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Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin

#NaNoWriMo Update: Twin Cities—15 Million+ Words in 15 days

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24449 are mine

Nobody claims their words are any good—just to be clear. It’s all quantity over quality—so take that, Mr. Internal Editor. Anyway, that is the whole point of National Novel Writing Month.

I will say an unexpected suicide started the whole thing and now I think I see resurrection on the horizon. Loyalty and romance have turned up, plush a flash of skin and a skinny guy unafraid to take two jelly-filled donuts even with everyone watching. My main character is a strong, passionate woman who can make a CEO bite his lower lip–oh, and she’s been dead for at least a week. Did I mention the oracle named Franklin Delano Sjogren? I’d like to get a coffee with this guy and ask him my most vexing questions. My hometown of Stoughton, Wisconsin took a hit sadly. City fathers will not be pleased.


As always, I have no clue how (if?) this will all wrap up. But for now I’m rooting for a couple characters as I move toward 25000 before midnight. But I sense danger.

Does this count as working out loud?


Image credit: National Novel Writing Month

Written by kirkistan

November 15, 2014 at 2:23 pm

But Can You Outsource Imagination?

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Consider cultivating time to consider

One persistent problem in today’s workplace: no time to think.

Frank Lloyd Wright re-imagined this windmill in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Frank Lloyd Wright re-imagined this windmill in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Open floor plans contribute to constant interruptions, as do the barrage of meetings we file into and out of most days. Projects have fast timelines, which do not lend themselves to fully consider ramifications—so we default to action.

And as Curtis White might say: our deep involvement in (what seem to be) sacred institutional processes precludes us from using our imagination. The way we get things done—all those guidelines and guardrails—also serve as blinders, shuttling us down the same paths again and again. We stop seeing other ways to do things. Maybe we stop seeing that there are other things worthy of our attention.

As freelance copywriter, I see this all the time: friends and colleagues embroiled in their system so deeply they forget to imagine the larger issues having just as much impact. One of the great privileges of my work is to come alongside friends and colleagues to think through an issue from a different perspective. Of course, no one hires me to think (thought that sounds like the perfect job). They hire me to write stuff. But in the process of systematically going through their marketing campaign or explaining how a product works or working through the medical literature, new perspectives pop up. Things my client has not yet considered. Small tweaks to a product or presentation that make a huge difference in the outcome.

Though your workday may seem too tight to think through an opportunity or problem, isn’t it in your best interest to carve out the time to do just that? You can off-load many project tasks, but it takes fresh imagination—possibly sparked by an hour away from your desk—to see things differently. A fresh take can make all the difference in the world.



Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

July 29, 2014 at 10:13 am

More on the Human Condition: The Nap

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Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

April 22, 2014 at 10:32 am

Help me pay for music school

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What must you do to move forward?



Message in the round.


Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

April 21, 2014 at 8:25 am

Why I Like the Dumb Sketch Approach to Life

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The Lure of Rough Drafts, Quick Observations and Badly Drawn Lines

I made this dumb sketch when visiting our son working in Madison, Wisconsin. Madison holds lots of memories for Mrs. Kirkistan and I: we went to school and met at the UW, we met amazing people who remain friends today decades later and made big directional choices. It was a place for fiddling with and setting trajectory—it still is that today.

Like most summer weekends there was a concert on the Memorial Union Terrace. This jazz festival (see dumb sketch) was running all weekend. These days it seems all of Madison turns out at the Terrace.

MadisonJazz-06282013Yesterday I quoted photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson likening his camera to a sketchbook: it helped him instantly sort the significance of an event. And that is exactly what sketching does: it is an entirely imperfect representation (at least my sketches are) of what we all saw. Dumb sketches invite participation, which is why my colleagues and I often employ dumb sketches as we work through a direction with our clients.

One of the functions I relish as a copywriter is this responsibility to provide a rough draft. The rough draft is this work of writing out the position or power of my client’s product or service so others can respond. Or sometimes I’m summarizing and sharpening the science behind a product so we can see more clearly why it is important. Rough drafts are both right and wrong at the same time. The power of the rough draft is to set a thought out in the open where others can reach and tag it. After all, you can’t change something that doesn’t exist. The point is collaboration: how is this right? What do we know that can make this more right?

Saying aloud what we know and what we believe is the verbal equivalent of a rough draft. And saying aloud what we know is more than helpful. It is part of the human condition and not to be missed. Our conversations reveal who we are and what we know even as they and invite participation. Getting it wrong sometimes is part of the deal.

That seems like a good approach to life.


Image credit: Kirkistan

Superior, Wisconsin: -20.6 Degrees Celsius

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Fumarole Procession 7:49am


This is the cold of my youth in Wisconsin. Dangerous pain after a few moments exposure for ungloved fingers. Toward the horizon (barely visible above): vertical flues of mist escape Lake Superior.


Written by kirkistan

January 21, 2013 at 8:43 am

Posted in curiosities

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