Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


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Creativity Checkup

It’s been just over two months since we first started this blog and invited you to begin searching for your Creativity’s personality and description.

So, how is your Creativity coming along? Have you discovered new things? Name? Surroundings? Quirks? Likes? Dislikes?

Here’s your opportunity to share your discoveries. We’d love to hear how you and your Creativity are getting along. 🙂


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Building Trust in Your Creativity

An adventurer in the jungle exploring a Mayan pyramidImagine this. You’re standing on the edge of an unexplored jungle in South America. Yep, South America (which Ellie in Up so succinctly described as: “It’s like America, but south!“). You’re all kitted out with safari hat, pocket laden vest, nifty quick-dry trousers and humongous backpack. Ready to set forth on an adventure – to find the lost treasure of kleptomaniac Mayan King Illtakethatifupleaz.

Clichéd, I know, but bear with me.

Your trusty guide for this occasion is: Macgyver. Or Indiana Jones if you prefer. Must be someone with incredible survival skills and the unmatched ability to outdo any baddies by the end of the episode/movie.

With me so far?

You turn to your trusty guide, and you have the following conversation.

YOU: So, Mr. Trusty Guide of my Choosing, sir. Where are we off to?

TRUSTYGUIDE: We’re off into the depths of this disease and baddie-ridden rain forest. Ready?

YOU: Um…Well, I’m not so sure really. Will it be safe?

TRUSTYGUIDE: Of course! I am <insert name of Trusty Guide of Your Choice> and I always find my way out of these situations, with my sidekick intact (unless you’re the kind of sidekick who turns out to be a spy in the third act). My methods may be unorthodox, but the result is always the same. Success!

YOU: Will we encounter quick sand?

TRUSTYGUIDE: Very possibly.

YOU: How will we get out?

TRUSTYGUIDE: There’ll probably be a vine nearby. Or I’ll use my gun. Or there’ll be a docile, nonvenemous snake you could throw me.

YOU: Well? Which one will it be?

TRUSTYGUIDE: Won’t know till we get there.

YOU: What about the baddies? They’ll attack when we get close to the treasure. It will look like we’re not going to make it. There’ll be booby traps and double crosses. What will we do?

TRUSTYGUIDE: I’ll figure it out. That’s what I do. It’s no fun if you know all the answers before you get there.

YOU: But we have to be prepared! How will you fix things if you don’t have a paperclip, duct tape and a matchbox on your pocket to begin with?

You contemplate this conversation as you study the passing rain forest floor, now bound, gagged and slung over your Trusty Guide’s shoulder.

“I would never say those things,” you think. “I’d be so excited to be with my favourite hero I’d be jumping at the chance to set forth. I trust that he will always get me out of trouble. That’s what he’s known for.”

Notice that word? Trust. We trust that Macgyver, or Indiana Jones or countless other action heros will eventually come out on top because that’s what must happen. Good triumphs over evil.

Does this always happen in the real world? Not always. In fact hardly ever at most levels of government, but let’s stay on topic here…

Just because things won’t go as expected, doesn’t mean you should sabotage your adventures before you leave by questioning how you’ll handle every little occurrence.

For instance, have you ever had this conversation (or a thought process like it) when contemplating a story idea?

YOU: I’ve got a brilliant idea for a story!

CREATIVITY: Do tell?

YOU: A super computer takes over the world and begins bumping people off because it feels the population has become unsustainable. You have action, you have moral dilemmas, and I’ll add an autistic boy to provide the answer with a little help from a dashing  hero who falls for the boy’s mother.

CREATIVITY: Cool! Let’s get started.

You and Creativity have several long discussions about how things are going to pan out and so on and so forth. Then you start writing. About three chapters in, you start having this discussion.

YOU: How am I going to solve this?

CREATIVITY: We’ve already worked that out. We’ll…

YOU: Yeah, I know what we’ll do at the very end, but what about the baddies? What about the bugs in the code? What about the end chase? What about…

CREATIVITY: You’re on chapter three. We haven’t got there yet. I’ll tell you when we get there.

YOU: I can’t write it if I don’t know where I’m going!

And you leave in a huff. Creativity bangs head against wall. The manuscript becomes silverfish fodder.

At this point I should say that I appreciate it is very important to know where you’re going when you begin a project. And it’s very important to map out in some level of detail how you’re going to get there. Some people need to have everything all scoped from beginning to end before they put pen to paper. Other people just write. Either way, you need to trust your Creativity.

All Creativities will have moments where they’re not sure what to do. Macgyver and Indiana Jones have their moments of surprise, confusion and indecision too. But give them all long enough in a situation, plus enough paper clips or rubber bands, and they’ll begin making connections. Perhaps your Creativity sees something that he/she can use. Perhaps he/she realises a change needs to be made earlier for all of this to fit together.

Whatever the case, don’t take away your Creativity’s chance to stand in the room and look at the problem.  Instead of hesitating at the edge of the rain forest, asking for answers to every problem, let your Creativity get stuck in the quick sand, navigate the booby traps and discover the double agent in ‘real time.’ Not necessarily while you’re writing, but perhaps while you’re planning. Give your Creativity opportunity to get in and get messy. To try different things. To live in the moment.

This doesn’t just apply to a creative writing setting, it applies to any problem you’re trying to solve. Creativity needs time, input and the opportunity to play around with the situation. Take away any of these things, and your adventure stops before it’s even started.

So give it a try. Step into the rain forest. The leeches are lovely and warm this time of year.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art


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Cheesy Advice…The Good Kind

CheeseHave you ever noticed the wide variety of books, magazines, websites, blogs etc. on the subjects of writing and cultivating your creativity? Have you ever noticed how they often seem to contradict each other?

Write with your audience in mind. / Write like you’re the only one who’ll ever read it.

Write, write, write; especially when you don’t feel like writing. / Write only when you feel you have something to say.

Surround yourself with inspiring objects. / Declutter! An empty space provides room for creativity.

Listen to music to get you in the mood. / Silence! Don’t drown out your ideas with other sounds. 

See what I mean? Not just different views. Diametrically opposite views. How do you know which one is right? Is there such a thing as ‘right’ in this case?

Perhaps we should rephrase the question. How do you know which one is right for you and your Creativity? The answer is: Cheese!

Well, not exactly ‘cheese’ but run with it for a bit and you’ll see what I mean.

Cheddar or Bulgarian Feta?

Although most people like cheese, none of them agree on which is the best cheese and how it should be eaten. Some swear by melted cheddar in toasted sandwiches, while others are adamant that feta with coppa and sun-dried tomatoes is the ultimate cheese eating experience. Even those who prefer melted probably started out as kids with tiger bread (grilled cheese and Vegemite), progressed to pizza with extra toppings and then discovered fondue.

Are those who prefer melted cheddar wrong and the feta lovers right? “No,” you say. “Everyone has different tastes.” And you’d be right.

In the same way that people have different tastes and personalities, Creativitys differ. Or should that be Creativities? Making up words is tough! English grammar flummoxes me every time! What was I saying?

There are some truths that apply to just about all cheeses. You can add just about all cheeses to salads (depending on the salad). Just about all cheeses melt. And then there’s cheese and crackers. That’s tradition. Feta, cheddar, edam, bleu, smoked, cream. It doesn’t matter. You can add them all to crackers and yumminess ensues.

It’s the same with creativity. There are some truths that apply to just about all of us Creativitys/ies. We all need input – exposure to information or examples of what we are expected to produce – before we can truly come up with something new. We all need a certain amount of freedom. We all need a little nurture and protection from scathing responses to our work. We all need bright colours, outlandish clothing and permission to dance barefoot on cafe tables in the rainy season. Or is that just me?

Ahem.

There are some situations where a certain kind of cheese is just perfect for a certain kind of dish. For example: lasagna and grated parmesan. One would think lasagna and grated bleu cheese would not work so well (but then I’m not a bleu cheese person). Creativities are the same. There are some situations where they perform brilliantly, and others that are just not their thing. The situations mentioned at the beginning of this post are cases in point.

Some Creativitys are like water pumps. When you first start pumping in the morning, all sorts of icky water comes out. Useless stuff. But it has to be pumped out so the clear water can start to flow. Once you’ve got going, then you start finding all sorts of gems and ideas. But you’ve got to get past the junk first. In this case, ‘write write write even when you don’t want to’ is good advice. It forces out the dirty water so you can get through to the clear.

Some Creativities (I’ve decided I like it better with the ie) enjoy interaction with their intended audience. I personally like to invite an imaginary audience member around to my place for a cup of tea and a buttered pomegranate so we can get to know one another and I can work out what makes him/her laugh. As I get to know them better, I understand what I have to do in order to get (and keep) their attention. However, once I’ve got that worked out, I tend to boot them out and have fun all by myself. Only later do I invite them back. But perhaps your Creativity has a phobia of the intended audience, and clams up completely when they’re around. In that case, ‘write like you’re the only one who’ll read it.’

See what I mean? I’m not saying never take anyone’s writing advice again. I’m saying view writing/creativity advice as trying a new kind of cheese. Instead of reading someone’s writing tips and thinking, “My goodness, I’m doing it all wrong” or “My way’s better anyway,” think of it as a cheese platter. Try it. If you like it, great! Add it to your list of acceptable cheeses. If not, then don’t feel like you’re a failure, or that the other person is wrong because he or she subscribes to a different method. Concede different tastes. Each time you taste, you are coming to a better understanding of your Creativity. And I that’s what it’s all about.

Because even the best writing advice might just not work for your Creativity, and if it’s not working then you’re not getting the most out of him or her. You might even be surpressing the very thing you wish to cultivate. So sit down with your Creativity and try tasting different advice. Work out which work and which don’t. Enjoy the experience and learn from it.

Now, where’s my parmesan? Bring on the smelly-sock-cheese!


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Does Your Creativity Have a Name?

So hopefully by now you’ve at least got some idea of who your Creativity is and where he or she lives. But, do you know your Creativity’s name?

“Creativity? I thought her name was Creativity.”

And if she (or he) is okay with you calling her Creativity, then that’s fine. But sometimes your Creativity has a pet name. I have several. I’m called ‘Tivity’ or ‘Tiv’ for short, and sometimes, when I’m going undercover, I’m called ‘Treya Vitic.’ If you look really closely, you’ll notice that’s the letters of Creativity all swapped around. There’s a fancy word for it, but I can never think of what it is. Which is why I work in Imagination and not the Motor Cortex.

What about your Creativity? Is he called Mr. Creativity to you? Or perhaps Hoopla the Yellow Bunny? Uncle Fuzzy?

What does your Creativity call herself/himself? What do you call her/him? They’re not always the same name. Ask and see what happens. After which, comment and tell me all about it.


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Your Creativity’s Space

Kiosk on the beach

How are you getting along with your Creativity? We’re already hearing of tentative first meetings and surprising discoveries.

For example, Evan’s Creativity is ‘autumn brown…fiery reds, maroon and gold.’ He also says, ‘Arabesque…is the core of my Creativity’s personality. Not completely unhinged, but inherently nuts. Whimsically wonderful but stringently against the rectitude of sensibility. In truth, with no regard for etiquette!’ Way to go Evan! We can’t wait to hear more about your Creativity.

Have you found him/her yet? Don’t worry if you haven’t. It’s still early days. A good method for getting to know your Creativity is finding the space he or she likes to inhabit.

For example, I have a workshop. Would you like to see it? Click here and I’ll give you a quick tour.

Obviously, your Creativity will be a little (or a lot) different. In the same way that your personality is different to my Jessica’s personality, so your Creativity will be different to me.

So, what kind of place do you think your Creativity hangs out in? Is it one place or multiple? Is it a calm place, or a busy place? Is it a tidy place or a cluttered place?

I personally love disorganised clutter. I discover all sorts of unlikely connections between things when they’re all lying around together. I find if everything’s all in it’s own little pigeon hole, then nothing gets to interact with anything else, and everything gets boring.

But perhaps your Creativity needs things to be in order of highest to lowest, or yellow to black, or lightest to heaviest. What feels right to you? Go by gut instinct. This is super important! Rely on how you feel about it. The more sensible sections of your brain will want to get in on the act and start drawing flow charts, assessing risks, measuring things, making lists and generally telling you how silly your feelings are. Don’t listen. Ask them to shut up. Gag them with duct tape. Scoop them up with a front end loader and dump them unceremoniously in a padded cell. Do what ever you have to do until you are able to get to your real feelings about the matter.

Your Creativity’s personality and looks are usually closely linked to the place he or she inhabits. For instance, is he a Jamaican with long dreadlocks and bright shorts, standing on an endless white beach with a kiosk of ideas? Or is he a homeless man with his own rubbish dump, continually finding gems amidst the garbage?

Tristan describes his Creativity as ‘a bit like a gardener. Plants ideas and does a lot of work on them at the start, to make sure they’re well rooted, then he goes off and tends to his other plants, maybe plant a few new ones, and then comes back. However, sometimes a number of the plants mysteriously merge into one super plant. I suppose Creativity must think it’s easier to manage that way.’

If you’re having trouble finding Creativity on his or her own, then try finding the environment Creativity inhabits. Sometimes you’ll bump into him or her while you’re exploring.

At this point I should mention that some people will never quite see their Creativity. Perhaps they’re not visual people. Perhaps their Creativity is too shy. But if you try, you should at least get the feeling that there is a little creative spark within you who you can talk with. And sometimes, that’s all you need.

We’d love to start a little gallery section on our site with pictures or descriptions of your Creativitys. If you’d like e-mail us your description or picture, send it to creativitysworkshopATgmailDOTcom.

In the mean time, please comment and let us know about your Creativity’s surroundings.


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The Need for Creativity

An idea light globe masquerading as a hot air balloonWe use creativity every day. We use it when we run out of sugar, and decide to try honey in our tea. We use it when the freeway is blocked and we try an alternate route to work. We use it when we realise the stapler is as good a paperweight as the Italian snow globe the mother-in-law gave us, which we’ve just broken. Creativity also comes in to play as we try to figure out how we’re going to explain it to her.

Even those of us who consider ourselves less than creative – drink our tea without sugar, dutifully sit in traffic, and never use expensive gifts as paperweights – still use our creativity to get through life.

But many of us believe: There are creative people, and then there’s me. I’m just not creative.

I’ll let you in on a secret. All of us have creativity inside us. It’s how we protect and nurture it that makes the difference between those who are often described as ‘creative’ and those who drink unsugared tea.

“So?” says you. “I’ve managed just fine up until now. Why does it matter?”

Taking a creative approach to work, school, learning and life in general will not only help you stand out from the crowd, but enjoy things so much more.

For example:

  • At work, what distinguishes you from the new computer software that can do your job in half the time?
  • At school, what is the difference between your essay and the 30 other essays on the teacher’s desk?
  • At home, why does the discovery of long lost fabric fill you with excitement?

The answer to all of these questions should be: Your creative approach.

Developing your creative ability allows you to see possibilities in all sorts of situations. It shows your boss you’re a valuable member of the team. It provides a refreshing change to the teacher who reads your essay. It motivates you to make new curtains, a new dress, a new apron, a coat for the dog, a rag doll for your daughter…the list goes on.

“Okay,” you say. “But how does one become more creative?”

I’m glad you asked! At least I hope you asked. My mindreading skills are not exactly legendary. I work mainly on mind-assuming skills.

There are many books, magazines, blogs etc. which deal with creativity and how to develop it. All of them have merit. However, I’d like to introduce you to a different way of looking at creativity. Most methods of developing creativity involve steps, flow charts, circular diagrams, intensive exercises etc. All those have their place. But this blog has a different purpose. I’d like to show you how to get to know her.

Yes, I do know I used the word ‘her.’ Your Creativity may be a boy, but mine is most definitely a girl. A talkative, excitable girl with ridiculous…I mean interesting dress sense and a fascinating workshop.

Ah, now the title all makes sense. Yes, I would like to invite you into my Creativity’s workshop (that is the workshop belonging to Creativity) and demonstrate how you can become friends with your inner Creativity.

Now before you scream, “weird!” and leave as quickly as possible, please give the idea a moment to settle in your mind. After all, most of us are used to that little disembodied voice in our head known as our conscience, and we’re often very comfortable to think of it almost as a separate entity. Well why not try the idea of viewing your Creativity as friend inside your head – a friendship which could lead to many enjoyable and hysterical adventures.

This blog will show how this relationship works (and sometimes doesn’t work) from a ‘normal’ person’s point of view (me) and from Creativity’s point of view. I mentioned she’s talkative. You’ll see for yourself very soon.

I realise this approach is unconventional, but that’s Creativity in general. If you embrace the weird and wacky, life becomes far more interesting…

And on that note, I have nothing else to say except welcome to my blog and please leave a comment.