The Spark File with Susan Blackwell and Laura Camien

The Spark File with Susan Blackwell and Laura Camien

Your one stop shop for creative ideas and inspiration. Each week on The Spark File podcast, Susan Blackwell and Laura Camien reach into their spark files and share stories, ideas and fascinations to ignite your imagination. Obsessed with creativity, Blackwell and Camien also talk with artists and makers, movers and shakers who have taken the spark of inspiration and fanned it into a flame. Hear from inspiring creatives like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sara Bareilles, Eric Stonestreet, Jonathan Groff, Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich, Zachary Quinto, Leslie Odom Jr, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Billy Eichner, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Karen Olivo, Sutton Foster, Michael R. Jackson and many more about their passions and their failures, their inspirations and their aspirations. Refill your creative fish pond with new ideas and fresh perspectives. Listen, then take it and make it!


May 3, 2023 29 mins

Holy Moly! Season 4 of The Spark File is coming to an end! In this episode, Susan + Laura reminisce on some of our favorite sparks from this season. .
And with a bonus spark inspired by Milwaukee Bucks player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who left us with this mini ted talk when asked if he believed this season was a failure because they didn’t win the playoffs. Just because you don’t win, do we count that as a fail?

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Ever wonder what's needed to take your creative project to the next level? Or wonder if maybe good is good enough? How do we know when to invest the additional time and energy it's going to take to go from Good to Great? If you're ready or when you're ready to level up your work, Susan and Laura discuss the difference between Good and Great, and some of the factors it takes to get there. Inspired by the book, Go...

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Is there anything better than a well-crafted personal story told with humor, authenticity and heart? Even better if its a TRUE story, right? Well, the folks at The Moth have boiled the art of storytelling down to a science. In this week's episode, Laura and Susan share how sparked they are by The Moth and their book How To Tell a Story. We all have one - tune in to learn how to tell YOUR story!

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Friends, trust us when we say it is valuable, meaningful, and potentially essential that you take the time to celebrate your creative wins - large and small! Join us this week as Susan and Laura discuss why it's so important that we take the time to acknowledge and reflect on the milestones and the conclusions, the hits and the misses. 

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Do you have a creative project that has never seen the light of day because you just don't think it's ready to share yet? Despite years of effort even? Do you have a creative project you've dreamt of making but you haven't even started yet? Because the thought of it not turning out great keeps you from even trying? 
On this week's episode, Laura and Susan dig into the plight of the perfectionist.  Thank...

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March 29, 2023 51 mins

Have you gotten into the AI craze yet? Have you asked Chat GPT to write your next marketing plan or promotional copy? Have you asked it to write lines of dialogue, jokes for a stand up routine or a synopsis for your pitch? Have you asked it to write your resume? This week, Susan and Laura dive into what AI might be great for,  where it's limitations are, and where it's headed. Do creatives have anything to worry about? Tu...

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March 22, 2023 58 mins

Ever wonder what exactly is going on in your brain when you have an Ah-ha moment? 
On this week's episode of The Spark File podcast, Susan + Laura discuss what is transpiring in your head when you get that spark of an idea - and the rush of excitement that goes with it!
Wouldn't it be great if we could understand it so that we can create conducive conditions to invite more and more Ah-ha moments to happen?!

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Were there stashes of gold hidden around the country after the Civil War? Did leaders of the confederate south intend this money fund a second Civil War? Was the outlaw Jesse James responsible for hiding some of this treasure? And has it recently been found?⁠
💥 ⁠
Tune in this week to find out more about the Knights of the Golden Circle, their confederacy gold, and what role Jesse James may or may not have played in it. ⁠

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March 8, 2023 67 mins

This week, Laura and Susan discuss that tremor in the force you felt a few weeks ago when New York Magazine's The Cut handed us all The New Rules.
These 194 rules on how to exist in polite society, sparked conversations everywhere. 
Listen in to get our take on their take on everything from dating apps to work slacks, texting friends and lovers or engaging with stangers and others... Are we all doing it wrong??

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You know at The Spark File, we are not afraid to contemplate our own mortality, especially if doing so enhances our lives and our creativity. 

According to the author, Michael Hebb, “Of the many critical conversations we will all have throughout our lifetime, few are as important as the ones discussing death—and not just the practical considerations, such as DNRs and wills, but what we fear, what we hope, and how we want t...

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February 22, 2023 60 mins

This week, Laura and Susan get sparked by a corporate apology that was so authentic it made the news. Discovering the components necessary for an apology to be sincere, this episode explores the painful blocks that keep good people from being able to apologize, AND the creative ways artists have used apologies (or the absence of apologies) to inspire their creative work. Sites like share incredible sparks of apology ...

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Ever wonder what you can accomplish in an 8 minute phone call?
Turns out... A LOT! In this week's episode of The Spark File podcast, Susan + Laura dig into the The New York Times feature "The 7 Day Happiness Challenge" and explore the little things that can make a BIG difference in our relationships and our lives. Take a listen, then ask yourself, "who you gonna call?"...

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Do you feel that people value you only for your output, so you put work above all else, even above getting a good night’s sleep? Or have you ever been so busy that you've uttered the dreaded humble brag “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” In this episode, Laura and Susan discuss what going without sleep can do to your life and your creativity, the normalization of grind culture, some positive steps we all can take to rest and rejuvena...

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February 1, 2023 62 mins

Why is it so hard for us to break patterns that are keeping us from our goals? In this episode, Susan and Laura discuss and discover the ways in which we as humans and artists can navigate lasting positive change. They dive into the powerful process and book “Immunity to Change,” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, which unravels the concept of change and specifically how to close the gap between aspiration/good intention and ac...

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January 25, 2023 70 mins

What do a 1998 wall calendar, a couple’s disappearance, and a half-burned postcard have to do with one man’s quest to create the perfect home? In this episode, Laura and Susan discuss the true story of a film editor who took his own obsession for acquiring his dream home perhaps a little too far. Petty crime, lost relationships, and a last-minute trip to a remote part of Spain are just a few of the pieces to the puzzle of this incr...

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January 18, 2023 63 mins

Words and language have real power. In this episode, Susan and Laura explore the amazing works and incredible life of someone who managed to harness that power to the benefit of so many: Toni Morrison, Nobel and Pulitzer prize winning author and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As they pull back the curtain to look at her work and creative process, Susan and Laura discuss Toni’s ability to center her own world in her...

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January 11, 2023 60 mins

Artists and athletes have a lot more in common than one might think, but our culture seems to encourage choosing one over the other.  In this episode, Laura and Susan discuss what artists can learn from athletes...including training, incremental progress, the discomfort of having a beginner’s mind, and so much more.

Want to know if working with The Spark File might be right for you? Check out our most popular program - BLAZE, a 6 mo...

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You know the old trope that one must suffer for their art? That creativity is somehow the byproduct of mental illness or addiction or self-harm?  It is time for that idea to go! An examined life can contribute greatly to our enjoyment of life, and to our creative work. In this episode, Susan and Laura discuss the relation of mental health to creativity and the innovative ways in which creators like Neal Brennan, Selena Gomez, Jonah...

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Susan and Laura have found that when they bring up the idea of promoting one’s own work with their creative clients, the idea is almost always met with a sense of dread. 
So, how can creators combat this feeling? By making marketing part of the creative process. In this episode, Laura and Susan explore the methodologies and philosophies of the innovative Blue Man Group and how this unique approach to marketing, (which Cams was ...

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Many people have the desire to spin their lived experience into their creative self-expression, Susan and Laura included. This desire can present a conundrum as these creations can feature people other than the creator, or have ideas in them that might make a loved one uncomfortable, or are about a topic that some close to us might consider to be taboo. So how do we create with freedom and without fear? In this episode, Susan and L...

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