Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Questions about Advice

Do you like to give advice?

I don't know how many times people have asked me for advice and in return I just let them hear what I had to say about what I thought they wanted to know. That has two big problems: 

  1. Maybe I haven't really understood their issue, and
  2. Maybe they aren't really ready for advice until they've thought it through

By asking questions, I can learn more about their situation to find out if I even have advice worth sharing on that situation. Sometimes, they have all they need to solve the problem by themselves.

Also, by asking questions and letting them think through the situation in greater detail, they can tell that I'm not just going to pull out a stock answer -- and the answer will come from our dialogue together, not some ready-supply of world wisdom. I'm smart, but I can't solve everyone's problem.

How about this -- do you like to get advice?

Asking for advice (without paying for it) can be an imposition. It can also be rude. It can also be risky because once you ask for advice whoever provides that advice will expect you to follow it.

Before I ask for advice now, I ask questions to explore whether my inquiries are both welcome and useful for both of us. I'm more interested in collaborating solutions than consuming them.

Or, how about this -- does anyone ever offer you advice you didn't ask for? 

That's always fun isn't it -- or not! When that happens I've learned to ask questions to find out why they think I need or want that advice. Maybe I do and I just don't realize it yet. Or, maybe I don't and any advice will get in the way of a plan already in place. Once again, I'd rather collaborate than consume.

When in doubt, when put out, when you feel about to shout -- ask questions.

Ask questions before giving advice and ask questions before taking it.

The right questions can save you hours of aggravation and misunderstanding.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Sometimes, That's How You Lead

No one else has to like what you create -- if you do, keep creating. The others will just have to catch up.

-- doug smith

Sunday, November 1, 2020

With Our Hands

There is something primal, primary, and joyful about making things with our hands. Creativity soothes the soul.

-- doug smith

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Stay Creative to Succeed

Start creative, stay creative, succeed creatively.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Pave The Way

A creative imagination powered by positive action paves the way for limitless success.

-- doug smith

Friday, August 7, 2020

Scene Prompt: The Formula

photo: doug smith


Start an improv scene or writing session with this prompt:

If we don't find the formula within the hour it will be too late.

-- doug smith

More Than A Name

dance friends dance

Calling something creative doesn't make it creative, but I do appreciate the enthusiasm.

-- doug smith

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Scene Prompt: Your Sister...

scene prompt: in the kitchen

Start your improv scene or writing session with this prompt:

Your sister told me I'd find you here.

-- doug smith


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Think...and Be Creative

Think about the most creative moments of your life. What if you could have that whenever you want? 

You can.

-- doug smith

Friday, July 24, 2020

Scene Prompt: No need?

photo: doug smith

Start your improv scene (or your writing session) with this prompt:

There's no need to eat everything on the menu.

--- doug smith

Add More Imaginations

photo: doug smith

The only person needed to spark your creativity is you, but imagine the possibilities of adding more imaginations.

-- doug smith

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Creativity Is Up To You

quotes on creativity - image by doug smith

Whether or not you're creative is up to you.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Picture This: Parenthood

I have two sons. I love them both dearly. Both are full grown adults with lives of their own. One I see everyday, because we live together. The other, not so often. Given a choice, I'd see them both everyday.

Life doesn't always consult us about our choices. Children will challenge you when you least expect it. Children will delight you without notice. Sometimes, they will forget your birthday, or your presence. It's all good. I can think of nothing better than being the parent I am. Not that I'm world class at it, I just like what life has given me in my family.

Juan and I used to take long walks. Not so much anymore because he works so much. Chris and I used to talk baseball and hangout. Not so much anymore because he works so much.

Where did they get their work ethic? Where did they learn to work nonstop? Is that my doing? Is that a great choice?

Work is my passion. My children are my joy.  Life is good.

Picture This: 

1. Find a random picture
2. Write for exactly five minutes

Collage: In Whispers and Visions Unending

Collage by douglas brent smith, Created 4 November 1979
from the book and performance installation "the path of destiny takes the scenic route"

Monday, June 1, 2020

Learn How

The most creative people in the world had to learn how to be that way.

-- doug smith

Friday, May 1, 2020


doug smith

Appreciating the creativity of others helps you to develop your own creativity.

-- doug smith

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Scene Prompt: Drama from Mama

The prompt:
Four women are stuck on an elevator. They are all moms but from four different generations.


Five Minutes: Just So That You Know

She wrapped the bandage, even though the cut was still bleeding.

"Hold that over your head," she said. "Do it now."
"For how long?"
"Until I tell you to stop. Unless I forget, then maybe ten minutes."
"That seems like a long time."
"Just hold it over your head. Have I ever been wrong?"
"I head that."
"That silence. You know I'm right so just keep holding it up."

It felt like the bleeding had stopped but his heart was still pumping rapidly. His pulse was a cadence even a marching band could hear.

She opened the window. A quick breeze blew a paper off of the table. It floated a moment and before it drifted to the floor the cat batted it around, keeping it aloft like a balloon.

"Can I put it down yet?"
"No. Did I tell you to yet?"
"I hear that..."

The cat pounced on the paper, smashing it to the floor. The cat resumed washing some essential piece of fur, over and over, over and over.

"You can put it down now."
"Thank you. I was just about to ask."
"You're not bleeding out. It was barely more than a paper cut."
"It hurt."
"You're a woosh."

Rusty the cat in a box


1. Write for exactly five minutes, then stop.
2. Find a random image to add

Improv Prompt

Improv Scene Prompt:

  1. Read the quote
  2. Reflect for one-minute
  3. Start your scene

Here's the quote (but you can use the same prompt with other quotes, too):

Do not admire famous people too much -- they could carry a sadness that would crush you.

-- doug smith

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Dig This

You don't need excuses for failing when you use the creativity to succeed.

  • art
  • business
  • music
  • education
  • governing
  • leading
  • writing
What if your MAIN ingredient is creativity? That's good news because you've got plenty of it. But, you might have to dig.


Start digging!

-- doug smith

Creative Muscles

Creativity is intellectual and emotional muscle. Exercise it to grow stronger and smarter.

-- doug smith

Choices We Almost Make

What about that choices we almost make? One time, I almost bought a Jeep Patriot very much like the one pictured here (this one's a rental car.) I really, really wanted that Jeep. I'd been day dreaming about Jeep Patriots for about a year, and when my 2002 Chevy Cavalier started making death noises and losing its accessories, I was all set to buy one.

I test drove one. It was nice. I knew I liked them because I'd rented them before. So, what's to choose? Find one at a reasonable price and buy it.

Or so I thought.

I also drove a Chevy Cruz. That car was amazing. It drove like a sports car. It was fast, quick, turbo-charged. It made me feel young and alive and daring and ready to improvise.

I bought the Cruz. And I did love that car and kept it until it also began making killer noises and motions.

But I've never stopped thinking about that Jeep Patriot. It might be that HAD I bought it that I would still have it. But I don't.

We make choices, and move on. The choices we make are perfectly acceptable choices and we live with them, we expand them, we make the best of them.

In improv, we make choices all the time. Some are great (turbo charged!) and some are not so great (where's the wifi?) and yet we make the best of them. We support the cast around us and go with the flow.

It makes life simpler. It makes comedy real. It makes the road easier and more exciting.

-- doug smith

Friday, April 10, 2020

Not My Van

1969 Ford Econoline

Growth works best with boundaries.

The picture above is (I think) of a 1969 Ford Econoline. It's not my van, or former van, but I did once own a 69 Ford Econoline (filled with holes and rust -- lyrics from a song I wrote about that truck which we (my wife at the time, Nena) and I names "Buster." We named it Buster Truck because it was always busting our chops in need of one repair or another. I paid $500 for it in 1977 and it was worth every penny.

It had some severe boundaries: no radio. Barely any heat. Manual transmission. And yes, oh how we loved that van. Not sure why I ever got rid of it (probably needed major repair...) but it helped me appreciate that tough boundaries never have to limit your joy.

Buster Truck brought me great joy. You can't keep every car you've ever owned, but if you could, I would have kept Buster. Although who knows how much of him is left these days?

Enjoy your boundaries. Enjoy your day. Create something wild and wonderful just for fun.

-- doug smith

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Some days...

Some days I miss my red Chevy Cruz...
Where were you on that day?

That day when everything changed? You have a few, don't you? Depending on how old you are, you have at least one because the world changed last month. Not for some people, but for all people.

We can still be creative. Lord knows, we need to improvise more than ever. And in our best zen-like open improv way we can accept all offers and roll with the show.

Keep rolling!

-- doug smith

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Collage: Big Fun

Big Fun, collage by doug smith
Big Fun - Collage by doug smith

The more you trust your own creativity the less someone else's harsh criticism matters.

-- doug smith

Random Quotes on Creativity

A much younger doug with the lost painting, circa 1976
Here are some random thoughts on creativity that I blathered out on the pages of my journal during a burst of enthusiasm. Some don't seem as brilliant now as when I thought of them, but here they are anyway, just in case I lose my journal the way I lost the painting pictured above.

  1. Improvising possibilities leads to better choices.
  2. Those who develop creativity discover new levels of happiness.
  3. A creative spark can light a thousand possibilities.
  4. Creativity might just be the closest thing to a fountain of youth.
  5. Appreciating the creativity in others helps develop the personal creativity inside.
  6. We barely understand why where' here, why not keep learning?
  7. You don't have to color outside the lines to appreciate the color within the lines.
  8. If you were as creative as you could be, how creative would you be? Go for that.
  9. Stay creative and you will never be bored.
  10. Creativity works with or without permission, with or without constraints.
  11. It might seem that creativity is best suited for the young but the truth is that it's right for everyone.
  12. Creativity, like love, suffers more from neglect than it does from resistance.
That's it for today. There are more of course. Maybe I'll scatter them around. Maybe I'll drop them occasionally. 

What creative thoughts do you have on this fine day?

-- doug smith

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Picture This: Gone

It was loud enough to hear, but not so loud that you called the police. Unless you were overly sensitive.

You're not overly-sensitive, are you?

I was once. Well, maybe a bunch of times. Probably most of the time. But, I got over it.

I'm working on getting over it. I've started to get over it.

The conga drums are gone. I hardly ever played them. I did cart them from Warminster to Colorado and they did survive the fire and they did live for a time in William's basement, where we occasionally (but not often enough) used them. It wasn't a salsa band. We didn't play any salsa. We ate salsa at the Mexican restaurant where we played in Louisville. But we didn't bring the conga drums for that. Guess that was a miss, eh?

I missed a lot. I'm missing a lot. I'm missing those drums. I'm missing Colorado. I'm missing William. I'm missing...old what's her name.

I'll never forget old what's her name.

She would not marry me. She married someone else. I miss the potential of marrying her. I miss the potential of using those conga drums to start a rhythm that is irresistible. No luck with that.

William is a fine guitar play and he was an even better friend. Colorado. Seems like the distant past now, and I'm still fundamentally alone.

But I've got my guitar. And my bass. The bass is in a case. The guitar is in my hands.

The future is in our hands...the past? Gone.

Picture This:

1. Find a random image
2. Write for five minutes only, inspired by that image.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Picture This: No Flowers For Her

You can't go wrong with flowers, right? Isn't that the universal way to show that you care, to show how sensitive you are, to rekindle the flames of love?

Maybe. But I don't recommend sending flowers to more than one person at the same time. Not on Valentine's Day anyway. Imagine that? Yep, I've done it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again (because I do think that it's true) the truth will always bubble to the top. If you send two people flowers, at least one of them is going to find out about it. Especially if you tell her.

Why would I tell her? Because the truth always bubbles to the top.

Why would I tell her? Maybe I've got a romantic squash wish. Set up the romance, and then find creative ways to squash it. Like sending flowers to more than one person on Valentine's Day.

Not a good idea.

The truth didn't come out at first. It took months. But when it did it was about as popular as a burp during meditation. A fart during yoga. A laugh during a funeral. Not good, not cool.

But the truth comes out.

I fixed it, though. I found someone else completely who doesn't even like flowers. No flowers for her. It does not impress her, it does not please her, she'd rather not have them in the house. So, no chance of sending her the wrong flowers.

But what do I do when she's mad?

-- doug smith

Picture This:

1. Find a random image
2. Write for five minutes only, inspired by that image.