck with this lie that creativity is best fueled by getting wasted.
Have you heard of the 27 Club? Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse … they are just a few members of this mythical group of creative people who died at 27, thanks to drugs, booze or suicide. Romantic, but stupid.
In fact this is just another monkey con to distract us from what we are supposed to be doing, creating intoxicating ideas, rather than firing up the bong or draining the keg.
The Monkey of the Week is the Enabler. It’s that voice that says: Have a drink, you deserve it. Get high, it’ll make you more creative. Act like a prima donna, you’re a star. I’ll give you some thoughts about why that’s uncool and how to cut it off pronto.
This week, I am joined by Victor Yocco, author and psychologist, who shares how he wasted a fair amount of his life by pounding drinks instead of the keyboard. When he finally sought help and turned his life around, Victor was able to write the book he and the monkey had been putting off for years.
I felt a little shitty and inadequate last week for giving the podcast a bit of short shrift. So I decided to compensate for it this week.
First step: be a day late releasing the podcast and the newsletter. Check.
With that bit of self-flagellation out of the way, I do think this is a great episode. First there’s some very important stuff from the Book (note, capital B), all about how the monkey tries to nail labels on to us, categoricals that distort who we really are and limit our futures.
Then a profile of a vile and insidious monkey subspecies: the Utopian. You know that little crystal-ball-gazing bastard. It’s the one that says, “Your life could be so perfect, so much better than this if only you would listen to me. Instead, it sucks and so do you.” Don’t worry, I put that Monkey of the Week squarely in its place.
Next up, a Monkey Tale from Susanna. it’s a return visit for her— she was also my first guest, way back in Episode 2.
And finally, a longish a chat with a very special guest: Jennifer Louden. Jen is a personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement with her first book, The Woman’s Comfort Book. She has gone on to write 6 more books on wellbeing and whole living which have sold over million copies in 9 languages. She’s been invited to speak around the world, has been on hundreds of TV and radio shows, wrote a national magazine column for Martha Stewart, and has led retreats and workshops and online communities for the last 25 years.
Jen has just come out with an invaluable new book called How to Follow Through on Your Creative Desire.
This book is a serious first aid kit for your creativity. Full of salves to heal the inevitable setbacks of making stuff and different-shaped Band Aids for every type of wound. Every creative person should keep it handy and you can get your copy for free. Just click here and it’s yours. FUH-ree.
Thanks again for tuning in. But please, give me some feedback, yo.
It makes a difference. F’r instance, I heard there were a few people grumbling that my first episodes were a little hard to hear and that may well have been the case, I don’t know, I don’t listen to podcasts myself.
I have given a severe talking to my audio engineering team here at Gregory® International, Inc. and even raised my voice a little to show how miffed I was and it would seem the problem has been helped, at least so my VP of Audio Tech claimed at our last offsite on the corporate yacht. Honestly, it seems that no matter how many PhDs and Grammies and nose rings people have, they still can’t be counted on to mix a decent sounding podcast. Sigh. You have no idea how hard it is being me.
So don’t just write to complain.
Anyway, I really must insist that you make this whole thing a 2-way road. I give you blood and sweat and, in return, I just want you to buy hundreds of copies of my books, to book me to speak at your local prison, to send me home-baked lo-carb desserts, to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave glowing 6-star reviews, to leave recordings of your monkey tales at dannygregory.com/monkey and to, once and for all, shut your monkey! Do it!
Here’s this week’s excuse. We’re in the middle of the biggest shoot we’ve done for Sketchbook Skool and I have been debating all week with the monkey on getting out this podcast. We’ve been at it from the crack o’ dawn till well into the dinner hour every single day this week and the Fuggedabout-It monkey has been gleefully urging me to skip posting a new episode for the first time.
I almost gave in a few times until the Perfectionist monkey chimed in to say, “What!? I thought you said this was gonna be a weekly podcast. You can’t miss an episode, you lazy buttwipe.”
I would nod earnestly until another voice piped up to tell me no one listens to or cares about the podcast, another would say I never follow through with anything, another said I was being a slave driver and it was time for a cold beer, and on and on till the break a dawn.
Which bring me to the podcast itself which you are about to listen to (I hope). It’s about how the monkey moves the goal posts, giving any sort of contradictory advice it wants, anything that fits its agenda and derails mine.
I had a nice chat about this topic and many others Ilise Benun. She is the founder of Marketing-Mentor.com where she dispenses sound, actionable advice for creative professionals. Ilise has been coaching freelancers and creative business owners for thirty years and has written more than a half dozen book essential books on how to build and manage your practice, connect with great clients, and be smarter and happier in what you do. She is intelligent and empathetic, and her counsel is practical and clear.
Self-help needs help. It can be tedious. It can be preachy. It can be dull and holier than thou. It’s an embarrassing part of the book store to be caught in.
Unless you’re with Karen Salmansohn.
She is a former copywriter (in fact, she named the Burger King Croissanwich®) and she has great knack for reducing wisdom to pithy memorable phrases. Her Facebook page is full of things like “You are a fine piece of china. Don’t let anyone treat you like a paper plate,” “If 2 people love each other, nothing is impossible (Except deciding where to eat)” and “If you are in a relationship and all you do is cry, you need to stop and ask yourself, are you dating a human being or an onion?” Her preoccupations may seem to be love and food but there’s a lot more to her too.
Karen has sold over a million copies of her wonderful and hilarious self-help books, gorgeously illustrated books like How to Be Happy Dammit, The Prince Harming Syndrome, and The Bounce Back Book. She’s a contributor to Oprah, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, Lifetime TV, a relationship expert for match.com, and a radio host on Sirius. I am lucky to call her my friend and to have her share her wisdom with us on this week’s podcast.
We talked about Aristotle, optimism, perfectionism, masochistic equilibrium, breaking bad habits, changing your neural pathways, and the bucket list from Hell. Oh, and she defines “flawesome.” It’s a funny and fascinating conversation.
Monkey of the Week: The Fuggedabout-it. It’s that voice that says: Tomorrow’s another day. So’s the day after next Thursday. That tells me to quit doing anything that seems to be making a positive difference in my life. It’s an exhausting and boring beast.
Every artist has their own way of working — tools and techniques they’ve honed over years of practice. We each figure out what works for us, what we need to do to pull an idea out of the recesses of our minds. Every artist faces obstacles and self-criticism along the way and being productive means figuring out ways to dodge the arrows the monkey fires at us as we settle down to work.
Some people start work at the crack of the dawn, while the monkey is still groggy and unable to put up a fight. Others work late at night when the monkey is exhausted. Some have stringent rules for how they work, what pens, what software, how cool the room, how hot the coffee. Some plunge into work like lemmings off a cliff; others fret and bustle about, sharpening pencils and brushing lint off their smoking jackets.
It’s fascinating to learn about the processes we each devise, but there’s no one correct way to proceed. Each person’s monkey erects a different set of road blocks and each of us has to figure out our own way to navigate around them.
One of the cool things I’m discovering about making this podcast is that it’s a great excuse for meeting people I admire and asking them all sorts of questions about their private doings. I happen to discover that one of my favorite novelists, Jonathan Carroll was following me on Twitter so I tripped all over myself to invite him to join me at the microphone.
What a treat! We talked about how he starts a novel, why writers need to read, how the wrong day job can leech your soul, what it was like to grow up in an intensely creative family (his dad was a screenwriter who wrote The Hustler (what a flick!), his mom was a star on Broadway, his half-brother is the genius composer Steven Reich), what it’s like to read your own books, how to judge an artist’s work, how to become friends with your inner creator, and the joys of writing books by hand.