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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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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Consider Your Creative Stamp: Adds Positive Flair or Destructive Flare?

“Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A+ Rubber Stamp on Notebook Paper

Creative types love to put our unique stamp on whatever we do. But all personality types have an upside to embrace and a downside to control. So how do we know when an injection of our creativity helps or hurts?

Here are examples that will show you when a creative stamp is an enhancer and perhaps when it burns.

MP900177808The Scripture Reader

I love to read to others. I enjoy putting my creative stamp on making the story come alive for my listener(s).

I jumped at the call to become a Scripture reader for our church services. Over the years, I’d listened to Scripture readers. Some had resonating voices but little inflection. Others enunciated the words but never paused between important phrases.

When my turn came to read, I tried to understand the gist of the message. I worked to portray what speakers in the passages felt. I experimented with the right places to pause for emphasis. I looked for times to boom and times to whisper.

After I’d felt good about several readings, I wondered whether I promoted God’s word or me. I started to see how the other readers whose styles differed from mine seemed effective. Could I be obedient and remove my creative stamp from the readings?

Then we Scripture readers received a memo with suggestions on how to read Scripture. It mentioned all the things I considered to make the Scriptures come alive. I rejoiced.

When I worked my creative stamp to draw listeners into the Scriptures, my enjoyment in adding flair thrived.

Happy BirthdayThe Jamaican Server

During our family vacation, eleven of us often sat at the same round table in the buffet restaurant. All the servers were gracious, especially to my young grandchildren. The Jamaican resort is all-inclusive, so no possibility of tips incented their good natures.

One young server wore a huge smile as he poured water and brought us flatware. Our grandson told him he would turn three the following day.

Before we left, the young server asked if we’d lunch at the same table the next day. We assured him we would.

At noon the following day, we gathered at the outdoor grill for jerk chicken. As we ate, someone remembered our promise to the young server. We exchanged guilty looks until someone suggested we have our dessert in the buffet restaurant.

When we arrived, the young server’s smile beamed. He’d decorated the table for my grandson’s birthday with red hibiscuses. He’d fashioned palm fronds into an H and a B for Happy Birthday. His creative flair delighted my grandson (and the rest of us).

Except for the enjoyment of having a servant’s heart, the young server added his creative stamp, his flair, for the purpose of making us happy.

The Actress in the Red Gown

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This last example has kept me wondering over the years whether the creative stamp added extra flair or destructive flare.

In ninth grade, I starred in the school play. During the last performance in the big scene with a kiss, I wore a figure-fitting red gown. Another student played a smaller role, the droll maid. For some reason, she decided, unscripted, to enter the scene and dust the furniture. I was distracted and furious. But titters rose from the audience.

Then she carried the flower vase over and pretended to trip and the water drenched my face and hair. I had the final scene to go and my hair would be limp. But the audience howled.

Those who attended and were unaware the maid’s antics were unscripted thought they were the funniest parts of the play. Was I upset because she acted off script or because her ad-libs stole my creative stamp?

Were her ad-libs creative flair or destructive flare or both? Please share.

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