Category Archives: Creativity/Inspiration

100+ Ways To Maximize Your Creativity in 2014

788px-Jigsaw_(When_Art_Imitates_Life)_(8164506694)

jigsaw, (When Art Imitates Life) courtesy of russavia, Creative Commons

What are your plans for 2014?

A new writing project? Getting back to something you let drop last year? Getting healthy, working on relationships?

A new year means a new beginning, a chance to re-invent how you do life. Time to reassess, refocus, recommit. We make resolutions to stop bad habits and start new ones.

It’s also a great time to get new inspiration for your creative self. Doing something different stretches you, keeps ideas fresh, helps you explore new mindsets. I’m a list girl (just ask Keeper Hubby about my piles of lists) so I collected this list of creativity hacks with links to help fire up the sparks. Some may be simple, others harder or more expensive, but if you’re committed to having your best creative year, some of the ideas in this list could help your imagination go where it’s never gone before.

Build your brain, start new pathways of thought, break down fear barriers that have blocked your art, and have fun. My plan is to try something on this list each week, in addition to drilling down on my daily writing time. 2014 is the year to let your creativity loose!

  1. Sleep for eight hours every night.
  2. Take a walk.
  3. Keep a dream journal.
  4. Create at the same time every day.
  5. Create at a different time of day.
  6. Listen to Mozart. Or Samba. Or Nirvana.
  7. Shape something (play-doh, clay, pottery, bread) with your hands.
  8. Sketch your ideas.
  9. Listen to TED talks about creativity.
  10. Spend time in nature.
  11. Attend a poetry reading.
  12. Keep yourself hydrated.
  13. Go people watching.
  14. Observe others’ power of observation: see how many days you can wear the same outfit/clothing item before someone notices. (Note: permission to wash items while testing this theory.)
  15. Learn a new language.
  16. Try Karaoke.
  17. Paint a picture.
  18. Schedule your daydreaming.
  19. Learn to code.
  20. Practice Tai Chi.
  21. Play old school board games.
  22. Write with a fountain pen.
  23. Repurpose an item in your house into something new.
  24. Fold paper.
  25. Dance like nobody’s watching.
  26. Put together a comedy routine for an open-mike night (or family night).
  27. Explore craft ideas on Pinterest.
  28. Write a short story in a genre you’ve never tried before.
  29. Play a brain game: Sudoku, Scrabble, Mahjongg, etc.
  30. Create a prompt box or file with first lines/ideas and pick one a week.
  31. Laugh.
  32. Freewrite.
  33. Walk away from a project for a while.
  34. Color in a coloring book.
  35. Wear a wig for a day.
  36. Write in a different direction on lined paper.
  37. Increase the awareness of each of your senses for ten minutes per day.
  38. Make a Pinterest inspiration board.
  39. Teach your hands something new.
  40. Visit an art museum or gallery.
  41. Spend time with some children you know. Ask them questions to get a different perspective on life.
  42. Exercise.
  43. Do a mind map.
  44. Move your eyes back and forth.
  45. Read fiction.
  46. Purposely make something imperfect. Enjoy the freedom.
  47. Start a creatives group. (Think of Hemingway and his pals in Paris.)
  48. Wake up and write.
  49. Keep a daily journal.
  50. Create a persona and take it for a walk in public.
  51. Turn off your email/computer/smartphone.
  52. Meditate.
  53. Fail.
  54. Have a well-established way to capture ideas. You’re more likely to let ideas float around your head because you aren’t afraid to lose them.
  55. Experience live music.
  56. Be a fashion maverick. Wear something you love even if it’s not in style.
  57. Enter an arts contest. (writing, photography, state fairs)
  58. Spend a day completely by yourself.
  59. Visit a public garden.
  60. Play a video game.
  61. Make a vision board.
  62. Go barefoot in public.
  63. Write a letter to someone you haven’t been in contact with for a while.
  64. Build a birdfeeder.
  65. Create a comic book character.
  66. Write a story about something you’ve never told anyone with pen and paper. When you finish, burn it.
  67. Learn to play an instrument.
  68. Memorize a passage or quote that inspires or is important to you.
  69. Declutter your desk.
  70. Declutter a room.
  71. Change the lighting in a room.
  72. Light some candles.
  73. Make a list.
  74. Expand your social circles. Meet different people, and people who are different from you.
  75. Doodle.
  76. Pray.
  77. Plant a garden.
  78. Take a class.
  79. Eat ‘brain foods’.
  80. Do yoga.
  81. Choose colors that promote creativity.
  82. Learn something new every day.
  83. Drink coffee.
  84. Time your creativity.
  85. Take a social media sabbatical.
  86. Drink green tea.
  87. Take a nap.
  88. Think about a happy memory.
  89. Eavesdrop on conversations in public.
  90. Decide there is no right or wrong way to think about a problem or project.
  91. Read biographies of successful creatives.
  92. Dim the lights.
  93. Learn about Method acting techniques.
  94. Make a YouTube video.
  95. Make an art project using only your feet.
  96. Volunteer.
  97. Watch a sunrise.
  98. Watch a sunset.
  99. Imagine the opposite.
  100. Spend time in another climate or culture. (This one takes planning and $$)
  101. Read classic literature.
  102. Take a photo a day. Try Fat Mum Slim’s photo challenge for inspiration.
  103. Make a conscious decision every day to reject perfectionistic thinking.
  104. Snuggle with a pet.
  105. Soak in a bath.
  106. Play ‘What if?’ Let your mind follow the ideas no matter how silly.
  107. Learn to knit, crochet, embroider.
  108. Watch a travel show or attend a travelogue.
  109. Solve a problem by imagining a fictional invention.
  110. Build with Legos.
  111. Watch the midnight sky.
  112. Relax.

And write. Write to let the percolating ideas flow. What will you do to be more creative in 2014?

What Diana Nyad Can Teach Us About Unwavering Passion, Writing, and Life

triathletes, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Oct. 15, 2005) U.S. Navy, public domain

triathletes, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Oct. 15, 2005) U.S. Navy, public domain

On Monday, September 2, 2013, author, journalist, motivational speaker, and endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

Diana Nyad website

Here are some interesting facts about that sentence:

Diana Nyad tried to complete this swim four other times. She finally did it.  At age 64.

Spending 53 hours straight swimming 110 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida, facing sharks, rough Gulf Stream currents, and the stinging jellyfish that derailed her last three tries, Nyad walked up on shore and announced she had three messages:

  1.  “Never give up.”
  2.  “You’re never too old to chase your dreams.”
  3.  “It looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”

Once Diana decided to chase her dream, she wasn’t going to let go. She trained day after day, month after month, year after year. Even when the dream looked crushed. Repeatedly.

See  what she says is her ‘unwavering passion’ here:

What dream are you willing to chase? What book longs to be written? What obstacle are you willing to overcome? What work are you willing to do to make it happen? 

Dreams without hard work are nebulous fantasies that float away.

Diana could have given up after her first attempt. She could have admitted to failure at her second attempt. It would have been understandable for her to determine that her dream was out of reach after her third and fourth attempt. She could have blamed the jellyfish, the lightning storms, old age closing in. She could have blamed her asthma.

But she says for over thirty years she pictured herself walking up on the Florida shore.

What do you visualize yourself accomplishing? What do you see coming to pass in your mind’s eye when reality gives a different view? What vision of hope do you have for yourself and your life?

Diana didn’t train alone. She didn’t make her final attempt to cross the ocean alone. She had a team of 35 people believing in her dream with her, supporting and working alongside her.

Writing, like endurance swimming, seems like a solitary sport, but it ultimately takes a team.

Who is your dream team? Who believes in you and your vision? Who can you lean on when dream crushers come your way?

Surround yourself with those who want to believe and invest in you and your dream.

Diana Nyad never gave up. Maybe some people thought she was crazy. But she did what she set out to do. And proved it’s never too late.

What dream will you never give up?

Advice To Your Younger Self

inside Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China, image courtesy Dmitry Fironov

inside Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China, image courtesy Dmitry Fironov

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

It’s 12-12-12, so in honor of strange happenings on unusual dates, let’s talk science fiction. Time travel to be specific. What if time travel was a reality?

Have you seen the movie Looper?

It’s an intriguing sci-fi story that explores the consequences of technology in the wrong hands. I also enjoyed all the actors in this film: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and especially Emily Blunt.

Although it has the common dystopian futuristic themes: a dark world full of bloody violence, wanton sex and drug use (oh wait, is that the future?) as well as a time travel element, the second half of the movie is not quite what you expect out of this type of film.

This movie makes you think. It makes you think about how children can be pushed down a path they didn’t have to go but for the decisions and actions of their parents. How important parents are in their children’s lives. How people can change and time changes them, and that the future is never set.

Future Joe goes through a lot to try and warn Present Joe about where his path is leading and how they will both pay for it in the end. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you can stomach bloody violence, foul language and a smidge of unnecessary nudity, it’s an intense story.

What it got me thinking about was what I would change about my past if I could, and if I could warn young me about the future, what I would say.

I would say:

Hey Younger Kristin,

Don’t waste your time, energy and self-worth trying to get the people who should accept you the most to accept you, because they can’t accept themselves. It’s not in them to accept you and love you like they should and that’s not your fault.

Keep reading everything you can get your hands on and keep learning. You are not a failure.

Trust your gut.

You look terrible in those purple dance tights and gray legwarmers. Just sayin.

Dentists aren’t all evil so let them look at your teeth.

You’re going to live past 25 so stop treating your body so badly.

Guys who always ask you for money, won’t introduce you to their friends, and tell you what ugly knees you have are guys that will never care about you, do matter how much they SAY they do.

This baby WILL grow up and do great things for God.

Life is hard just keep going because it gets better.

Money makes things easier but really doesn’t make things right.

Listen to older people. They know some good stuff even if they speak slowly.

He’s the best thing that will ever happen to you and you can trust him so say yes.

The financial adviser is an idiot. Buy the Apple stock.

God is.

Ms. Sweet is right. Keep writing.

Friends are family you choose for yourself. Choose well.

All the things you think are so important really aren’t. Important moments are like flowers that bloom, whither and the petals blow away in the wind. You will miss them if you blink. Be present.

Take more photos.

Signed,

Older and Maybe Wiser (but mostly heavier) Kristin

I don’t think I would really change anything about my life because if I didn’t go through the things I did, I wouldn’t be the person I am, I wouldn’t have the strength I have. But maybe I would let myself get prepared. As in ‘Hey, some crap is going to hit the fan tomorrow, prepare yourself ‘.

For further inspiration:

Chuck Wendig shares entertaining and salty (what else – it’s Chuck Wendig!) advice to his younger self:  25 Things I’d Like To Say To My 18-Year-Old Self

What message(s) would you send to your younger self from your future self if you could? Share in the comments or if you’re inspired write a blog post and share a link.

Happy Little Trees: The Bob Ross Guide To Getting Your Creative Groove On

The North Side of Hook Mountain, Sanford Gifford, 1867, public domain

The North Side of Hook Mountain, Sanford Gifford, 1867, public domain

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

I ran into Bob Ross about 1990, while mothering three kiddos under the age of five. We spent a lot of time on Sesame Street, at The Electric Company and under the Reading Rainbow. In the midst of all our PBS intake, Bob Ross’s show “The Joy of Painting” was a happy little respite. I wasn’t a painter, but I loved watching the show. Bob’s soothing voice and lush enthusiasm for painting calmed my harried soul. I never did any painting, but I created masterpieces vicariously through Bob and his happy little trees.

Fast forward twenty-plus years when I ran into Bob again, on of all things, a YouTube video. Have you seen this?

It’s a lovely video that auto-tunes scenes from “The Joy of Painting”. But it’s actually more than that. It’s like a creative manifesto set to music:

I believe every day’s a good day when you paint

I believe it will bring a lot of good thoughts to your heart

There are no limits here

Start out by believing here (in your mind)

All you have to do is practice

This is your world

You’re the creator

Find freedom on this canvas

Believe that you can do it, cause you can do it

Relax

Let it flow

Think like water

We don’t make mistakes just happy accidents

You can do anything that you want to do, total power

 

You can apply what Bob says to writing or any creative pursuit.

Believe every day’s a good day when you write. All you have to do is practice. There are no limits. Relax. Let the words flow. The story is your world, you’re the creator. Find freedom on the page. Believe that you can do it, cause you can do it.

Go create worlds. Pursue your passion like Bob Ross did. You can do it.

Question: Do you have a creative manifesto? What phrases or mantras would you include? Share in the comments.

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Dave Brubeck and Creative Inspiration

The Painter Prince, Paul Salvator Goldengruen, 2007

The Painter Prince, Paul Salvator Goldengruen, 2007

Dave Brubeck died yesterday. If you’re a child of the 80’s or 90’s you may not recognize his name, but his signature tune Take Five evokes the smoky cool jazz clubs of the late fifties and sixties.

Brubeck was a highly accomplished musician who broke barriers with music. He experimented with time signatures that put an indelible stamp on jazz music. His was one of the first integrated bands in the 1950’s and he was active in the civil rights movement.

They said he couldn’t sell jazz, but his quartet recorded the first jazz album to sell a million copies. They said he couldn’t take jazz to the communist world, but he did, and gave those behind the Iron Curtain hope.

He wasn’t locked into a style or brand, and he composed classical orchestral pieces and religious music as well. He pursued his passion for 60+ years. He was still performing in his nineties. His was a well-lived creative life.

“Rhythm is an international language.” – Dave Brubeck

Enjoy this performance by The Dave Brubeck Quartet and let it stir you to pursue your creative passion, no matter where you are on the journey.