5 Steps to Recharge Your Creativity

“The wise learn from the experience of others, and the creative know how to make a crumb of experience go a long way.” — Eric Hoffer

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do you ever feel your creativity is at an all time low? Everything you do is a rehash of what you did when your creativity burst like fireworks on the Fourth of July? Your bucket comes up dry from your fresh-ideas well?

Try this method and feel your creative juices start to rumble and bubble deep within you.

Step 1 – Observe

Image courtesy of Kookkai_nak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Kookkai_nak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Grab your laptop or a sheet of paper and a pen and sit in three different places for 5 minutes. Make sure:

  • one is a favorite room inside,
  • one is a less favorite setting like a laundry room or bathroom,
  • and one is outside.

During your 5 minutes in each place inspect items around you and list 3 things that delight you.

Example:

In a favorite nook, I enjoy the hand-carved leaves and flowers of a table from India. The details on the fireplace iron insert surprise me in how the designer combined art, simplicity, and function. Studying the ends of the magazine rack shaped like a musician’s lyre, I recall why I bought it at an antique mall.

In the laundry room, I like the convenience of the hand-wash function on the washing machine. The curved sides of the stacked washer and dryer. And the sunny wall color someone named Cloudy Sunset.

Outside, I delight in the bright yellow and black goldfinches on our feeder. The furry bunny licking the dew from the earthy slate on our back porch. Today’s sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains. And the new red Gerbera daisy that opened this morning.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Step 2 – Imagine

Now imagine the creator of each thing you listed, the artisan, designer, or inventor. Picture his excitement about his idea, his enjoyment at each stroke of his hand, and his reluctance to leave his creation at lunchtime. Imagine another’s mental pictures as she considered how you would receive her handiwork. Her hope you’d delight in a particular aspect.

 

Step 3 – Thank

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Take a moment and mentally thank each creator for his gift, his willingness to learn his craft, his work, his perseverance, and his desire to make life a little better for you. I’m thanking the woodcarver, the iron inset designer, the paint colorist, and God for their creations.

Step 4 – Ask

MP900289434From all the items you listed, ask yourself whether something in the observing, imagining, or appreciation experiences might spark a fresh idea for your audience. Using my observed items:

  • A time-saving idea for your blog
  • An historical romance about an iron fireplace inset maker
  • A painting to capture God’s awesome sunrise
  • An interesting shape to add to your pottery
  • A children’s story about a thirsty bunny
  • An article about perseverance in your art
  • Earrings in the shape of lyres

Paintbrush with Blue PaintStep 5 – Act

Even if an idea for your next creation fails to strike you immediately, do something that calls you to create. Think of those close to you who could use a boost.

  • A doll on a shelf inspires making paper dolls for your daughters.
  • A lyre magazine rack sparks writing a love song for your wife.
  • A cake on a magazine cover instigates decorating cupcakes for your kindergarten class to resemble each child’s face in skin, hair, and eye color and adding their initials.

The bigger ideas will come now that you’re back in action.

Please share an idea you had while stepping through this method.

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How to Use Art to Free Your Anxious Heart

We all bear difficult times in our lives when we feel overwhelmed. My guest, Kristin Blankenship, shares her experience and 4 tips we can employ to heal our anxious hearts.

Using Art to Free an Anxious Heart

It is important to do the work that leads to our renewal, clarity and inspiration and then remember to taste it, experience it and let it flow.  Linda Saccoccio

Let Your Light Shine
Let Your Light Shine

No one could have prepared me for the journey my heart would travel upon becoming a mom over 9 years ago.  A journey bursting with love for my long-awaited child, a little boy entering the world in hushed awe with wide-open eyes – windows to an old soul.  And, at the same time, a journey fraught with the uneasiness over the feeling that my beautiful boy did not seem comfortable outside the womb.  With the arrival of a little sister less than two years later, came frequent and lengthy meltdowns, nightly sleep difficulties, and the onset of rigid, repetitive behaviors.  My husband and I operated in survival mode for days on end.

autismbooks

Writer, Elizabeth Stone, once described having children as  “forever having your heart go walking around outside your body.” My boy and I shared the same anxious heart as I began searching for answers from pediatricians, child psychologists, behavior and occupational therapists.  At the age of 2 ½, my sweet boy was diagnosed with high-functioning autism.  And while this journey has been difficult at times, especially in those early years, it has also served as a training ground for strength, perseverance, joy and celebration as we experience God’s love through the hands and hearts of those who travel along beside us.

Being the parent of a special needs child often means chronic sleep deprivation and countless hours researching in the desperate effort to understand and make the best decisions for early intervention.  It is easy to become so focused on these aspects, that we lose our true selves somewhere in the mad dash to special schools and multiple therapies all over (and out of) town.  Even play with a special needs child requires work!  It is no wonder that when we do finagle some quiet-time for ourselves, we sit with grieving hearts, trying to remember who we are beyond the Special Needs Mom title.

Spread Joy
Spread Joy

For me, art has played an integral role in healing my own worn-out, anxious heart.  Integrating art and creativity into our daily lives fosters the opportunity to reconnect with our own inner child, that child of God who runs and laughs and feels joy spontaneously.  When we get out of our own heads and back in touch with our true essence, we are better able to connect with God, the Source for inspiration and energy that we so desperately need.  Yes, our children need our intellect.  They need us to be their advocates. Even more, they need our hearts and the joy that God has placed inside them.  Joy that offers healing for ourselves and our children.

So, how can you infuse art into your daily life?  Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Grab the crayons and draw or write with your non-dominant hand.  Studies indicate that this practice promotes access to the right-side of the brain which houses functions such as feeling, intuition, creativity, and inner wisdom and spirituality.

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  • Engage your body in joyful movement.  Try dancing to upbeat music while doing chores, such as cleaning the bathroom.

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  • Create a sculpture with air-dry clay or play-dough.  The act of sculpting and kneading releases stress and reminds us of how God created and molded us in his very own image.

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  • Cut-out magazine pictures that “speak” to you and make a collage. Figure-out ways to incorporate one or more of these ideas into the weeks ahead.VisionCollage

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Allow the creativity to flow and you just might discover a deep well of abundance. Abundance that offers sustenance for a tired heart.

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Stu&MeKristin Blankenship is the wife to her husband of 19 years and the mother of  two school-age children, ages 7 and 9. Before having children, she spent the majority of her adult career working in the public schools as an elementary school teacher and guidance counselor. More recently, Kristin ran with the desire to “unleash her inner artist,” and began working with creative coach, Amy Barr.  Through this process, she discovered healing and a renewed joy for life. Currently, Kristin resides in Midlothian, Virginia where she writes of her faith and motherhood at her blog, The Blue Mug, and creates mixed-media art, celebrating the simple beauty of life.

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How to Make Your Idea Shine in 3 Steps

“Creativity takes planning in multiple iterations.” —Beth Comstock

 Sky at Sunset

We have an idea for an activity or a writing project. We capture the idea and move to the next idea in our project. Then we wonder why the audience didn’t engage during our presentation. Why editors rejected our article or manuscript. Why children yawned during the learning activity.

We can significantly improve each idea if we follow the Blah to Shine method:

Step 1: Blah – idea is lousy to good.

Step 2: Warm – idea is getting warmer.

Step 3: Shine – idea requires sunglasses.

MP900255308When we paint a room, we make a mess first. We move furniture, and bring in paint, drop cloths, and ladders. Although remodelers expect it in the beginning of a project, few of our visitors enjoy our room. Next, we cover the walls in paint. Then we put away the paint, vacuum the carpet, replace the furniture, and put a vase of flowers on the table. Our room is fresh and inviting. This is the essence of the Blah to Shine method.

Step 1. Expect blah. Even if your first pass idea turns out to be stellar, expect it to rank good at best. That way you aren’t tempted to accept ideas on autopilot.

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Step 2. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What would make my idea better?
  • Is my idea appropriate for my audience?
  • Is my idea vague? What would sharpen it?
  • Does my idea fit with the rest of my project?

Now replace the blah idea with the getting-warmer idea your answers generated. Expect this idea to be better but not the best (even if it is). Make a habit of moving to Step 3.

Step 3. Use easily available resources to spawn a better idea. We have scads of resources we can access in seconds.

  • For a better word: thesaurus and dictionary on the toolbar.
  • For information on almost everything: Google Search.
  • For specifics: the how-to book gathering dust on the home office shelf.
  • For activity ideas: Sunday school teacher’s aid, Bible Study Fellowship’s children’s manual, or other helps issued to leaders or volunteers.
  • Close up of a hamsterFor sounding boards: critique partner, co-leader, or Yahoo interest group.
  • For guinea pigs: spouse, 4-year-old, know-it-all teen, or neighbor.
  • For inspiration: prayer. 

All these resources can spark the improvement that moves your warm idea to one that shines.

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Example: Let’s suppose a writer in 1900 uses the Blah to Shine method.

In Step 1 he writes: The bully shook his fist. “I’m going to beat you up.”

The writer has a workable line. How could he make it better? Is “up” vague? What would better show his audience what the bully plans to do?

BullyIn Step 2 he writes: The bully shook his fist. “I’m going to break every bone in your body.”

This threat is more specific. But in 1900 it may have already been a cliché. Readers want something fresh. How could he make it snappier?

In Step 3 he writes: The bully shook his fist. “You’re dead meat.”

The phrase “dead meat” goes back to 1849 in Emerson Bennett’s Leni-Leoti. However, our 1900 writer remembers a H. L. Williams book he read in 1865 about a man facing such a threat. He blows dust off Joaquin, the Claude Duval of California and finds, “Drop your belts on the ground, or you’re dead meat!” As Williams did, he borrows the phrase, and it works!

I didn’t find “dead meat” on the cliché lists I googled, but today its overuse may throw it into Step 2, a warm idea.

What methods do you use to make your ideas shine?

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