12 Ways You Know Your Creative Work Is Your Gift

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God..” —Leo Buscaglia

Image courtesy of -Marcus- at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of -Marcus- at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When we learn a new technique or have a success in our creative work, it’s easy to believe it’s what we were called to do.

We need to stand just as confident when our work seems inferior or we’ve received a rejection.

12 Ways to Know Your Creative Work Is Your Gift

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Talent from birth. Not necessarily good talent, but you’ve got passion. You never understood why you were punished for drawing on the wall.

Habit-forming. Highly effective or not, you resort to this creative gift when you handle problems.

Asked God, at least once, to take the frustrating passion away. And you were shocked when He did. For a season.

Noticed other people noticing your penchant for it. Your father demanded you become a math major to cure you of it. So you’d amount to something.

Keep on keeping on. It’s the one thing you persevere in. The one thing you quit your job for. Or almost quit your job for.

Sealed with it. If you listen to the small whispers, you’ll know God bestowed you with it to use for His service.

Gush to others about it. You talk about it with anyone who listens—or doesn’t. That’s why you go to conferences and bask in the wonderfulness that others want to talk about it too.

Interrupts everything. Your sleep, your dinner, your housework. Blast it all. You’d love to live in a clean house.

Voracious appetite for it. You feed on it. That’s why you often miss dinner.

Itch to get back to it. When the ideas are humming. Otherwise check your backyard for poison ivy.

No number of rejections can stop you. The toothpaste-spattered note on your bathroom mirror says, “Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times, for Pete’s sake.”

Gifted in in your creative work makes sense when you look back over your life. It stuck with you in bad and good times. So, you might as well go forward and seek excellence in it.

Image courtesy of njaj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of njaj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Teaching, art, encouragement, writing, administration, speaking, giving, dancing, helping, drama… We use creativity in them all.

What gift are you grateful for this Thanksgiving Day?

3 Ways to Make Tired Clichés Liven Up Your Creative Work

“Let’s have some new clichés.” —Samuel Goldwyn

A cliché is like a worn out shoe.
By Sgarton

People roll their eyes at others who talk in constant clichés. Writers and speakers are told to edit out clichés from their work. So, are these overused phrases, which often hit the nail on the head, not worth the paper they’re written on?

I think they’re often gems waiting for you to make them fresh or different. Here’s 3 ways to make clichés work for you. Even if you gag on my examples, you’ll get the idea.

1. Change a Word

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ambulance chaser. “You’ll find Victoria frequenting only high-class, posh, and trendy places. I tell you, the woman is an ambiance chaser.”

Blood is thicker than water. No matter how hard Eddie tried to buy Carl’s friendship with Steeler tickets and the keys to his Mustang, no way would Carl rat on his dad for Eddie. Blood was thicker than barter.

 ♣

2. Rearrange the Words

Tickled her fancy: For some time, his gifts had failed to delight Olivia. And she’d quit laughing at his jokes. Why did he stay? He’d lost his fancy to tickle her.

Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bone to pick with you: Mom’s appraisng gaze suggested she had more bones that needed picking. (From my novel Calculated Risk.)

3. Expand the Phrase or Change the Meaning

Author: Qasinka
Author: Qasinka

Ace in the Hole: Dominic had been his ace in the hole, but Dominic’s hole was six feet deep. What was he going to do now?

Babe in the woods: The bleached blonde pursed her red lips and crooked her finger. Keeping her cat-eyed gaze on Dale, she swished toward the trees. Dale backed away. The vamp was the last babe he’d be caught in the woods with.

Better safe than sorry: A cop cuffed Elise and ushered her toward the cruiser. Max wiped her spittle from his face. Obviously, Elise didn’t care that jail was the only place she could hide from Frank. She might be safe, but she was still one sorry dame.

The next time you catch yourself using a cliché, don’t discard it immediately. See if you can wrangle it into an interesting twist. But use the rewrites of clichés sparingly.

Will you play? What rewrite can you come up with for: fifteen minutes of fame or let the cat out of the bag or another cliché of your choice?

How to Recognize Problems in Your Creative Work Before Seeking Critiques.

“If you don’t understand a problem, then explain it to an audience and listen to yourself.” —Tom Hirshfield

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Your creative work isn’t where you want it to be. You’ve done your checklists, and it’s still lacking. You want to improve your baby so your teacher, critique partner, or coach doesn’t end up doing your work.

So, before you ask for someone else’s feedback, try this simple method and add zest to your creative work every time.

Recognize You in Your Audience

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Aren’t you a reader, a viewer of art, a listener in an audience? You qualify as the one who knows what’s missing in your creation. And who cares more about your work than you do?

Step Away and Come Back as Someone Else

In order to switch roles, let your work sit so time lessens your memory and emotions as its creator. Then when you come back to the work, come back as a person in your audience.

Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of nuchylee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re a novelist like I am, return as a reader. You’re no longer the writer. You’re a reader who paid $12.95 for this book. Surely, you wouldn’t sit in the writer’s chair. Instead, sit where you usually read books. And most likely, you read from an e-reader or the printed page, not from writing software. So ahead of time, you might want to transfer the problem section to your e-reader or print it.

Do whatever you need to do to become a member of your audience. 

Give a Piece of Your Mind

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re a reader, re-read the novel, chapter, scene, paragraph, or sentence and ask: When do I first sense something is bitter or bland?

Here are some possibilities:

  • I yawned. If I were the writer, I’d create some action right here that brought out my emotions. Something to keep me awake.
                • I’m disgusted. I dislike the heroine. If I were the writer, I’d either show her nice side or   get another heroine.

Finish reading the selection and tell that author what you’d do to fix each problem area. Then take her for tea and chocolate scones.

If you’re an artist, it might go like this:

  • My eyes keep going to the clump of dirt on the path. If I were the artist, I wouldn’t let that clump distract from the couple kissing in the garden. I’d tone the clump down.
  • It’s the woman. Her cheek is one-dimensional. If I were the artist, I’d add shading to transform her from a paper doll into vibrant woman.
Image courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I think we forget to put ourselves in our audience. Readers, viewers, and listeners always see what they don’t like and usually have an opinion of how to fix it. We can too.

How have you corrected problem areas in your work before getting others’ feedback?