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Posts tagged ‘ideas’

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ December 2, 2013

Ray Bradbury Creativity Cats

Commit to a regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning.

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

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If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

How to Think Less and Do More

The Canadian painter Robert Genn writes a terrific, twice-weekly newsletter. While Genn writes primarily about painting, his thoughts apply to any creative pursuit, including writing. The gem below, which looks at ways to stop wasting time in the abyss of decision-making, is reprinted by permission.

Choreographer Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit describes her morning routine of rising early and going through the same morning rituals; same coffee, same bun. She puts on the same leotards, goes down the same elevator to the same street corner, puts her same arm up in the air and gets into the first cab that comes along.

By the time she gets to the studio she has made no significant decisions. Stepping out onto the dance floor, her dancers await. It’s eight in the morning and her first decision is yet to come. It will be a creative one.

We painters also need to save our decision-making for things of importance. “Don’t,” as they say, “sweat the small stuff.” I figure an average 11″ x 14″ uses up several hundred thousand decisions. Compound that over a day of painting and it’s in the millions. Even the small decisions in a painting, some of them so micro and seemingly insignificant, are the building blocks of what we are to become.

Fact is, some lives are so filled with impedimentary drama and ancillary decision-making that there is little time left over for work.

While I sympathize with those who find it difficult to eliminate some workaday decisions, the idea is to step ASAP into the happy hunting ground. Here are a few ideas:

  • Simplify morning rituals.
  • Keep regular habits by day and week.
  • Have your workplace nearby and handy.
  • Work in a space unsullied by impedimenta.
  • Use a day-timer — plan your work; work your plan.
  • Always ask — “Is this action necessary?”
  • Be businesslike — discourage time-wasters and interlopers.
  • Be efficient and mindful of wasted motion in your space.
  • Drive your car mainly for pleasure.
  • As far as possible, get stuff delivered and taken away.
  • Be modern — pay bills, bank, book flights, etc., online.
  • Keep your dress code practical and simple. You don’t need to look good in a studio.
  • Quit your day and move to a relatively decision-free mode: Play well, laugh much, love much, sleep well.
  • Finally, and most important, with every non work-related decision, you need to decide: “Is the decision I’m making truly needed, or is it just another excuse?”

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “We cannot directly choose our circumstances, but we can choose our thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, we shape our circumstances.” (self-help pioneer James Allen)

Esoterica: The cosmetics tycoon and women’s advocate Mary Kay Ash said, “There are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened… You can decide which type of person you want to be.” We artists, in particular, need to be among those who make things happen. Self-starting, self-motivating and self-critical, we focus our energy on thought, planning, observation, quality control and production. Difficult decisions–lots of them–are both the joy and the burden of creative folks. “Those who avoid the tough choices of life,” said author Robert Brault, “live a life they never chose.”

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Don’t miss the treasure trove of Genn’s letters here.

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ July 15, 2013

John Cleese

Commit to a regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning.

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

:::::::

If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

When Do Ideas Happen?

The Canadian painter Robert Genn writes a terrific, twice-weekly newsletter. While Genn writes primarily about painting, his thoughts apply to any creative pursuit, including writing — and we’ve reposted his letters here several times before. The gem below, which looks at the situations that generate ideas, is reprinted by permission.

Recent research, aimed at finding specific triggers that result in good ideas, better solutions and bouts of creativity, has confirmed my own favourite times when stuff happens. Here are a few:

When we step away: Focusing at your workstation doesn’t always work, particularly if you do too much of it. Leave your cubicle or studio and step into a new environment. Great stuff is ready to grab out there, floating in the ether.

When we’re in transition: Waking up, falling asleep, showering, tubbing, or going to the bathroom are hot times for new ideas. We need to trust the possibilities of fleeting brain waves at these times and take the trouble to knock them down for further study.

When we’re drinking: Moderate drinking gives confidence and gusto. A 2012 study at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that students who drank enough to raise their blood-alcohol level to 0.075 performed better on tests of insight than sober students.

When we’re doing chores: This may be one of the reasons why so many artists prefer to have their studios at home. I absolutely don’t want this sort of information passed around, but I personally find stimulation in washing cars, taking out the garbage, and helping our gardener move bags of manure.

When we’re satisfied: A relatively fulfilled life calms the mind and enriches the ground for idea growth. I’ve tried frustration, anger, disappointment, tiredness and misery, and they all work to a degree, but joyous satisfaction and a sense of élan work best.

When we’re daydreaming: It turns out that daydreaming is one of the most valuable things that creative people do. Even the fantasizing of chicks that bedevils a lot of men apparently hastens bubble-up ideas from the subconscious that have nothing to do with women. What women need to fantasize, I’m not sure.

When we see green: Green surroundings, whether green-painted walls or the green outdoors, suggest new growth, rebirth, fertility, and renewal — just one of the reasons why a walk in the park can be so fruitful. Feeling non-creative in the studio? Squeeze out some green.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “When students were given creativity tests, those whose test-cover pages had a green background gave more creative answers than those whose pages were white, blue, red or grey.” (Sue Shellenbarger, reporting in the Wall Street Journal)

Esoterica: Personal and unique fetishes can be useful as well. For a steady flow of creativity, easel-time foot-massage has been recommended, as has military marching music played loudly. I notice slight rises when I consult or share minor triumphs with Dorothy the Airedale. She is non-confrontational, always eager, never critical, and I know she’s quite fond of me. Sometimes she likes my creativity so much she sleeps on it. In other words, she’s a low-maintenance muse. ‘Scuse me, she just came in, and now she wants out.

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Don’t miss the treasure trove of Genn’s letters here.

Robin: Decluttered

I have a stack of journals in which I have collected ideas. There are about 6 of them. There is no rhyme or reason to them. Pretty little journals with random thoughts and dreams and ideas. This collection began to wear on me about the same time that I committed to writing out my business plan for the Creative Business marathon. How will I ever find the time to look through these? What am I missing out on? Do I keep re-inventing the wheel of my creativity without realizing it?

I have this same awful habit when it comes to pictures as well. Files and files of pictures on my computer. Random files simply listed by date. No wonder I feel so scattered all the time. No wonder I can’t seem to think my way clear to a concise plan. I have these stacks of randomness. Until this weekend…I looked through the pages of the journals. And guess what I found?  Most of them are only halfway full. AND most of the ideas I am ALREADY IMPLEMENTING. And the pictures? Well that was not as clean and tidy. In fact, that took hours.  LOTS AND LOTS of hours. But that too is complete.

I feel CLEANSED and ready for my NEXT STEPS

[photo credit]

Bethany: Ideas, they always seem better in my head*

As I lie in bed last night waiting for my daughter to fall into blissful sleep, I came upon a new book idea. I love those. In fact, I might go out on a limb and say I LIVE for those moments. The story idea, the characters, the plot lines all seem so clear. So exciting. Something akin to magical. The entire story makes sense in all the right places and so easy to just sit down and write. Well, when I get up and write them.

That is, until when I actually do sit down to type/write/stutter out the fragments of the idea into something more official. Whether that be in an electronic document, piece of paper or just verbalizing it to my husband. Then… it all gets ruined. The idea suddenly becomes real and I find holes in the plot that seemed so flawless only moments before. The characters, superficial. And well the idea, just not quite where it needs to be. And, yet, I still take the time to continue writing it all down. Every piece of inspiration. Just in case I need an idea to grow into something more.

Though the doubts that start when I start writing? Never go away. In fact, I think more and more of them creep up the more I write the story. I’m convinced it has to do with the fact that I am *actually* writing and progressing and doing what I want to do. The little old thing called FEAR has weird ways of trying to ruin your plans. And right now, I’m just going to blame him for how I feel about that idea. Because the other part of my brain–the better half–still likes it. And thinks with a bit more tweaking (and letting go), the great parts of it just might come out and play. If I let it. And right now, I have nothing else to lose. Except, the excitement that is all in my head.

* So I’ve been absent forever. And so has my writing and creativity. And really, my life (thanks to an over-bearing day job). This was one of my weak attempts at more committed blogging again. And Cathy asked me me to cross post from my blog. So, I am. Thanks for the reminder Cathy. And for always reading even when I barely post.

Bethany: A Choice of Two

I’m constantly coming up with new book ideas.  Not that I am complaining, because one can never have too many ideas.  No. This is more of a preference.  Which book to I work on now?  See, I’ve been working on one book idea for a while now.  In fact wrote 100 pages, then scrapped them all and began another more detailed outline of the same book–but tighter, more suspense, and definitely more world building that makes the story have that much higher stakes.  This story’s been with me for a while.

Now the other book–let’s call it book 2–it is a newer idea.  One that I came up with during a chat with a friend not too long ago.  All that came to me was a title and an image.  But it was enough to fuel my imagination at 3am that night and get me out of bed.  Again, I have a page of notes to start.  Granted, it is nowhere near the outline the other has–but definitely enough of a plot line to get me started and get the book past the 100 page mark.

So the choice is this– book 1 or book 2?

Whenever I am starting a new book it seems that I am in this predicament.  I have idea folders (yes FOLDERS) on my laptop that I go to for inspiration.  Though I rarely need them.  The ideas, when they’re good, don’t go away.  They stick in your brain and and pick away until you write them down.  Completely.  Or to the point where I am with these two.  Now, it is just a matter of choosing one and getting it done.

But that also means I have to give up reading for at least 6 weeks.  Yep. I’m one of those, I give up one pleasure for the other.  So I can focus.  And I think it comes with the I’m A Mom With Little Time Role. If I am going to have free 15 minutes, I have to choose. And right now, my brain won’t let me read.  I. Must. Write.  But–which one?

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