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My guest today is Youngman Brown, a writer, podcaster, and professional poker dealer. Youngman is the host of the Your Creative Push podcast and creator of the Words Plus Music music video project. Having struggled quite a lot with his own creative resistance and blocks, Youngman now interviews others about their creative processes and facilitates a Facebook group where people can support each other through creative struggles. In this episode, he shares his creative journey as well as his own tips for idea generation and organization.
Here’s what you will learn in this episode:
• Youngman’s creative journey up until now
• His creative projects, including the Your Creative Push Podcast
• Why Youngman advocates paying your creative self-first
• Tips for idea generation and organization
• Youngman’s favourite creative tools and resources
Youngman’s creative journey up until now
Youngman graduated college as a Computer Science Major, but for various reasons couldn’t get a job in that area. So he became a professional poker player instead, and these days his full-time job is as a professional poker dealer. He did enjoy writing though, and took English as a minor in college. In his Senior year, his professors told him that he had some talent in writing, which gave him the creative spark he needed to pursue it in his own time. These days he has a blog and a number of other creative projects too, including a podcast about creativity.
Youngman says his writing is quite cynical and reflective, even self-critical. He likes observing the little moments in life and trying to bring them to life. The podcast has kind of overtaken Youngman’s creative energy so writing took a back seat for a while, but he has recently been getting back into the writing on the blog, as well as doing videos. He believes you need a creative outlet to live so it’s something he is working hard at making a bigger part of his life.
Creative Projects: Words plus Music and Your Creative Push Podcast
When he’s not writing about his life, Youngman likes to write fiction, and he often uses music as a muse. It was from this habit that he decided to create his Words Plus Music video project. He creates music videos that are comprised of literally just words that try to go along with the beat of the music and express the emotion of the song. The latest one he did was for a Hans Zimmer song, Time from the movie Inception, and it sat on his computer 90% complete for over a year before he finished it. It was only the prospect of meeting the composer at a behind the scenes event that gave Youngman the impetus to finish the video. In fact, it took him close to 2 years to make the first video in the project, because of the self-doubting voice in this head. It was wanting to help others avoid being stuck in such a long period of incubation for their ideas that inspired Youngman to start the podcast.
Your Creative Push is a podcast that helps people through their creative process, and in particular, it’s for people who have full-time jobs that are not in a creative field. Youngman aims to make it encouraging and he likes to talk to people from all fields at every point in their creative careers. It includes a lot of different tips and tricks for getting past creative blocks and resistance, and is basically a platform for people to share their creative struggles with one another. There’s an associated Facebook group for the same purpose, too.
When Youngman was experiencing that creative fear about his other projects, he was looking for something for himself and couldn’t find it, so he knew that he had to do it himself. Instead of having a laboured process of waiting 2 years like he did with Words Plus Music, Youngman just took action on the podcast very quickly. The original first episode was fine at the time, but he has recently redone it because he now has much more experience and confidence with the medium.
The most inspiring thing he’s learned from it is that everybody struggles with the same thing, and they don’t really go away but you can get better to deal with them. Realizing that everybody is kind of in the same boat is great. Youngman would like the podcast to reach more people and also expand the possibilities of it, such as through solo episodes or short YouTube videos. Recently he’s also started reaching out to sponsors, so that perhaps in the future this can become his career.
Why Youngman advocates that you pay your creative self-first
Youngman has been trying to figure out the balance between his job and life and various creative pursuits. The podcast allows him to find out how others find that balance, because it’s something he feels he does poorly currently. In trying to get better at saving money for the future, he’s been listening to financial gurus like Warren Buffet who advocate the Pay Yourself First approach. Youngman realized this idea applies to creative people too: invest your time in your side projects and creative projects first, before you get to all the other things on your to-do list.
Parkinson’s Law states that the work expands to fit the time allowed for it. So if you do your creative projects first, you’ll still have time for all those other parts of life. But if you leave the passion projects until after you’ve done everything else, there won’t be any time left. So Youngman’s advice is to start your projects today and make time for them as a priority.
Tips and tricks for idea generation and organization
Youngman has two main ways he gets ideas. Firstly, he finds ideas in silence, which is something most people don’t get any more. That’s the reason people often get their best ideas in the shower or right before bed—it’s the only silent time in their day! The other way is by intentionally finding inspiration in something else, like a song or a video or a book. His advice to others stuck for ideas is to find a way to create more silence in life, and ideas will come more readily.
In terms of keeping track of ideas, Youngman carries a notebook as much as possible, and also uses the voice memo function on his phone. He says, ‘You have to be on call for when those ideas come to you.” If you write them down then, later on, you will have a database to look back on. He doesn’t really have a system but he also uses Microsoft Word and various folders to organize different idea and projects at different stages.
Youngman finds he does have the problem of spinning too many plates at once. The best way for him to get things done is to find accountability by telling somebody (other than his wife) about the idea. Often this person is a creative friend or his audience.
Youngman’s favourite tools and resources
For his own creative work, he most often uses a notebook, his phone and Microsoft Word. He also uses Audacity for the podcast and Adobe After Effects for Words Plus Music.
His number one book recommendation is The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield, which he highly recommends it to any creative person.
Youngman also loves YouTube because you can find so much free stuff on there if you’re trying to learn something.
Where to find Youngman
Join the group at www.yourcreativepush.com/group
And if you’ve got a particular thing you’re stuck on creatively, Youngman would love to give you a recommendation for which podcast episodes might be able to help. Send him an email at via his contact form