Beginning a Creative Project

Episode Focus: Knowing when you’re stuck – and what to do about it

Creativity: What do you do when you get stuck and can’t progress your creative project?

Podcast chat: Speaker, MC and comedian, Kitty Fitton

Mindfulness: The Art of sense-making for navigating creative trouble spots

Listen and subscribe to the podcast below.

Podcast chat with Kitty Fitton

Kitty is a speaker, MC and comedian.  Although living with Parkinson’s Disease she is positive and straight up. She uses her experiences to influence, inspire and motivate others in. Kitty does regular gigs in Wellington and Palmerston North, using observational comedy in her own laconic style.

You can find out more about Kitty on her website: https://www.kittyfitton.com/

In our chat Kitty and I are talking about authenticity, her journey into comedy, and how she keeps well and lives well.

Can’t listen to the podcast? Below, you’ll find an abbreviated transcript of our chat.

Jordan: Kitty welcome, can you tell us a little bit about how you came to this place in your life and what exactly you do? What is the thing that you most want to achieve?

Kitty: Well, I didn’t choose to be at this point in my life. I didn’t choose this particular place. I don’t think many people really would. And that is essentially what this is all about in that people you do not know where you’re going, no matter how much you plan it and how much you think you know where you’re going. Life has a way of ripping the rug out from under your feet.

I started off, clearly I’m a northern girl from Leeds in West Yorkshire, and I was going to spend my entire life in Leeds quite happily and never going to go anywhere, just like lots of people do. And then I met a Kiwi in Brighton and there was no way I was going to go live in New Zealand.

I had some children and thought, I know New Zealand looks really attractive and we ended up living on the Kapiti coast,  very, very happy and settled. And then because I have a history of working in IT, I thought I might retrain and do some stuff with coding and web development.

And then one day I got a limp and the limp got worse. And cutting a long story short, the doctors told me I had early onset Parkinson’s, which had not been in the plan. And it kind of gave me a new focus. Everyone says life is too short and you need to go out and live life to the full, but nobody actually does it. It gave me a whole new shift in direction and a strong will to get out there and live my life before I can’t.

Jordan:  How how did that diagnosis impact your approach to work and creativity in general?

Kitty: I’ve always considered myself artistic and creative. But I was very frustrated with the lack of images around women and men. But people who were younger with Parkinson’s, I couldn’t find anyone that looked like me.

And this frustration led me to complain to the editor of the local Parkinson’s magazine who then asked me to speak at a seminar. And so I spoke at the seminar and I wrote a very personal story about my diagnosis. And I realised that not only did it help me and give me an outlet, but it helped other people and that was a crucial thing.

People were coming up to me for months afterwards. It inspired people to find help and encouraged people to start taking their medication. And and it felt really good to know that I could help people. So I continued to do that.  So the speaking led to the comedy.

Jordan: Yes, tell us about that.

Kitty: Well, I bumped into the chap who got me to do the seminar, in a local cafe and he said, ‘have you ever considered comedy?  I said no.  He said ‘ You really should. I think you’d be great’. And I was like, ‘Don’t be ridiculous’.

And then my Parkinson’s nurse rang me up a few days later and she says, ‘I’ve just bumped into Kevin and he says, you really should do stand-up comedy.’ And I said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. This is this is the most crazy notion. You can’t be serious’.

And she said, ‘No, he’s really serious. He used to work in the media. You should definitely try this’.

And I thought, ‘don’t be stupid’. But ever since I’d been diagnosed, I had this notion that you should go try everything at least once.

So I thought, what the hell?

And I looked online and comedy in Wellington, stumbled across the Humorous Arts Trust, which is the Fringe Bar, and I emailed them and said, ‘Hey, I’m interested in trying out comedy’. And they emailed me back within the hour. And I thought, well, that was easy!.

And I went down. I’m a woman, so women are told we’re not allowed to say this, but turns out I was pretty good! So, yeah, I continued doing it.

Jordan: That’s an interesting comment, that women aren’t supposed to say that they’re good! Do you think in New Zealand that a particular thing more than elsewhere, do you think it’s a global phenomenon for women?

Kitty: Oh, good question. I do think there is a global lack of recognition of what women can achieve.

Jordan: So how do you get your inspiration when you get up on stage? Do you just talking freely or do you plan everything that you’re going to talk about?

Kitty: Everything is meticulously planned. I mean, there are there are some things that do come off the cuff occasionally, but I’d say about 90 percent of it is planned in advance. Most most nights have a theme, so I’ll decide what I’m going to talk about. Sometimes I practice by talking to myself. And if it feels right, and it feels like me; genuine, authentic, something I would say, then I go with it. And if it doesn’t feel right, then it generally isn’t.

I do run stuff past my kids, which is a terrible idea because they hate everything I do. But I’ll write huge tracts. You write three or four pages  but only use  three or four sentences which is a huge waste. But yeah, anyone can ramble on for hours but it’s difficult to say things succinctly.

Jordan: I’m interested in what you were saying about being able to sense when our material is right. Is there anything else you can share about how you get to that point?’ 

Kitty: I’m forty six years old and I pretty much know who I am now, which is really good. When I’m writing comedy or writing a blog post, I always try and make sure that it’s as authentic and genuine as possible. People will say, ‘oh, why don’t you have a character or maybe you should dress up? ‘I just say, ‘No, this is who I am. I am not a character. I am playing a part. This is my life and all my comedy is real’.

People always say whenever I talk about having Parkinson’s, they say ‘do you really have Parkinson’s?’ And I say, ‘Of course I do. What kind of person do you think I am.?’

But but real life is far, far stranger than fiction and it really is true. And you’ve just got to look for it and find it because it’s everywhere.

Jordan: 168 Days of Magic is a podcast and a creative programme about creativity, wellness and getting things done. You’ve been referred and recommended as a highly productive person and a creative person. What are five easy things that creative people can do to enhance their productivity?

Kitty: Set goals. Know what it is you want to achieve. I actually have a little whiteboard and I write my goals and objectives on that whiteboard for each week and I have an overarching one for the month and then maybe three for the week.

Write things down. I’m a web developer and I work in tech. I’ve got a very fancy, expensive mobile phone, but ultimately I still love my notebook and I write a to do list and I cross things off it and I make sure that I go through each thing on that list and I review it regularly, making sure that things are still relevant.

Be nice to people, because you never know who you’re going to hit on the way back down. But it’s it’s amazing the opportunities that can come just through networking, especially in New Zealand. 

Be genuine, be yourself. I think that’s really important. If you don’t love what you do and you don’t believe it,  then nobody else is going to believe in it.

And the most important one is perseverance.  And keep going and don’t give up. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. 

Jordan: Thank you, Kitty. Do you have a process when it comes to defining the kind of life that you want?  Do you have any kind of practice such as reflection, meditation, visualisation? 

Kitty: I exercise. I do pilates and yoga. I do joke that everyone needs an incurable neurological disease because you don’t have any choice in the matter! Having said that, it’s remarkably good for you. And on the days when I don’t exercise, I can really tell. It is incredibly cleansing. I cycle a lot. I go down the beach, just take some good lung-fulls  of air and look at the sea. I always wanted to live near the sea, so I’m in absolute heaven. And it’s just good to be alive.

Jordan:  Go. Oh, well, that’s great. Kitty, thank you for coming on the podcast. We wish you all the best with your performing and speaking and training and living a good life, essentially.

Kitty: Thank you very much.

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