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?

5 Cautions in Adding Humor to Your Creative Works

Alpine Cow“The secret to humor is surprise. — Aristotle

We know humor adds much to engaging an audience. This is true whether our works are art pieces, presentations, dramas, novels, short stories or non-fiction. But we also know humor, unlike other elements in our creative works, has a greater chance of falling flat.

Here are tips that will make your humor less likely to produce deadpan stares or full-blown cringes.

Caution 1. Don’t keep trying to make something funny that’s resisting you. A good reason most likely lies behind the roadblock. The idea could be offensive or hurtful. The idea may need extensive background or setup and risks losing the audience. Or it may not be right for the setting of your work. Some ideas are too outdated to tickle current audiences.

See what you think of this example:

ID-10062080A 1958 film, Mon Oncle, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and other awards. It had audiences rolling, especially the kitchen scene. (I remember.) Here’s its IMDb blurb: “Monsieur Hulot visits the technology-driven world of his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, but he can’t quite fit into the surroundings.” Check out this short clip and decide. Timeless or passé humor?

Caution 2. Don’t overdo the humorous moment in length or drama. But do give the moment what it needs to be recognized as a humorous tidbit. Look for a balance.

Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King have appeared in films of their works for a bit of humor. You decide whether the film professionals gave their appearances the appropriate length and drama for the work. Here are YouTube clips showing Hitchcock’s cameo appearances and one of King’s.

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Caution 3. Don’t create humor that’s complicated and makes audiences work hard for their laugh. Many enjoy slapstick because it’s easy to “get.” Others prefer wit and humorous situations that lead them to their laughs.

You decide if the table ballets in films, Benny and Joon and in Gold Rush, are simple and humorous (and timeless). See both clips here starring Johnny Depp and Charlie Chaplin.

Caution 4. Don’t repeat witty or slapstick elements for the sole purpose that the humor will work a second or third time in the same work.

Image courtesy of Lavoview at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Lavoview at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unless perhaps you’re one of the Three Stooges, repetitions lose the element of surprise and become less entertaining with each re-appearance. Possibly, you can make the idea work again if you’re able to add a fresh angle.

Businessman Stepping on Banana Peel

Caution 5. Don’t include slapstick in writing, drama, or presentations unless it’s well planned and orchestrated.

Slapstick is defined as: “comedy based on deliberately clumsy actions and humorously embarrassing events.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) I think the key element is the humorously embarrassing event. Random clumsy actions alone have no story and can take away from the work. You decide if Mr. Bean, as he paints his room, has an effective embarrassing event for his clumsy actions.

What were your decisions on the film clips? What cautions do you have in using humor?

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]