Creating Opportunities to be More Creative

As a writer, being a creative person is a pretty big deal. We pride ourselves on how creative we are and yet there are times when we feel we just aren’t creative enough. It’s sort of a Ping-Pong match between the two. Some days it’s one, and a whole lot of other days, it’s the other. There have been quite a few times when I personally felt like I lost the game all together. Many times I found myself asking “Am I creative enough to be a writer?” or “What can I do to be more creative?”. In the end though, maybe it’s more of a question of how can we be the right amount of creative to accomplish our goals?

I want to tell you a story. Something that happened to me over the last few years that changed my life forever (causing me to abandon my blog for awhile too — sorry!) and made me see things in a little different light, especially concerning the way creativity works.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Journey of a Creative Life

It amazes me. Life. The journey we take. It takes surprising turns and we end up in locations we never thought possible. We have these big ideas of where we want to go. Sometimes we get there and we don’t even know it, because we get so wrapped up in all the craziness that is our life. Sometimes we don’t get there, but we arrived in a place that’s just as good or even better. And we think, “Wow, how did I get here?”

Living a creative life isn’t easy in this world of constant distractions and doubt. We wonder if what we are doing is right. We wonder if we should do this or do that. We fear what others might think if they find out exactly what we want or exactly how we think. We fear judgement and scorn. We fear failure. We fear success. We fear doing the wrong thing.

But even with all this tumbling in the back of our minds, we still feel the need to live our life the way we want to. That pull. That desire to just be us. It’s not just enough to live. We want to live a creative life. We want to be expressive. We want to experiment. We want to try new things. We want to do more than what we are doing. We want to be more than what we are, or maybe just a better version.

We also worry about how much we are getting done. Is our life where it should be? Shouldn’t we be doing more? Shouldn’t we be farther along than we are?

Continue reading

The Truth About Creativity

Creativity is a fickle playmate that likes to play hide and seek with the best of us. I, like many artists, have discovered this first hand. In fact, many writers blame creativity, or the lack of it, for periods of forced writing and/or not writing at all, claiming the muse has just up and walked off without another thought. I’ve claimed this many times myself. So it leaves the struggling artist with the age old question… can creativity be harnessed?And in an extension to that, can creativity lead to truly original ideas?

 The truth is that we live in a world that’s not conducive to becoming or maintaining creative individuals, or should I say it’s our learned habits that quell the creative genius inside us all. There are too many distractions like the television watched around the clock, the rush-around-like-a-chicken-with-its-head-cutt-off lifestyle, and other lifestyle choices that require no real thought whatsoever. It’s the things like reading, taking long walks, and slowing down to notice the world around that help spark the creative juices.

Okay, so maybe the juices are flowing just fine and the muse hasn’t abandoned the artist completely to a dark abyss of emptiness. Can an original idea really be found? Can creativity spark that one true idea that sets the world on it end, or perhaps on fire? Well, no, not really, because there really isn’t a real unique idea. There are, however, ideas that can be recycled, or built upon to make them better, or at least different enough to be construed as original.

It’s tough living in a world where people think it’s all been done before. There are so many ideas floating around it makes a person wonder if something new can be found. I think newness can be found, or a freshness brought to an old idea that gives the original idea new life. Take the fairy-tales of old. It seems the tales of the Brothers Grimm are getting new mileage with television shows like Once Upon a Time and Grimm, or movies like Red Riding Hood and Mirror Mirror. An old idea, but with a new exciting twist, no originality required.

I have found that creativity comes when least expected and it grows the most when it is fed. It’s about being open to new ideas, and letting all ideas pour over you like water. Be still and listen. Stop that rushing about and really listen. What is your muse telling you? What did that line in the book you just read for the third time spark inside you? Did you write it down, or let the hint of idea float away in the wind? When the moment it right- and it will be right if you feed your creativity on a regular basis- be ready to listen. Be ready to act and be ready to be original- well as original as any creative person can be.

Are you listening? What does your muse tell you? How does your muse speak to you? And what are some things you do to help the spark of creativity turn into a burning fire of beautiful ideas? Feel free to share with other aspiring artists in the comment section below.

Want to Be More Creative? Bring Out the Inner Child

Image from Microsoft Office

Let’s face it, creativity is the bread and butter of being a writer. It’s the spark that gets the imagination going and is an essential part of coming up with something interesting to write about. It would stand to reason, then, if a writer has trouble coming up with ideas for writing, what a person really might be having problems with is creativity. This problem can be fixed by bringing out the inner child that resides in all of us.

Be a child? Oh, yes, Be a child. Act like a child. Think like a child. Why? Because children are some of the most creative individuals out there. I know this because I have a four year old and I love watching him play because his creativity is so fresh and unencumbered by the restrictions of adulthood. If I need inspiration to write or come up with new ideas, all I have to do is spend some time with my son, and every time I come away with insights I’d never considered before.

The thing that floors me is that these insights are usually so simple and obvious, but most adults (like myself) are too busy to see the simple anymore, though, it’s not just the simple, but really the incapability of looking at things from a different point of view. Sometimes creativity can be sparked just by breaking the brittle rust from our own minds and allowing us a change of view. It’s about having an open-mindedness to embrace new ideas no matter where or how they come, just as a child is naturally programed to do.

It’s a big scary world out there and it’s full of stuff that needs to be done right away. This often has a person running like crazy, or simply consumed by the day-to-day issues that hampers all adult lives. It’s no wonder with all the bill paying, job responsibilities, laundry folding, and rushing kids back and forth to school and soccer practice that the inner child disappears all together to be replaced with a mask of constant responsibility. This mask can be difficult to take off and sometimes it’s just downright inconvenient to do so. Other times, the responsibility of adulthood has consumed a person to the point of no return and the thought of being “child like” is repulsive.

When I have creativity “issues,” I have to remind myself to stop being so serious and let the mask of responsibility be put away from time to time, allowing for something that is so incredible as letting the inner child take control. It’s a freeing and satisfying thing to let happen, and it can do wonders for a mind of stone. Letting the inner child time to play, will loosen up that stone, which will then, morph into a waterfall of ideas that may even be difficult to contain.

Need some ideas on how to access your inner child?- Swing in that swing on the playground, dance in the rain, build a sandcastle, eat ice cream with gummy bears, and if you don’t have a child, then borrow one. Get down on their level and play for awhile. If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed at what you discover, and might find yourself inspired to do something never before considered. Just make sure to keep a notebook handy to write down the sparks of creativity, as you let the inner child play.

Are Deadlines Hurtful or Helpful to the Writing Process?

I have always been in the belief that goals are important, keeping a person focused on what needs to be done and usually giving a time-frame for when said project needs to be completed. It keeps us from running around in circles and gives us purpose. In a sense deadlines are the same, but on a smaller scale. Deadlines are usually for very specific projects and have a definite timeline. It’s a strict date to work towards and a feeling of doom if said project is not completed by the expected date. Deadlines too can be helpful in motivating a procrastinating body (such as myself) to keep moving forward and having a sense of accomplishment from completed deadlines, but what if this strict process creates a pressure that stifles the creative spark?

What if in the process of moving forward becomes a double-edge sword that leaves a person used up like a dried out husk? The creativity is gone and the mental concentration breaks down under the weight of too much pressure. Would it make sense to continue in such a manner?

 

A person, like myself, who has the tendency to shoot for the moon and hope for the best can put up such grand expectations that not even an astronaut with the right equipment could ever hope landing on the moon. In these expectations, lies a minefield of pitfalls that scars the soul and leaves a person disorientated to the point of self disillusion. In a sense, maybe the key to reentry to the world of progress would be a reversal of deadlines and instead have set aside time of mental healing.
One has to wonder too if the mere fact of the striving for deadline after deadline creates a hole inside a person, leaving it a void of emptiness. Where once resided the spark of creativity now sits a black hole of darkness and air. Is this because the fragile well of imagination has had such high demands that it became dried up in trying to supply?
If this is the case then maybe what a person seeks in such a time would be a break, so a person can fill up their well once again. Unfortunately, people are so focused on the act of completing the deadline(s) that this fact becomes lost or forgotten (which seems to happen to me quite a bit).
Deadlines can be a wonderful thing to progress the creative soul to a finished product, but if deadlines become too much a part of our lives without the effort of stimulating the creative spark into a freedom of self discovery, then certain failure will be found. There may come a time when setting aside the deadline may become necessary and even essential to regaining solid ground, but even when the practice of implementing deadlines is reinstated, remembering that deadlines have a distinct fault may keep the struggling creative soul from falling back into the void.
 ***
Want some ideas of how to find that creative spark again? Check out The Missing Muse Part 2: Rediscovering the Magic. And I also found this wonderful article done by Leo Babauta who has 31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing.

The Missing Muse Part 2: Rediscovering the Magic

Part one of this series talked about the Muse or magic and how it can slip away on us at the most inopportune times, but here are some ways to get that creativity back. Nothing inspires inspiration more than other’s creativity, so that is why the first 4 suggestions are listed first. All the asterisks are the things I do on a regular basis to help stimulate the Muse. As you can see, it usually takes more than one way to keep the Muse strong. It’s about overlapping the inspiration to what works best for you and creating a lifestyle that the Muse feels stimulated to stay in.

*Listen to inspirational music What types of music inspires you to write? Make a playlist and play it. Write to it or simply play it in the background until the Muse decides to speak.

*Find a picture that touches a cord within There are may times when surfing through the internet or looking through books that I find a picture that I have to stop and stare at. It calls to me and something inside blossoms. Find those pictures, remember those pictures and create a scrap book of them (either online or an actual book) to reference for when the they are needed the most.

*Read things that move you: Read everything and anything. Find things you like and things you hate. Know what is out there so that it can be used in future stories or avoided like the plague. Mostly just read and you might be surprised when and where the magic might hit. Read blogs (a blog post from A Place For Writers inspired me to write this blog), inspiring emails, a good book, short stories, magazines, the backs of cereal boxes, anything and everything is game so dive in and be prepared to be inspired.

*Find quotes that inspire It’s amazing how a short cluster of words can be the catalyst to an spectacular moment when light bulbs go off and the Muse kicks into to high gear. It’s happened to me many a time, so get in the habit of looking for quotes that inspire and make a library of them to be gazed upon when the Muse grows distant. Check out this site to search for your quote.

Go for a walk Sometimes it is a simple matter of displacing oneself from the normality and routine of the everyday to get in touch with the Muse. A great way to do this is to go for a walk. It also gets the blood pumping, which is also a good way to get the brain working. So drop what you’re doing and get outside to enjoy the beauty in the world around. Inspiration might just be down the block from your doorway.

*Mediate on a regular basis Another great way to get the Muse to come is to meditate, especially on a regular basis. Meditation is all about clearing the mind of the everyday clutter and junk so that the mind can rest, once rested the mind can then focus better. So sit down and take 10 or 15 minutes a day to sweep out the trash and be amazed at what you find in the cobwebbed corners. Check out this website to help learn how to meditate and here is a video as well.

Try something new: Sometimes finding the spark of creativity is about stepping out of the normal and trying something new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t? A sport, learn to dance, learn a new language, learn to scuba dive, be more out-going, ect… Try it and it may even earn a spot in your next story.

*Take time out to observe the world around you and become inspired by what you see: The knowledge we posses is what makes us great writers and gives us tools to create the prefect character and universe, if we stunt out knowledge then we stunt the Muse within. Get inspired by observing the world around. Sit on a park bench and watch kids play, go to the mall and watch people shop, get outside and observe nature around you, let the world around you bring the Muse back to life.

Watch a movie that has inspired you in the past It’s important to note here that if you want REAL inspiration you should turn the television off because it is usually more of a distraction than a help, but at times there are movies that can inspire writing. For me that would be movies like Gladiator or Adaptation. And the TV series Doctor Who. Every time I watch these emotionally charged movies and show, I always leave with a deep sense of profound wonder as it sparks the beauty within.

*Spend time and talk to other writers This can end up a two way street. The writer(s) may inspire you and in return you might be the one to inspire, either way it’s a wonderful thing to be able to share your successes and failures as a writer. Some times talking to someone who shares your passion of writing can make all the difference in the world.

*Free write: To be a good writer one must first develop the habit of being a writer, which means writing everyday. This can be difficult sometimes, especially when the Muse is playing hide and seek, but I find free writing a great way to expel the the clutter from the mind and allow the Muse to flow. Several ways to free write is using writing prompts or just write for a period of time about anything that might come to mind usually 10 to 15 minutes.

Sometimes the spark of creativity is so buried that it might need some “extra” help.  This is when the big guns should come out. It then becomes a matter of peeling back the thick layers that are keeping you from reaching your muse.

Extra help (the big guns)

Face a fear Fear can be our biggest hurtle in life and it can often hold us back on multiple levels. Facing a fear (fear of failure, fear of success, fear of talking to people, ect.) can help unlock the Muse and let it flow more freely.
Address an issue that’s been a problem: There are others things that can cause interference with the Muse. If a problem becomes so big that it dominates all other thoughts, it can quite literally choke the life right out of the Muse. These problems can include things like: an issue with a friend or family, financial difficulties, something that’s always on your mind that normally wouldn’t be, a medical issue that you’ve been avoiding, ect.
Take a piece of writing from when you first started writing and compare it to your current work This can be a real eye opener. It’s easy as a writer to become discouraged and think that the progress we are making is not going anywhere. You begin to think, “What’s the point.” The next time this happens take out a piece of writing from when you first started, or even a year ago, and compare to what you’re currently working on and see for yourself just how far you’ve come. You might be surprised at what you discover.
It really all boils down to your mind. If you want to be more creative, if you want to rediscover the magic, if you want to get in touch with the Muse, change your mind. Once your mind is in the right place, then you’ll be free to focus on the creativity within. Don’t let the world distract you from being who you want to be.