Archive for the ‘creativity boosters’ Category

Well here I am sitting down to write my daily post and my confession is I do not know what to write today. There’s no issue pressing on my heart and the things that are crossing my mind are unrelated and not what you come here for. This happens from time to time and I have a choice. I can skip a day or I can start to write and see what happens. Maybe I will come up with something useful. What’s the worse that can happen? I have to hit delete. Believe me when I tell you it’s happened before.

Maybe that’s the point of this. The way out of writer’s block or any other creative block is to start creating. After all there is nothing that is finished that was not first started. Sometimes you just have to start doing something and see where it goes. You would not believe how many pieces of my art have started this way. It’s not unusual really. Our musician friends will often get together and jam and before long their efforts turn into great songs that have blessed the world. This much I know. No one ever created anything great by whining about creative block.

In most of our art forms, starting costs very little. If I start a painting and it tanks, I just paint it over and start again. Sure I waste a little paint but the cost is minimal. Writing and digital art are even simpler, all you really lose is time. Now don’t get me wrong, time has great value, but I want to create anyway and I can learn a lot in a seemingly failed creation. Every time I start to work, I gain experience if nothing else and that will always beat sitting around worrying that I’ll never have another idea or subjecting myself to the frustration of social media.

This all goes back to my theory that inspiration is not something to be waited for. It’s something to be hunted down. So there you have it. No idea turns into almost 400 words of hopefully useful copy for anyone struggling with a creative block. Honestly though I could have broken it down into a much shorter message.

When you don’t know what to do, START!

(By the way, doing this also spawned the idea for tomorrow’s post.)

Hey everyone don’t forget to check out the new Daily Creative over at There’s a new creative challenge every day. Here’s a sample.
There’s a project every day. I plan top release this as a book by June but in the mean time you can see it every day over there or on the Facebook page. Please subscribe and spread the word.

Confession Time…
There are days of my week where it is really hard to get a post written but no day is harder than Sunday. I’m a pastor and due to a unique set of circumstances, I pastor a church that is pretty far from where I live. I leave fairly early to get there, and even on days where there is nothing after church, it takes pretty long to get home. From there, it seems to be the best day of the week to get together with my son and have some time with my grandson. Add to that the fact that I really like to make Sunday afternoon a time of rest, because God said so and because I need it, I’ve sort of decided that Sunday posts, written on Sunday, have got to stop.

What I’ve decided to do instead is to post my creative challenges each Sunday. I can post these far in advance, you can read them at you leisure and work on them (if you so desire) all throughout the week. They won’t be officially starting until January, this will give me the time to work up a back log of them, so I won’t miss a week or find myself stumbling around Sunday morning trying to keep this commitment when I should be getting myself physically, mentally and spiritually prepared for Sunday service.

I hope you will enjoy these posts and that you will follow along and do some of them yourself, especially if you find yourself blocked creatively.
If you don’t want to wait until January, I have three books that could get you started now.

PIGMENTOFMYI awoke with this idea in the middle of the night last night but I’m not sure why it was so compelling. It’s something I’ve done many times and it’s a great way to jump outside your comfort zone and build your creativity. It’s all about color. It’s quite easy to do, but it will really help you to hone your technique.

You simply recreate a scene or an image, whether real or from your imagination, but in totally different colors. It sounds easy but it can really stretch you. I recommend making your first color choice, and then working all the other colors based on that choice. There are a lot of ways you can go, from garish to subtle. You can work from the color wheel in primaries and there complements or you can throw the color wheel out the window and just go totally random. You can go for aesthetically pleasing, wildly psychodelic or anything in between. The idea is to create something that really pushes you creatively and breaks down the barriers that exist in the minds of even the most creative people.

This exercise will be especially helpful if you find yourself being too literal with color to move you toward painting what you actually see. For example. I remember seeing a painting that blew me away. It was a winter scene at twilight and the snow was all purple. The thing is the artist was not trying to be unusual. Snow isn’t white at twilight The problem was if you ask me to paint snow, my hand will always reach for the white. There are a multitude of colors in anything you see, The trees that I am looking at out the window look green to be sure, but to capture the light on them I would have to use yellows, blues, even black and white, possibly even purples to enhance some the shadows. Similarly when we are young we are taught tree trunks are brown. They’re actually mostly warm grays with a multitude of tones and shadows. How would these color choices change if I decided to make their foliage pink?

I think you’ll find it to be a lot of fun and it will help you in your work with color.

YOURENOTCOVERThe following is an excerpt from a new book project I am working on called You’re NOT Creative… and Other Lies About Creativity You Might Believe

You might be looking at this book and wondering how serious it is. After all, it’s got a green demon-looking monster on the cover. Honestly, it’s as serious as a funeral. So many people walk through this world under the misconception that creativity is for a select, anointed few, and all the rest of us are doomed to wait for their creative products to be doled out to us as we wander around numb, like drones and worker bees. No wonder so many people are discouraged, looking at the immense problems of our world and waiting for someone to do something about them.

Well today I want to tell you, somebody is you and that creativity that you think is so elusive has been in you since childhood, since birth and it’s still there waiting to be rediscovered, brought out and put to work. Some of you aren’t believing me. That’s because you’ve been lied to for far too long.

So let’s start with the basics, creativity and artistic ability are not always the same thing and you don’t need artistic ability (though I will argue in these pages that almost all of us are born with that too, but not yet, we need to work on disproving one lie at a time). Creativity is about problem solving. If you’ve ever solved a problem, you were probably creative. If you’ve ever figured out a way where there seemed to be no way, you were creative. If you’ve ever made do with what you have on hand or used an object for something other than its intended purpose, you were creative. Creativity is in us all. You are creative! You just need to know where to look.

Over the course of this book we will be disproving the lies that most people believe about creativity and we will provide exercises to help you build your creativity. Some of these exercises will seem easy and others will be difficult, but I encourage you to try them all. The reason for this is simple, your creativity might well be pretty buried, and these exercises are designed to help you dig it up. As you work on these exercises, make note of the ones tat come easier to you, the ones you most enjoy. These will provide clues to where your strongest creative gifts lie and help you to find ways to put those gifts to work and that is what we’re about to do… Get to work.

Exercise 1: The Generator
Creativity is all about ideas, so let’s start there. Get a sheet of paper and a pen or your phone or computer or however you record things and start writing ideas. Any ideas. Anything you want about anything you want. Solve problems, create ideas for a novel, a rock band name, an invention, anything you can think of. At this point there are no bad ideas, no stupid ideas. Also I want you to ignore limitations (it’s harder than you think), you have all the resources, the money, the ability, and the people that you need. Just create a list of as many ideas as you can think of. This is called free-creating. Keep it light and keep it fun and generate all you can.

For some this might be intimidating. It can be very hard to think without limits and parameters. If the above is too hard for you, narrow it down. Think of a problem that you believe needs to be solved and come up with as many solutions to the problem as you can. Take all the time you can and the same rules apply, i.e. there are no bad, stupid ideas, and you have everything you need (we’ll deal with real-world limitations later).

Go for it!

createbetterThis will be a short post today, by design. The reason for that is simple. I’m resting. I’m taking the day off. I’m out of town celebrating my wife’s birthday with some friends.

The truth is, we all need this and your creativity will actually suffer without rest. As a matter of fact, I actually wrote this post a few days ago, planning ahead so I actually could rest.

I didn’t always live this way. There was a time where I ascribed to the truck company’s slogan, “The best never rest.” I since have determined that the person who wrote that slogan has a serious problem. When I lived by that motto, I almost lost everything, even my life.

Read the title of this post again. It’s called Create a Better Life. A big part of creating a better life is taking some time to enjoy it.

Don’t skip that step. It’s crucial!

createbetterThe next step in creating something is deciding what the format will be and how it will be delivered. Who will your audience be? How will you bring your creation to them? Where and When? Why should they come to you or buy your product/service? What do you hope/believe they will gain from it? The key to all of this is knowing what you have to offer, who it can help and how to deliver value. If you know these three things, success should follow. So let’s have a look at my project. Who will your audience be? Remember we are still early in the process and this is happening in real time, so some refinement will be required. At this point it feels pretty broad as virtually everyone envisions a better life. My sense is that while many desire it, a relative few will be willing to do what it takes, of them some will be repelled by the concept if creativity. This will narrow the field to people who are already somewhat entrepreneurial, visionary, but need some guidance and encouragement. (As I looked at this, I got a new idea modifying the content slightly and offering this to companies to look at the processes and procedures with fresh/creative eyes, so I wrote that down and returned to the task at hand.) Another thing I want to look at, at this point is who I want to speak to. Most of what I have done to this point in life has required very little in the way of resources and a lot of creativity. I feel that this is where I will be most successful so part of my promotion is going to include that we are going to start with what we have, low cost, high reward ideas. To refine, the audience for this initial offering will be people who are seeking a better life, who are already somewhat entrepreneurial, looking for low cost (at least initially) solutions leading to a high reward. How will you bring your creation to them? I’m planning a variety of vehicles. The initial offering will be a day long seminar/workshop featuring a combination of teaching/demonstration combined with hands on activities. I am working toward making this something that can be replicated regularly and marketed in a variety of areas. In conjunction with that, I want to have at least one workbook (you’re reading parts of that right now). I plan on adding more books as I go, as well as offering a coaching service for those who want to take their ideas further. I also plan on a podcast and continuing the information on Where and When? The first workshop will be held early summer in a local hotel ballroom which I will be securing soon. Why should they come to you or buy your product/service? I’ve worked virtually my entire adult life in creative professions. I’m a professional artist. I’ve designed everything from grocery circulars to theater sets, I even freelanced for a licensee of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m a professional speaker whose been doing workshops on various aspects of creativity for over 15 years. I’ve written several books and resources on creativity and creative ministry and I am a student of creativity and a daily blogger on the topic on three different blogs, and What do you hope/believe they will gain from it? My goal is for people to come way from this seminar with at least one idea they can put into action and a plan to take that idea into reality. From there, the skies the limit. So who’d like to join me in creating a better life?

A friend of mine asked me if I could design a logo for him and his radio show. I worked this up for him.
This program is part of his ministry and I believe in what He is doing, so I used my gift to serve him. (1 Peter 4:10) I can’t always do things like this or I would never get anything else done, but part of our calling in this life is to help and serve people.

Sometimes we need to look for opportunities to help people just because it is the right thing to do. Of course there are other benefits. You improve your own skills, gain experience, get exposure and develop portfolio pieces just to name a few.

Who could you serve today? Seek out an opportunity and go do some good.

Sometimes you gotta serve somebody!

GENIUSIt doesn’t take a genius.
Artists make art.
Writers write.
Singers sing.
Players play.
Actors act.
Designers Design.
Speakers speak.
Preachers preach.
Dancers dance…

I know you’re really tempted to say, “Well DUH!” Ah, ah, ah, not so fast. I run into so many people who say they want to be writers and artists and musicians and on and on and on. I want to have sympathy, but I keep going back to Yoda. “There is no try. Do or do not.” The arts are not something we want to do, they are something we do and when you do it, you are it. So if you’re an artist, don’t wait for permission, make your art and hang it on a wall. Same goes for every one else.

It doesn’t take a genius, it takes someone who will tell their fear to shut up and do the work they were created to do.

A lot of times we creatives look at limitations as a bad thing, but for the most part they’re not. Think about it, when someone gives you a broad project, one with very little in the way of specifications, what is the first thing we have to do? We have to narrow it down. We have to begin to find the boundaries. Even if it’s our own project, we have to continue narrowing it down until the creation becomes tangible. Limitations, boundaries and borders actually help the creative process. They help us narrow things down, help us understand the problem that needs to be solved (problem solving is the essence of creativity) and give us the parameters within which we can succeed.

42nd Street, Tulpehocken High SchoolI learned this years ago when I was hired to paint sets and lead the student set painting crew for a local high school’s musical. We had huge things to create and a very limited budget. The budget was a limitation, but it made us get creative. I learned to take advantage of the mis-mixed shelf at the paint store, and I learned to make inexpensive materials look professional. I learned the ten foot rule (if it can’t be seen from 10 feet away, don’t worry about it). I learned to simplify my design so that others, inexperienced students, could help me to achieve the vision, rather than doing it all myself in a panic, while the students entrusted to me could do nothing but watch.

Deadlines also can be quite helpful. I would never have attempted to do what I do today, like a full four foot painting in four minutes, were it not for spending many years trying to meet tight deadlines.

Limitations can be quite helpful to the creative process, so don’t fret them, let them stretch you. This takes the focus off what you don’t have and forces you to look at what you already have and learn to do the best you can with it.

Limitations are your creativity friend. Embrace them and get creative.