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 Grab the Prize at Your Next Conference that Will Propel You Forward

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” —Proverbs 27:17

Image courtesy of bigjom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of bigjom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You have a conference coming up. You harbor anxieties. The material will overwhelm you. The contacts you make will fall flat. Like past conferences, this one won’t make much difference in you or your work.

If you use the following tips, you’ll take steps forward in your area of interest. These tips are in addition to the standard conference tips, such as dress code.

Image courtesy of tungphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of tungphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tip 1: In each session, listen carefully to your fellow attendees who add comments. Experts sit among you. Possibly in the very area you need the most help, but is only briefly covered in the presentation.

Sometime after class, introduce yourself to this “expert.” Thank her for her helpful comments. Exchange cards and ask if you may email her with a question or two.

The result may garner a mentor, a valuable new friend, or simply answers to a couple of your questions.

 ∞

Loose DiamondTip 2: Don’t get overwhelmed. Look for one gem said or done in each encounter and write it in your “notebook.” Then by conference end, you’ll have collected manageable jewels of information you didn’t have prior to the conference. You can build on these nuggets of knowledge. You don’t have to remember or learn everything.

Most learning is a process, anyway. Perhaps at this conference, you’re only to become familiar with terminology and processes on a particular subject. This will prepare you to take in more specific information and understanding in future encounters or during research on the subject.

Waiting in LineTip 3: What some of us call divine appointments at conferences are most often with people other than ones you’ve targeted. Yes, it’s good to speak with agents, editors, gallery owners, the presidents of the company of your dreams, and well-known experts in your field.

BUT more often, another attendee in line near you, at your lunch table, or sitting next to you in a session is a more valuable contact. He has an experience you need to hear. She has a friend who’s the perfect person for you to contact. So, note what these people share in your “notebook.”

 ∞

Tip 4: Help others you meet. You have expertizes. Maybe someone needs another person to listen to his idea. He may ask you what you think. You can tactfully give him your honest thoughts. Add him to your “notebook.” Although you help him because it’s the right thing to do, perhaps in the future he will remember you and return the favor. It happens.

 ∞

Business HandshakeTip 5: If interviews are part of the conference, treat an interviewer as a person like you. He’s doing the best job he can to find the right person to move his work forward. You’re seeking to propel your work forward. Work together to see if a match is possible. This attitude can help take the tension out of interviewing.

Write in your “notebook” the things you learned about interviewing from your experience and incorporate them in future interviews.

 ∞

Tip 6: When you return home make time to create a post conference action plan and schedule the tasks. The following are suggestions:

  • Go over your notes in your “notebook” and handouts. Sooner than later.
  • Order materials recommended at the conference you listed as helpful to move you forward. Read them.
  • Visit blogs and websites you jotted down as good resources.
  • Send thank you notes (emails or notecards) to session instructors whose gems you wrote in your “notebook.”
  • Contact the people you said you would.
  • Choose a few of the most important actions you learned that would take your work to the next level. Schedule time to work on these few items.

 ∞

Now, having returned from a writers’ conference, I will make my action plan.

Can you share a conference tip that helped to propel your work forward?

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Brainstorm Distortions of Your Idea and Make Your Creative Work Intriguing

“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.” —Pablo Picasso

Buildings Surrounding Potsdamer Platz

Pop! We get an interesting idea and race to our canvas, word processer, or potter’s wheel. Paint flows, words stream, or clay flies. Our critics say, “Nice.”

Nice? What happened to “Wow!”?

We can turn an interesting idea into an awesome one if we sit a while and release our creative brains from their cages to prowl. We can take an interesting idea and twist it, spin it around, turn it upside down, mash it, expand it, explode it, and add sprinkles to it. We pounce on the most fascinating distortion and work our masterpiece.

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Examples may be the best way to show what I mean. Have fun with the brainstorming process.

Example 1: Years ago the folks at a major cola company took the idea of its bestselling product and turned it upside down. The company drained the sugar, replaced it with artificial sweetener, and came up with its bestselling product: diet cola.

Example 2: Someone had a teen gleaning ministry idea but spun it around. My oldest son attended a Society of St. Andrew’s gleaning weekend. On the last night after gathering potatoes all day, exhausted teens sat at three tables for their evening meal. The staff served the teens a full dinner at one table: chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, buttered rolls, and dessert. At the second table, they served the teens sandwiches and fruit. These teens balked.

MP900177942The teens at the third table stared at the single plops of rice on their plates. These unfortunate teens were outraged. The rice didn’t satisfy their hunger. Some begged at the other tables. Others went to bed hungry.

A few teens from the first and second tables ate faster to protect their meals from the rice-eating teens. Several felt compassion and shared their food with the ones without much to eat.

Teens learned first hand how it felt to have little food when others around them had plenty. The better-fed teens experienced unmerited favor and the reality of the needy. The lesson this creative ministry taught impacted the teens more than preaching about the less fortunate in our societies.

MP900227558Example 3: Courses in the writing craft teach us how to write good scenes. Among other things, writers are to look at the characters’ goals for the scene, then explode their goals. Writers are to ask themselves, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and write their answer into the scene. Characters facing and overcoming conflicts and obstacles make a great story.

MP900405508Example 4: While sitting at the green of the Champions Golf Tournament with my sister, I saw young caddies standing next to each other, one female, one male. They looked cute together. He was tall and slim, and her blond ponytail protruded from the back of her pink ball cap. The what-ifs exploded in my mind. I mentioned the romance idea to my sister.

At home, I brainstormed how I could turn “cute” into a gripping story. This is the story I’m working on. I twisted their normal-looking lives into challenging heartaches below their cute appearances. I hope my sister will be surprised at the finished product.

Can you share examples of how you have warped an idea into something intriguing?

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