Tag Archives: Creative process

Releasing Your Creative Work

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
The Creative Process

“Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.”
-Truman Capote

Intense words from an intense writer.

A good writer builds an intimate relationship with his work. Characters run through his thoughts all day long, while plot twists and dialogue haunt him in his sleep. His work is like a child he breathes life into and then forms and nurtures. This child depends solely and completely on him. And when the moment comes to write ‘The End’, the author terminates the relationship and ends the development of the child, cutting it off from its life-supply, the author.

Or so expressed Mr. Capote.

We can look differently at the end of the final phase of the creative process, when one proclaims a work finished. This phase can be seen to mark the handing off of the child to others to be raised in their imaginations, inspiring them to see the world in a new light, or to spark their own creative work.

Sharing your child- any work you have breathed life into- with the world actually releases it to grow into adulthood. Don’t stunt your child’s growth, share it with others- it’s the only way to give it life beyond yourself.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer      

Old Glory

I worked on that car all summer, tried to restore her to her old glory when she was the hottest thing on the block. Grandpa told me she was the first of her kind in town and was the envy of the neighbourhood. He and Grandma were the Joneses everyone tried to keep up with.

I poured my heart into that car- spent nearly every spare dime I had on parts, tools, finish. I did the best I could, but the money ran out and life’s demands got in the way.

And now she sits there, in the garage. ‘A wreck that won’t run’ some would call her. But not me. I know I’ll keep tinkering away at that beauty until someday she’s the hottest thing on the block again, and my son will be proud to take her out on the town.

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Practical Creativity

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
The Creative Process

What do you get when you allow employees paid time to work on projects they themselves come up with? Sometimes nothing of permanence, but sometimes you get products like 3M’s Post-It Notes, or new services like Gmail and AdSense. That’s right, these were all invented by employees who said “I wonder what would happen if we tried this…” and then let their imaginations run wild. 

Companies that support this sort of ‘pet project’ work demonstrate a strong understanding of the creative process. They know that employees need unstructured spaces in which to explore their own areas of interest within the context of their work.

A world of possibility opens when companies let go and make room for the creative process.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer

Bookworm

Buried under a pile of books in his office, he takes no notice of the students shuffling by. They talk of their plans for the weekend, upcoming exams, and latest celebrity gossip.

He is engrossed in the world of psychoanalytic theory, dream interpretation, and the influence of the subconscious. Hours pass as he moves from page to page, book to book, jotting down notes in small scribbles.

He takes no notice when the lights in the hallway turn off and doors slam shut for the night. He is lost in the thoughts his reading evokes, absorbing each nuance and phrase.

As the unread pile gets smaller and smaller, his eyes grow heavier and heavier. He rests his head on the desk, slowly succumbing to the world of his books, allowing his subconscious to take over.  

Image source

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Seeing with New Eyes

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
The Creative Process

Creativity requires new eyes with which to see the world around you. It can be as simple as looking at the everyday with an eye toward finding a story, or as important as finding an imaginative perspective in order to survive.

Everyday event and surroundings can become inspiration for creative writing projects, sketches, or business ideas. That annoying person in your life can become a character in a short story, a pile of garbage can become an idea for a better garbage disposal system, or the theme for a painting that makes a statement on our throw-away society. It’s simply a matter of allowing yourself to look with wonder and openness. 

This same attitude that can make life richer can be critical to overcoming unspeakable horrors.

In the 1997 Italian film Life is Beautiful (La Vita e Bella), a father uses his imagination and whimsical nature to convince his son that their imprisonment in a World War II concentration camp is actually a game in which the duo must hide from camp guards and go through various challenges in order to win a great prize- a tank. Guido, the father, gives his son these playful eyes through which to see so that he can survive both physically and psychologically. The son lives through the ordeal, as does his innocence. Of course, this is just a movie, but the point it makes is powerful. 

Challenge yourself to look at the ordinary through an extraordinary perspective. Translate your observations into a creative project.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer                           

The Garbage Pi
le

I hated that old couch. Never could stand mustard yellow. Wasn’t my choice to get it, I was just the kid, and you never ask for the kid’s opinion when buying home decor.

I was the one who had to suffer with it more than anyone. Hours in front of the tv, sitting, laying, jumping on it. I hated the fact that the springs dug in and the middle sagged and one of the legs was broken so the whole thing was crooked. I hated the food stains that wouldn’t come off, the tattered edges.

I watched the garbage man take that couch away after 12 years of living with it. I watched as the frame split apart and stuffing flew into the compactor’s jaws. I had the sudden urge to rescue it and bring it back to its spot in the rumpus room. It was too late, though, and my new-found appreciation was wasted. 

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The Risk of Art

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
The Creative Process

Creativity requires courage. You may believe strongly in an unpopular position, or have a fighting attitude toward something you see in society and want to give voice to these feelings through your creative platform. But you anticipate the negative social consequences, so you bury your sentiments and carry on with day-to-day living.

Expressing felt truth is risky business. Just ask the Dixie Chicks whose entire career was unalterably changed by a one-sentence comment in 2003: “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” Their music was subsequently boycotted and the media went into a frenzy.

After much of the dust had settled three years later, The Dixie Chicks released the single “I’m Not Ready to Make Nice” in which they expressed their anger at the backlash their comment received. They took a risk in declaring that they were still mad as hell and not ready to back down or make nice. Though they had experienced extreme hardship for expressing their sentiments once, they dared to express them again through their music. This time it led to success.

Whether you agree with what the Dixie Chicks said or not, you have to admire their courage to not back down- or make nice.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer

The Coffee House

I grab the door handle and march into the coffee-house. Marc and Kimmy are already there at the usual corner table. I give a slight nod as Kimmy looks in my direction.

We exchange hellos. I pull up a chair.

“What’d I miss?” I ask, working my arms out of my coat. 

“Just talking about the structure of today’s corporations and the need to shift to individualism and leadership from within to break the traditional hierarchical structures of the elite that don’t allow the expression of criticsm from the ranks.”

“Ah, the continuation of our discussion board convo.” I shake my  hair loose from under my low-profile felt hat and place it on the table.

“That’s the one. Hey Jill, what did you mean when you said online that the nature of the conversation needs to change?”

“Oh that,” I smirk, “ya, I’m starting to think we’re all just getting a little too pretentious and need to loosen up a little.”

Next thing I know I’ve got hot coffee from one end and iced mocha from the other splashing on my face as Marc and Kimmy storm off.

 “What? What’d I say wrong?”

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Fun and Spontaneity

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
The Creative Process

The creative process can be difficult, requiring intense emotional energy. It can also be fun and freeing- the flip side to yesterday’s post.

I told a friend at work, Janine, that the fun and freeing aspect of creativity was going to be the topic of today’s Notes on Creativity. “Great,” she responded, “let’s give you something to write about. We’ll do a scavenger hunt at lunch.” And with that, she walked off.

My internal knee-jerk reaction was , “No, let’s not- we’re adults, we’re professionals, and that’s just plain silly”. Then I remembered a previous post in which I stated that ‘yes goes further than no’ . I decided to practice what I preach. My answer promptly turned into”Yes, let’s”.

And so, we each made a list of things for the other to find or do at lunchtime. Janine had me looking for oddities to photograph (an office chair with coffee mug in a bus shelter- you never know what you may find…), searching for out-of-province license plates, and reading the fine print on Stop signs. I had her asking a stranger for the time and getting him to write it down (she found a good sport), buying me chocolate (may as well take advantage of the opportunity), and stopping to admire a flower.

It was a lot of fun seeing what we came up with for each other, and enjoying the spontaneity together.

Having practiced what I preached, I can attest that ‘yes’ does indeed go further than ‘no’.

Do one thing today that brings a little creative fun into your life.  

 

Janine the Scavenger Hunter

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer

The Jar

I lick my lips in anticipation. The lid is on tight, but I’m determined. My hand stings as I increase the pressure of the turn. No movement. I reposition and try again. Nothing but an increasingly sore hand.

Time to get out the tools. Butter knife under the lip of the lid. This just mangles the top, but gets me no closer to what’s inside. Can opener. Can’t quite get the right angle. Teeth- now I’m getting desperate.

Saliva builds as my taste buds grow impatient. I can’t stand it any longer. I call for reinforcements: “Honey!”

He comes casually up the stairs. I hold out the jar, forehead tensed, lower lip turned out. He gently twists a little to the left, and off pops the lid. The sweet smell of Nutella is free to roam.

I hold out my hand to take back the jar.

“To the victor go the spoils,” he proclaims, and vanishes back down the stairs.

Next time I’ll hand him a jar of pickled pigs feet.

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Wrestling with Words

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
The Creative Process

The creative process is fun and freeing, but can also be difficult, requiring intense emotional energy. It can be tempting to give up on wrestling words into submission to surf the net instead. Believe me, I know.

To pursue creativity requires passion and tenacity- few things of worth in this world can be attained without these qualities. Are you that committed to your creative work that you will sweat through hours of finding just the right angle, just the right look to bring it to life? Your work is anything that expresses that part of you that needs to be shown to the world using the platform you have chosen.

The committment to show up and wrestle through the beautiful process of putting an important part of who you are into the world isn’t easy- but it is worth it.

What is your creative work?

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer

Fishing

He closes his eyes under the shadow of his straw hat, dangles one foot off the edge of the boat, and lets the rod rest gently against his side. He enjoys these moments of stillness, away from the hectic pace of everyday life, soaking in the presence of the world around him.

He and Syd have been out on the lake for a couple of hours now. The conversation has run dry, and each is quietly settling into his own thoughts. Father and son have an understanding, they bond over the absense of words. Both are glad that the fish aren’t disturbing their peace. 

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