Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly


9 Comments

The Unique Power of Ideas

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
—  George Bernard Shaw

The wonders of light bulb momentsThis quote has really got me thinking about the wonders of our light bulb moments.

They don’t discriminate. Anyone – old or young, male or female, rich or poor – can have an idea.

They are free. It doesn’t cost you anything to come up with an idea. You don’t really need the fancy gadgets, expensive locations or specific skills. While these things can be used in the pursuit of ideas, the ideas themselves are not dependant on them. They come flitting into your head without a prepaid plan or tax attached.

There are no quotas. There’s no little man in a little office somewhere metering out the number of ideas distributed in a day. You are free to come up with as many of them as you want. There is no penalty or official limit.

They can be shared. As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, once you have an idea, you can share it with anyone. It can travel through word of mouth, advertisements, art etc. And the more people who see the idea, the more copies of those ideas you’ll have. Ideas can be copied into the minds of as many people as you like without you having to restock the item.

They have the power to change things. Ideas can change almost anything, from the way you feed your dog to the way you live your life. Ideas can change the world.

Can you think of any additions to the list?

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Advertisements


3 Comments

When Procrastination Isn’t Procrastination

I’ve recently been reading this article.

The article made me feel so much better about myself and my methods. I do feel I incubate my ideas. I’m conscious of them brewing in the back of my mind, percolating into something I will eventually put on to paper or into practice.

This harks back to a previous post about the Creativity Sponge. Time is an important part of the creative process, most times a necessary part. While we want our families and workmates to appreciate our need for incubation time, we also need to respect our own need for that time. This means knowing when not to force something, when to go for a walk, when to leave the idea for a week, a month, until another idea collides with it to take the idea from ordinary to inspirational.

Thoughtful Creativeness

I think the term that best describes this is ‘Thoughtful Creativeness’ – that which comes from time and consideration before anything tangible appears on paper.

We often equate Creativity with spontaneity – loud, unpredictable, surprising etc. But how much of this perception is actually the flurry of activity after a lengthy incubation process?

There will always be those moments of instant inspiration, witty responses right on cue and random ramblings of genius that you cannot prepare for. They just pop out. That’s the creative expression we expect, and is the hardest part of Creativity to predict and quantify. But, Thoughtful Creativeness is something better, more special and, if mastered, far more useful.

How often do we hear a person who has written a book, made a movie or written a song say something along the lines of, “The idea began several years ago when some-unusual-event-or-fact intrigued me. It took me several years before I really knew how I wanted to portray it.” That’s incubation.

How You Can Practice Thoughtful Creativeness

You’ve probably already experienced Thoughtful Creativeness. For example, have you ever been working on a project and suddenly have a brilliant idea for a final touch? The idea seems to just ‘come to you’ or ‘pop into your head.’ But really, could you have come up with that idea if you had not put in the effort and preparation which got you to that point? All the thought that came before incubated and nurtured the ‘flash’ of inspiration.

The biggest part of Thoughtful Creativeness is relaxing to the point where you trust both your Creativity and yourself. When you feel that little bud of inspiration forming in your mind, don’t feel like you have to do something with it straight away. Water it. Keep it warm. Shine encouragement on it. Be gentle and allow it to blossom in its own time. Ideas don’t die from nurturing and patience. They get better, they grow, gradually getting to the point where they open up into beautiful and colourful results that others will marvel at.

Have you ever experienced Thoughtful Creativeness? Do you have any tips on how to develop the skill? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art


18 Comments

How I Ruined a Perfectly Good Pen in the Shower, or The Creativity Sponge

A sponge and bucket surrounded by bubbles.Tivity says I’m being too informative and not entertaining enough. So, I shall attempt to rectify this by explaining how I ruined a perfectly good pen in the shower.

I have long hair, and it takes me ages to wash. And usually, during hair washing, I come up with some of my best ideas. Which is really annoying. Why? Because I have no access to pen and paper. Thinking about it, one could probably scrawl something on the mist covered glass of the shower, but I don’t think that’s the most reliable means of preserving genius.

My method for idea preservation is repeating the idea to myself over and over until I’m dry and can find writing implements. However, on the day in question, I got distracted; probably by shampoo in the eye or someone turning the dishwasher on and instantly relieving me of the hot water.

And so this is why I found myself some fifteen minutes later, fully clothed, sitting on the shower stool with pen and paper trying to mentally recreate the moment I had my idea. That’s also the point where I dropped the pen and discovered ball point down on tiles is not healthy.

(Now do you understand why I’m the informative one and Creativity’s the story-teller?)

This seemingly random story does have a purpose. I get my best ideas and connect with my Creativity the strongest when I’m in the shower. I have a relative who had the idea for a brilliant invention while on the toilet. I have two closer family members who get ideas walking from their desk to the toilet or the water fountain.

What do all these places have in common, apart from the obvious ablution factor?

Notice they are not the desk, or in front of the computer, or while staring at a blank piece of paper, or while being stared at by a boss or teacher or mother. They are alone time. Stress free time. Time when no one is expecting you to fix the situation, to find the solution, to solve the unsolvable. And that’s the time when you get the flash of inspiration.

And this brings me to one of my favourite quotes of all time:

“Your most brilliant ideas come in a flash, but the flash comes only after a lot of hard work. Nobody gets a big idea when he is not relaxed, and nobody gets a big idea when he is relaxed all the time.” – Edward Blakeslee

Why Is It So?

Imagine, for a moment, your Creativity is a sponge. (Tiv says she’s a purple sponge with green polka dots. I’ll leave you to erase that disturbing image from your mind on your own. I’m stuck with it.) Now imagine you are lowering your Creativity sponge into a bucket of special idea-inducing water. She soaks it up with gusto. Now, you pull your sponge out of the bucket and squeeze. Lovely ideas, concepts, jokes, random hilarity etc. drip everywhere. Life is good.

Next, without releasing your hand, stick the sponge back in the bucket. Pull the sponge out and squeeze again. Notice that far less creative goodness comes out this time?

If you’re holding the sponge tightly, no matter how much water you immerse it in, the sponge won’t soak it up – and therefore will not have anything to give you when you squeeze.

Where Am I Going With This?

When you need an idea, you squeeze your Creativity. She bursts forth with all the amazing brilliance you know and love. However, as you become more stressed you’ll notice her productivity begins to drop. You’re squeezing her for ideas, but she’s got nothing left to give. That’s what the dyspeptic haddock look is telling you. You need to let go, give her some breathing room and an opportunity to absorb more idea juice.

How long does that take? It really depends on the Creativity, and the problem. Sometimes it takes minutes. Sometimes days. But relaxing and providing Creativity with breathing room is a very important part of the creative process. Do not rush it, and do not squeeze too early. Be prepared to relax. This is not slacking off! It is giving your Creativity sponge time to refresh. And it is just as important, if not more so, than the squeezing step.

(Note to parents, teachers, friends, employers: If you happen to see your child, student, friend or employee staring into space, or walking aimlessly around when they should be working on a problem, resist the urge to shake them back to reality and force them into a ‘working’ frame of mind. They are most probably communing with their inner sponge…er…Creativity, whether they consciously realise it or not. At times, it’s that little moment of blankness, of daydream, that provides the inspiration for what they’re about to do. Not always, but sometimes. So give them the benefit of the doubt, at least once, and see what happens. You might get to watch that wonderful moment where Creativity sparks and ideas are born.)

What about you? Where or when do you get your brilliant flashes? Please share. We’d love to know.


3 Comments

The Benefits of Befriending Your Creativity

Okay. So now you’re probably finding the whole idea of personifying your Creativity a bit strange, and although it sounds cute and is fun to read, you think you’ll just remain a distant observer. Fair enough. But let me briefly explain why this concept might actually be useful.

Predict the ‘Elusive’

You’ve probably heard many descriptions of creativity. It’s a mysterious and elusive force some people master while others spend their time fruitlessly waiting for it to appear. It is a process – if you put yourself in the right mind-set, at the right time, in the right circumstances you will eventually produce creative thought. The descriptions are numerous and varied.

However, most of these descriptions foster the idea that you need to control your creativity. If you find the spark, grab it. Don’t let go. Recreate the same circumstances so you can reproduce the experience. Follow these steps to bring it back into predictable line.

Steps and cycles do have their place when you need creative inspiration, as we’ll discuss another time. But what if, instead of viewing your creativity as something to be controled, you viewed it as someone to interact with?

What if instead of viewing it as an unpredictable force, you were able to view it as a friend? You could learn your Creativity’s likes and dislikes. When does she feel creative, and when does she feel stifled? When is she bursting to provide you with the answer, and when is she sulking because of something you let happen? What can you do to make her feel creative again?

And most importantly, how can you call her to action when you need her? What if, instead of rummaging through the scraps of paper on your noticeboard for your 10 point list on how to spark your creativity, you could mentally pop around to her place and ask for help in person?

The Second Voice

You’ve heard it said, “Two heads are better than one”? In a way, your Creativity can become your second head. She’ll bounce ideas off you. You’ll mention your problems to her. She’ll say the wacky, insane things you’re afraid to say and you’ll be the voice of reason. She’ll raspberry at you when you select her tamest idea and you’ll smile to yourself as you put it into practice.

Thinking of your Creativity as a separate character, allows part of you to voice ideas your rational mind would be too embarrassed to let out. It provides you plausible deniability. The idea’s insane/ridiculous/brilliantly crazy. That’s okay, it wasn’t me, it was Creativity. She made me think it. The freedom this provides is delightfully liberating, and does wonders for your creative thought. It gives you permission to play with absurd ideas that you may otherwise have dismissed as inappropriate or childish. And it’s those ideas that are the necessary fodder for creative thought.

And besides, who doesn’t want to have someone to blame for our mistakes, verbal faux pax and word puns? Isn’t this why younger siblings are all the rage?

Feel More Comfortable in Your Process

I speak from experience when I say that viewing Creativity this way can take a lot of the stress out of the creative process. If I need an idea, I know where to go. I know I have a friend who can help me out. If I have a creative block, or am coming up with less than stellar ideas, I check on my Creativity. Is she annoyed at me? Is she feeling okay? Does she need a break? Does she need some new experiences? Am I actually listening to her, or trying to do things without her?

Getting to know your Creativity allows you to understand your own creative process. What helps it. What hinders it. (I use ‘it’ here to refer to the process, not the Creativity. I mention this to keep me out of my Creativity’s bad books. She views these things very seriously.) It also helps you to understand what you can do to increase the efficiency of your process.

In short, this is more than just a cute gimmick. It’s a concept that could help you become the creative person you want to be. So don’t be shy. Give it a try. 🙂

(On a side point, you may notice that the capital C in Creativity seems to appear and disappear. In this blog we will use an upper case ‘C’ when referring to personifications of Creativity, and a lower case ‘c’ when we are talking about creativity in general.)