The Commuter Challenge

23 January 2008

About the Challenge

by CC @ 00:37

What is the Commuter Challenge? In brief, it is a monthly effort in which we attempt to harness our creativity to our competitiveness.

Creativity is a funny thing. Being creative is rewarding, particularly in retrospect, when you have something to show for it. Yet for most of us, creative activities tends to fall by the wayside, in favor of the mundane yet necessary tasks that fill up our lives. For most of us, a simple desire to create is just not enough. We need two additional ingredients in order to make things happen. and they are:

  1. a challenge; and
  2. a deadline.

The first ingredient, the challenge, is what forces us to take the first step. It provides the initial spur that gets us off of our lazy duffs. It sets the subject matter beforehand, providing a focus for our energy. And it lends a subtle air of competition to the proceedings, which is no less effective for being largely illusory.

The second ingredient, the deadline, is what forces us to take the last step. All too often in creative pursuits, we hit a roadblock halfway through the process. Our enthusiasm deflates when we have to make a compromise in order to proceed, or when we are forced to settle for anything less than the grandiose vision in our mind’s eye. The deadline forces us to accept the fact that “imperfect and completed” is better than “perfect and nonexistent”, and convinces us to see it through to the end.

The Commuter Challenge was begun by us, Ryan Finholm and Brian Raiter, as a way to keep us creatively active. The name came about because we both spent a fair amount of time commuting for our jobs. It indicates that the challenge is something we find time for in the cracks of our daily lives.

The challenge works as follows. At the beginning of every month, we pose a creative task. The challenges can involve anything from poetry to sculpture to music to mixology. At the end of the month, we share the fruits of our labor with each other (and, via this website, with the rest of the world). While the competitive element is considered useful as a motivator during the creative process, there is no scoring at the end, other than to note whether or not the minimum requirements of the challenge were successfully met.

This website serves two purposes. First, it provides a record of past challenges and submissions, so that our creative outputs don’t just languish in a desk drawer. Second, it provides a forum for commentary and discussion about our efforts.

Anyone who wishes to challenge themselves along with us is welcome. Just let us know and we’ll include you in our emails. Brian Raiter can be reached at breadbox [whirlpool] muppetlabs [spot] com, and Ryan Finholm can be reached at ryanfinholm [whirlpool] hotmail [spot] com. Please note that when you ask to be notified, that just means that you’ll get one email a month from us describing the challenge. There is no implied obligation to participate in any particular challenge.

no comments