3 Behaviors That Strengthen Your Creative Work and Its Impact

“Creativity is more than mere imagination. It is imagination inseparably coupled with both intent and effort.” — Alex Osborn

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Loving your creative work isn’t enough to guarantee you’ll impact someone else’s life.

Try these three behaviors that together will strengthen your work and its impact on others.

Succumb to Your Gift

We should give in to the gift that says “Me, me. Use me.” Some creative people view the world and are compelled to make up song lyrics and melodies. They may impact more people by becoming songwriters than by giving speeches or writing articles.

Examples:

Young Choir Members SingingI’m reminded of two brothers from the 18th century. John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church, brought in the crowds with his sermons. His brother, Charles, still reaches many through his hymns that are in church hymnals today. They might be unknown men now if they had ignored their gifts and each pursued his brother’s gift.

After I became a Christian years ago, I wanted to learn all I could about God from the Bible and Christian writings. Whenever I puzzled over a difficult truth, I wrote a story to explain it to myself. I knew little about the craft of writing, but I used my underdeveloped gift of expressing through words. I published twenty-seven short stories in two books.

Of the feedback from the stories, the most significant impact remains that one story led a person to Christ.

 

Care About the People on the Other End of Your Work

Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in the creating end of our work, we forget audiences on the other end are wrapped up in wanting to spend their time on something worthwhile to them. If we wish to make an impact, we must understand what they want.

Example:

bulldog wearing eyeglasses sleeping over a good novelSee this article from Goodreads, “What Makes You Put Down a Book.” The reasons listed from what Goodreads compiled from member readers included:

  • “disliking the main character,”
  • “weak writing,”
  • “bad editing,”
  • “inappropriate,”
  • “immoral,”
  • “ridiculous (or nonexistent) plot,”
  • “slow, boring,” (46.4% members on this one) and
  •  other reasons.

Although authors can’t please all readers, they can do something about most of these issues by learning the writing craft and understanding their target audience.

Stay Stubborn

Who would spend years writing four books, which were rejected, and proceed to write a fifth? What kind of impact does four completed manuscripts stored away have on anyone?

My hand shoots into the air. “I wrote four novels and was energized to write a fifth! And I can answer those questions.”

Example:

Coming!
Coming!

My passion to express the stories in my head propelled me to persevere on each of the books. Those four dust-gathering manuscripts impacted one person: me. They taught me how to write, to find my writer’s voice, and to consider readers’ interests.

My stubbornness paid off. Pelican Book Group has contracted the fifth book. Now, I have the opportunity to impact readers’ lives. Perhaps they’ll:

  • laugh at the funny parts,
  • shiver delightfully at the first kiss,
  • find answers through the issues the hero and the heroine overcome, and
  • latch on to spiritual truths.

 

Impacting people is more likely when we express through our individual gifts, care about members of our audiences, and never give up.

What have you done that improves your creative work and your impact?

What to Do When You Have to Fight to Create

“The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, ‘Thus far and no farther’.” — Ludwig van Beethoven

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Do you feel like you’re always fighting everyone and everything to perform your creative work? Are you at the point you’re willing to make some changes to satisfy your passion and calling to create?

Here are suggestions for 7 common battles creative people face. Make a change and create!

1. What do you do when your spouse treats your creative work like a hobby that should come last in your life?

?????????????????????????????????????????????????You graciously and tenaciously:

  • ask that your Christmas, birthday, anniversary, Mother’s/Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day gifts are time, interest, or something that helps with the progress of your creative work.

 ♣

2. What do you do when your children always need you when you sit down to work?

You graciously and tenaciously:MP900178844

  • cut out a TV show at night and rise one or two hours earlier than normal and sneak off to your favorite creating place, or
  • set reasonable unavailable times when children are older, and
  • train yourself and your children to honor those times.

 ♣

3. What do you do when gatekeepers between your creative work and your audience toss your work on the reject pile?

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You graciously and tenaciously:

  • package up your creative work and take it to the next gatekeeper, or
  • learn more about your craft, rework it, have it professionally critiqued, and self-market it, or
  • let it go and move on to the next project.

 ♣

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4. What do you do when the business-end demands of your creative work drive a stake into your creativity?

You graciously and tenaciously:

  • separate the business and creative parts of your work into two part-time jobs that complement but never cross each other, or
  • hire out all or some of the business end (also see the gifts idea in number 1 to help fund assistants).

 ♣

5. What do you do when food, shelter, and clothes require you to table creative work for unsatisfying work?

You graciously and tenaciously:

  • thank God for the paying work,
  • put away a portion of your pay to fund a shorter workweek, early retirement, a sabbatical, or long vacations dedicated to creative work (also see the gifts idea in number 1 for extra savings),
  • consider getting up earlier than family members to work creatively, and
  • look for ways to use your creativity in your paying work.

 ♣

Couple Working in Homeless Shelter6. What do you do when you work creatively from home and friends, family, church members, and teachers entreat you to volunteer during the day?

You graciously and tenaciously:

  • say no and
  • volunteer on projects in the evenings or on your days off. (For me, through prayer, God guides me on my priorities so I can do this with confidence.)

7. What do you do when you your family and home are neglected because of your creative work?

You graciously and tenaciously:

  • set a reasonable work schedule that works around your precious family,
  • stick to the schedule,
  • give up eating out often or ask that in lieu of gifts you can hire someone to do all or some of your house responsibilities, and
  • consider getting up earlier than family members to work.

What tactics have you used that were effective in your battle to create?

Can You Create on Demand or on the Spot?

“Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled, to concentrate, to accept conflict and tension, to be born every day, to feel a sense of self.” — Erich Fromm

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

People have seen or heard what you’ve created. Has one of these people asked you to create a particular work for their relative? Has a fellow group member proclaimed you’re the creative one in the group and can produce on the spot what’s needed? Are you a failure because your creativity deserts you in these on-demand situations?

No. And here’s why.

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God wires creative people in various ways.

  • Some creative people are stimulated by suggested needs; others are moved by a need that strikes them as they observe others.

I know some people who are the former. I marvel at the poems of those asked to write for friends’ wedding showers or stories for their nephews’ talent-show skits. They can empathize so easily.

I’m the latter. Sometimes I’m asked to write something for a friend’s need. If I agree, my motivation is low, and I call on discipline. But if I observe a need that touches or bothers me, all kinds of ideas bombard my imagination. I volunteer!

  • Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
    Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Some are energized by the active people surrounding them; others need to be alone in silence.

I read numerous messages on an American Christian Fiction Writers e-mail loop answering the question: In what kind of environment do you write best? The responses fell mostly in these four categories:

  • A humming coffee shop.
  • Alone in my office with music going.
  • Alone in my office in silence.
  • Anywhere my laptop is.

I’m the third. Outside my office, I observe and visualize. The world stimulates my ideas. But when it comes time to write, I tote my observations, visualizations, and ideas into the world of my imagination. I have no need or desire for additional stimulation. I dislike being jarred out of my imagination by distractions. My quiet office works for me.

  • MP900341524Some think creatively as they express out loud; others find their creative juices bubble as they mull and imagine.

I’ve observed people in workshops who can come up with a creative story example in a few minutes during an exercise.

I think best by expressing aloud ideas to solve problems. But when I sit down to pull raw ideas together into a story or document, I slow down and simmer those raw ideas into a creative stew.

Image courtesy of markuso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of markuso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, never judge yourself or others as inferior in how we go about being creative. The final product is what usually matters. Even the final product will be viewed differently by various audiences.

How are you wired? What works best for you?

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