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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8 Tips on How to Respond to Fans of Your Creative Work

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”— Winston Churchill

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

What are you going to do when:

  • emails pop up about your presentation,
  • comments appear at the end of your blog post,
  • notecards arrive in your mailbox about your art show,
  • mothers stop by your class about your creative teaching,
  • people greet you backstage, or
  • colleagues flock around you after the meeting?MP900390572

Remembering the following tips, you can reply to fans, followers, and admirers with a P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E generosity of spirit that will make them glad they took their time to respond to your creative efforts.

Tips for P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E Replies

P-leasant: No matter what our fans say or how they say it, they own their response to us about our work. We own our reply. If they encourage us, returning a pleasant reply is easy.

If they come across as vindictive, will we change how they feel if we reply with equal fire? We don’t have the full picture of what’s going on in their lives. But we might surprise them if we respond with kindness. If you can’t return kindness, then no reply is best.

Trust Proverbs 25:21-22. If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (NIV)

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

O-pen-minded: Often fans aren’t being negative but have a different opinion than ours. We can wrench open the door to our minds and try to understand what they’re saying. We may find we can agree with them to an extent and can affirm that to them. If we still disagree, we can acknowledge they have a viewpoint different from ours.

S-imple: To avoid putting our fans off with a treatise of our opinion or to further educate them, we can keep our response simple. The more we say the more likely we’ll push wrong buttons. Plus, our work excited or touched them enough to respond to us, so we should avoid boring them and lessening their enthusiasm.

I-nterested: Often fans will share an experience similar to ours or add ideas to what we’ve presented. No doubt we’re busy people. But instead of replying with two-second responses, we can give them the respect of two-minutes of our attention. Hopefully they’ll feel encouraged that we’re interested in their thoughts.

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

T-rue: Yes, we must avoid lies, but I’m speaking more of genuineness. If we try to impress our fans by morphing into someone we’re not, we risk sounding phony. Fans are smart.

I-mmediate: To have the greatest impact on our fan’s enthusiasm, it’s important we reply as quickly as we can. We want to affirm our fans while they’re still excited about our work. This is another reason to keep our replies simple.

V-alid: Respond to what fans say. If we ignore a point they’re making and reply with self-promotion or something off point, we diminish them. When they solely express their excitement for our work, sticking to appreciating their enthusiasm is probably best.

E-dited: If our response to fans and followers is written, we can take 10 seconds to reread our simple reply. Most of us enjoy responses to our work that come across better than a text message full of abbreviations and typos and no caps. (Unless it is a text message.) If our response is verbal, we can take a second to think before we speak.

FanIf we stay P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E we’ll keep our fans coming back for more of our creative works. For me, like an electric fan, I wave praises to God the Creator. God always replies with mercy and kindness. I keep returning to Him.

What works well in responding to your fans?

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