Seasons

One of the most important concepts I’ve learned when it comes to creativity is called “seasons”. The Bible says there is a time for everything and that is true when it comes to creative output. I have found that there are times when I can’t hardly stop ideas from flowing and have to rush to make sure I capture them. Many times this is toward the end of a morning run, but there are other times as well.

On the other hand, there are times when I scratch and claw and scrape to pull something out of my creative spring. If I’m writing I call it the “blinking cursor curse”. At times like these I sit back, relax, take a deep breath and go away - sometimes physically, sometimes mentally. I do this because it’s happened enough times that I now understand a very important truth: trust the seasons. Another way to put it is to trust the rhythms.

No one is “on” all the time – it’s just not built into us. But, we can learn to trust the seasons and know that fallow ground will eventually give way to a rich harvest of creativity.

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Creativity Quotes

Here are more of my favorite quotes on creativity:

Art doesn’t have to be pretty. It has to be meaningful.” ~Duane Hanson

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” ~Pablo Picasso

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.  G.B. Shaw

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. You simply must do things.” ~Ray Bradbury

It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.” ~Jean-Luc Godard

“Inspiration comes and goes. Creativity is the result of practice.” ~Phil Cousineau

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” ~Marc Chagall

Dance first, think later” ~Samuel Beckett

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” ~John Maynard Keynes

“Find something only you can say” ~James Dickey

“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

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Planting flowers before Memorial Day...

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An artist

I was meeting with a friend about a year ago and we were talking about life, work and creativity. At one point in the conversation I looked at him and said “I am an artist”. It was almost as if I said it to both him and myself. We had been talking about different future scenarios and I felt like I need to get to the core of who I am. So I simply said, “I am an artist”.

It’s very important to own your creative talents. Too many of us use words like “amateur” or “hobbyist” to describe how we approach creative projects. While we may not make a living from our creativity, it’s important to accept and receive the gifts we’ve been given. The extremes seem to be either and self-serving, cocky attitude or a false humility that says “I’m not really good enough to paint/draw/sing/write/____ this.

So, own your creative gifts. Recognize them and build on them.

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...another bird from Florida... they seem to have alot of them.

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The power of planning

I’ve been involved in a new online venture that has required an incredible amount of planning and execution. It’s a Photoshop tutorial site: www.microtutes.com. There are over 500 video tutorials that are less than 60 seconds each. I put them together last fall and then launched the site on 1/1/15.

Now I’m in the product development phase where I will be offering different packages to the microtutes email list. The packages will include various tutorials, PDF documents and music from my “Quiet Canvas” collection.

All this to say that the best thing I’ve done throughout this endeavor is to plan first and execute after. I start by establishing 1. What I want to include 2. the date I want to launch. Then I break it down and work backwards to the point where I know the agenda for each day between now and then. Of course, I have built in margin time since things always come up that I don’t expect.

So, if you have a large project and a deadline, take time to break it down to very small “wins” that you can track and celebrate along the way. And don’t forget the margin time!

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A few weeks ago we spent some time in Zephyrhills, FL. Just outside of town there is an airport that specializes in sky diving. This guy seemed like he was having a great time floating through the clouds.

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Creative regimentation

I don’t know whether there is any truth to the “creative is unorganized” stereotype. I know that all of have different levels of left and right brain orientation. But, as a creative person, I have found much freedom in segmenting my day and giving myself “permission” to create at certain times. For example, I set aside a small amount of time – usually a half hour – to do things that I am not naturally inclined to do like finances or administration. I also have a designated learning time in the morning where I watch tutorials on and Adobe product or a topic I’m interested in. I try to do this for all the things that don’t require a lot of creativity but need to get done regardless. Once my brain knows I have a time period allotted for the more mundane tasks, I have a much greater freedom to pour myself into the creative times and not have the cloud of “to do’s” hanging over me.

For greater creative freedom in your life, try setting aside time segments for the non-creative things. It will help you be more present and engaged in your creativity and might even help get some other things off your to do list.

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We live by Firestone Park in Columbiana, OH and they have an annual Christmas light display that is beautiful. Some of the lights are set on the banks of Mirror Lake.

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The mockup

I’m designing a website right now and it will have over 500 Photoshop tutorials. This is one of the most ambitious websites I’ve done and there are many directions I can go on the design. After thinking about it for awhile I wanted to jump in, open up Photoshop and get to it. But, I decided to wait on that and get out a blank sheet of paper to record design ideas as they came to me. Looking back on it, I am so glad I took this step. Two pages later I began to put in on the computer screen. And even that was probably too soon.

When you have a pencil in your hand there is a freedom that you don’t get on the computer screen. It’s more fluid, you can draw a line to start a new idea and all of it is in front of you. So as you iterate, each idea builds on earlier ones until you have it refined enough to switch over to the computer.

On your next project try starting it very low tech – with a pencil in your hand.

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At least the sides were built well.

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Gratitude and creativity

Here’s a terrific story about gratitude and creativity from Lesli Laskinreese :

Itzhak Perlman, the story goes, who was crippled from polio, once gave a concert using only 3 strings of his violin. After making the long trek across the stage to his seat, he began to play and almost immediately broke a string on his violin, leaving him with 3 strings to perform his first solo as well as the rest of the symphony. Rather than stopping to repair the string, he signaled the conductor to continue and he played his solo, creatively rearranging the music as he needed to keep the song together. He finished the symphony with his usual passion and artistry and sat quietly for a moment as the audience looked on, somewhat stunned by his spontaneous display of ingenuity and talent. Then as a whole they jumped to their feet, clapping and cheering wildly. Perlman raised his bow to signal for quiet. “You know,” he said, “sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much beautiful music you can still make with what you have left.” He was grateful for the 3 strings he had left and using his creativity and ingenuity performed above and beyond.

What do you have to be grateful for today?

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Create vs edit

When we create there seems to be two modes that constantly compete for our attention: 1. Create 2. Edit. Somehow our brain is able to simultaneously write, paint, compose and otherwise create something while at the same time it can edit, critique and evaluate. But, what would happen if we just created? If we just said no to the critiquing part for an hour? Or two? I think we would be able to produce things that are way beyond what we’ve ever done. Sure, it would be a little sloppier and maybe even bizarre at times. But there would be a time to critique and edit later on. That would be step #2.

I’m not sure why we feel we must edit “on the fly”. Maybe we think it will save time in the end. But what we lose in creativity just isn’t worth it. On your next project set aside two different sections. First, create. If you write, then start writing. And write and write and write. And then write some more. Once you’ve poured everything out on the screen, then take a break and come back later to edit. I think you’ll be surprised at what you created without any edits going on at the same time.

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This one of my favorite places to sit in the mornings.

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