There are many ways to enhance your creativity. This episodes explains seven tips for how to become more creative. It requires you to be deliberate, but the results can be spectacular.
What You’ll Learn
- Seven ways to boost your creativity
- Tools and resources you can use to become more creative
- Book The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron
- Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way website
- 750words.com – a tool for writing Morning Pages online
- Strict Workflow
The Weekly Challenge
Try at least one of these creative boosters this week. What happens? Share in the comment section or send me an email and let me know how it goes.
Upcoming Workshops with Amy Climer
From Conflict to Resolution: Managing and Mediating Conflict at Work – November 6, 2015, Milwaukee, WI
Feel like reading instead of listening? Download the free PDF Transcript or read it below. Enjoy!
Transcript for Episode #022: Creative Boosters
Amy Climer: Hi Everyone! Welcome to the Deliberate Creative Podcast Episode #22. My name is Amy Climer and today we are talking about creativity boosters. Basically, how to bust through those creative blocks that I walked through last week on Episode 21. These are various ways of how you can help yourself become more creative. You’ll find that it requires some deliberateness. No surprise this is The Deliberate Creative. It does require a little bit of work. If you want to be creative you have to put the time into it. I want to share with you a quote from Pablo Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one once (s)he grows up.” That’s what creative boosters are all about. It’s how you hold on to that inner artist, that inner creative that all of us have. I don’t know if I have ever seen a child that wasn’t creative, wasn’t an artist. If you have been listening to previous episodes you know that when I mean creative, I’m not just talking about just art and artistic-ness, but creative in a very broad sense. What I think Picasso was saying is that we have the capacity to be creative, it’s just a matter of figuring that out and not letting go. Or if you have let it go, how to reclaim it and refine it.
So I’m going to share with you seven things that you can do to boost your creativity. The first two are from a book very inspirational to me called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I stumbled across this book in 1998 while I was in Colorado. The following year, I ended up taking a class about the book. The book is divided up into 12 segments, which are actually 12 weeks. So I chose this class where we followed the book and it seriously changed my life. The book is about reclaiming your creativity that so many of us lost. There are many tools in it and later on I started actually teaching creativity classes based on The Artist’s Way. The messages from the book were very powerful to me. Sometimes as I was going through the process, I felt like Julia Cameron was inside my head and was writing this book for me even though it was six years old and I never met her, but anyway these first two tools are from The Artist’s Way.
#1. The Morning Pages [3:04]
The first tool is called the Morning Pages. This is where you wake up in the morning, first thing, and you write about three pages of stream of consciousness writing. It maybe takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Do this everyday and you can write about anything. The purpose is just brain drain to “empty the cup” essentially. It is not to write a novel, you’re not even writing it to reread it. In fact, Julia Cameron recommends you don’t reread it. I did these for several years and I filled up a dozen notebooks. I actually really preferred buying cheap notebooks because I found that then I wasn’t so worried about it being perfect and right. I would just get these $1 notebooks and filled them up. Then at some point I threw them all away because it’s not about rereading them, it’s about the process.
When I was writing the Morning Pages two things happened. One is that it really helped me to ignore that inner critic. It helped me to recognize when the inner critic was creeping in. We talked about it in the last episode. The other thing is that it helped me process through creative struggles that I was having. It didn’t always happen during the writing, but sometimes I would dump everything from my head on the Morning Pages, then hours later a creative idea would come to me. It got to be so common that I could actually rely on this process when I was struggling and trying to come up with a creative idea or I was on a project that I was stucked on. Given a different approach to it I could tell myself, “Ok, this is the issue, this is the challenge and I will have an idea for this in a little while. In a week or whenever.” I would then just let it go. Sure enough I would get a solution to a problem within a couple of days. I completely attribute that to writing the Morning Pages. I think it just helped my brain empty and it allowed it to open up more. So the first creative booster is writing the Morning Pages. It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it. Julie Cameron says you should do this long-hand in a notebook and I did that for a long time. However, now I opt to do it on a computer in a website called 750words.com. This couple created this website based on Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages and I find it to be very helpful as well.
#2. Go on an Artist’s date [5:58]
The second thing you can do to boost your creativity is go on an Artist’s Date. This is also an idea from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. Here’s what an Artist’s Date is: It is where you are taking your artist self out on a date and it’s only yourself. You are not doing this with your partner or spouse, or best friend, or your mom. It’s just you alone. You do it once a week like one or two hours and you do something that you want to do. The idea is that you are nourishing your creativity. You are really filling up that cup. This could be where you go to an art museum and just walk around by yourself. Maybe you take out your camera and wander around a section of the town for an hour taking photos. Or maybe you go to a craft store and you tell yourself you can buy anything you want for under $5. You take that $5 and have a good time spending it. Whatever it is, just coming up with different ways of spending time to nourish your creativity. So that’s the Artist’s Date.
#3. Supportive Friends [6:58]
The third creative booster is supportive friends. These are people who are truly supportive of you becoming more creative and innovative. You have to be really careful of those wet blankets that I talked about in the last episode. Think through, “who do I want to share my art with and who do I want to share my creative endeavours with?” Pay attention to how people respond and then reach out to those people who are really supportive. Now if you are feeling like “I don’t know if I have anyone supportive,” there are a number of resources available online. Actually Julia Cameron has an Artist’s Way group available, but I haven’t been a part of them. I know at one point it was on her website. Looking at some of the comments, I was so impressed at how people supportive people were of each other. You know the rude negative comments you might get if you post something on YouTube. People can be so rude. It wasn’t like that at all. It was really supportive. There are a lot of groups out there. In The Artist’s Way book there is an appendix and she talks about how to start your own Artist’s Way group. This can be a great source of support. I’ve done this before. I think I’ve done that once a week and also where we met once a month depending on what was going on. It was pretty amazing. Each week we’d come in and share “Ok, I’ve did my morning pages, six days or five days,” we’ll share how often we did them, then talk about the Artist’s Date we went on then we’d just get support from each other like “Ok, here’s the creative project I’m working on.” Really, it can be quite amazing to see if you could find some people who are like that and you can come up with your own style of what that group might look like. But figure it out, how can you find some people who are going to support you to become more creative in your life?
#4. The Five Minute Rule [8:52]
Number four is what I call the Five Minute Rule. This is where you give yourself five minutes to do something creative, whatever it is. If you have a creative project that you’re working on and you need to compose some ideas for it, set a timer and for five minutes work on coming up with a new ideas. If you are working on a paper that you are writing, for five minutes you are going to work on that paper. If you are writing poetry for five minutes, just write poetry that’s it. What I found when I follow this, is that one of two things happened. The first is that I make five minutes of progress on whatever I was working on. If that’s an essay or an article that I was writing, it may be just a line or two, but it was a line or two more than I didn’t have or maybe I did a few edits or something. If I’m trying to coming up with ideas, I have five minutes more of ideas. I mean certainly in five minutes I could come up with five ideas. One of those might be the best idea you ever have. So the first thing that happens is that I just get five minutes of more work done. The second thing I find happens is in that five minutes I get so engrossed that I just keep going. I think that I might have gotten a little bit used to this five minute rule actually as a kid because we had a certain bedtime. I can’t exactly remember what it was, usually after a couple of TV shows, let’s say 9:00pm. We were only allowed to watch TV if we were completely ready and in bed at 9:00pm. So basically what we’d do is sit down and watch TV and at every single commercial we would run to the back of the house to brush our teeth or put on our pajamas. We do these little things in the commercial. I kind of think the five minute rule is the commercial break. For five minutes you are just going to do something. One of the things that sometimes happened is that you get so engrossed in what you are doing you realize “I actually don’t care about that TV show. I’d rather spend time getting on my project.” You end up spending fifteen minutes, half an hour, you might spend quite a bit of time on that project. That’s the five minute rule. Play with it see if it works for you. You never know.
#5. Start Small [11:17]
I have found that when I have creative projects in my head that sometimes they are so big and the ideas are grandiose that it is overwhelming and it limits me. It makes me less creative. It gets me nervous. I feel like I don’t know where to start. So I start really small. Many years ago I was a professional artist. I was actually a fiber artist. If you want to see my work you can go to amyclimer.com. I will warn you the website is pretty bad because it’s completely old and outdated. But anyway, you can see some of my work over there. Mostly what I made were quilts, although they’d look nothing like you think of when you hear the word “quilt.” Sometimes if I had an idea I would start and make a smaller version and play with it so that I get used to the concepts before I would commit to a bigger version. So I actually made a bunch of 4” by 6” quilts that I called postcard quilts and I would put a stamp on them and mail them. So start small. Actually what happened is those became something pretty popular and I sold a lot of them. I probably sold a hundred postcards quilts over the years. But anyway, starting small can help you work out some of those kinks and sometimes new ideas come from the process of starting small.
#6. Be Intentional About Collecting Ideas and Inspiration. [12:44]
So this could be something physical like a notebook, or a binder, or a folder, or maybe you rip up a paper from a magazine and put it in there. It could be Pinterest pages, have a Pinterest folder where you are collecting ideas. Although, do be careful with the Pinterest thing because you can completely get sucked in and that could become one of your creative blocks. Another way to do that is to use a tool like Evernote where you have a folder in Evernote where you are recording your ideas. Whatever method you come up with, figure out a way to collect ideas to capture the thoughts that you have that will help you with your creative projects.
#7. Tape Your Butt to the Seat [13:37]
Seriously, sometimes when I need to work on my dissertation and it can be painful to sit down and write. I just think of duct taping myself to my chair. Now, of course I don’t actually physically do that, but it’s that concept of just sit down and go. It might be slow, it might be that for the first 20 minutes I’m completely unproductive and I’m just like “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” But I’m there. I’m committed to spending time with this project. I’m committed to not getting side tracked.
So those are seven things you can do to help you more be creative – seven creative boosters. Actually I have thought of one more tool to share with you and this is related to number seven keeping your butt to the seat. That is the tool called Strict Workflow. So if you have a Chrome browser you can download this little app and I’m sure there is something for other browsers as well. It’s called Strict Workflow. It is this little tomato at the top of your browser and what it does is it blocks you from going to a certain websites for a set amount of time. The default is 25 minutes. You’re not allowed to go to Facebook, Twitter, and email. You can set up whatever websites you want in there. Whatever your distractions are you put them into Strict Workflow, set the timer and you can decide how long you want it for. I have it set up at 25 or 30 minutes, so I clicked on the timer after that timer is passed, “Ok, I’ve got a five minute break.” For five minutes, if I need to, I can go check email or go to a website and then the timer starts up again. I find it incredibly helpful. There have been times where I’ve set it and said, “Ok I’m going to work for 25 minutes.” Then 5 or 7 minutes in I completely forget that I set it. I tried to go check FB and then there’s this little tomato pops up and said “I’m sorry the page is blocked.” I looked at the timer and I think to myself, “it’s only seven minutes. I couldn’t write for seven minutes before wanting to go check Facebook? That’s ridiculous!“ Anyway, Strict Workflow is a great tool to help you stay more focused and do the creative work that you wanted to do.
The Weekly Challenge
Alright, your challenge for the week is to implement one of these creative boosters. So let me do a quick review.
- Write Morning Pages
- Take yourself on an Artist’s Date
- Find Supportive Friends
- The Five Minute Rule
- Start Small
- Collect Ideas
- Tape Your Butt to the Seat.
Pick one of those this week and focus on making that happen. Whether it’s the five minute rule or whether it’s writing the Morning Pages, at least do it once. If you can do it more than once that’s even better. Maybe it’s something like number one write the Morning Pages, how many days can you get in a seven day week. Can you do all seven? Can you at least get half? Push yourself. Again if you wanted to be creative you have got to be deliberate. Put the work in. You got to tape your butt to the seat.
I hope this was helpful. If you haven’t already, head over to iTunes and give me an honest review. Let me know what you think of the Deliberate Creative Podcasts. I love your feedback. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I share articles on there about creativity and leadership and team development. There is still time to sign up for the class that I’m teaching in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 6. The date was changed. Used to be Oct 28 and now it’s Nov 6. It’s about conflict resolution. If you are curious about that and wanting to know how to work with teams, colleagues or even family and resolve conflicts, then come join me in Milwaukee. It’s going to be a great day. Have a wonderful week. I’ll see you next time. Bye.
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