Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Creativity Tips: Forget the Rule of 3

Want to be a creative genius? Learn the rules. Then, break 'em. Break 'em with purpose and passion.

Creativity. It's the real thing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Creativity Tips: Remember the Rule of 3

In yesterday's post, I used the sentence, "Embrace the challenge." It's a good, strong sentence because it follows the Rule of 3.

The Rule of 3 works in floral design, in painting, in writing -- even in music. Since I know writing, I'll use three literary examples:
  1. I love you.
  2. Ready, aim, fire.
  3. Tell them what you're going to tell them; tell them; tell them what you told them.

Three words, three phrases, three points in a painting. The Rule of 3 works. Do you need an easy way to remember the rule? That's simple.

Just do it.

P.S. Thanks to Mike for the musical tip!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Creative Inspiration: Let's Hear It for Marlee Matlin

On Dancing with the Stars this season, Marlee Matlin astounded millions of people, week after week, with her incredible moves on the dance floor. She remained a strong competitor while other stars went home.

She was voted off last week, but that doesn't change the facts: Marlee Matlin dances beautifully. And she can't hear the music.

The next time your creative muse is silent, think of Marlee. Embrace the challenge. Get out there and dance.

P.S. Yes, I know. "Let's Hear it for Marlee Matlin" could be considered bad taste. It might be if you used it. But I'm in the club. I'm half-deaf. So here's two creativity tips to go along with the inspiration: You can only poke fun at your own group. And when I say, "You'd better stay on my right side," it's advice -- not a threat. I won't hear you on the left.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Pick a Word, Any Word

You definitely need to get out a clean sheet of paper for this one. And a pen. This isn't the kind of thing you do on a computer.

My personal mantra, courtesy of my daughter Kate, is "Breathe in. Breathe out." That mantra is summarized in a gift from my sister Eva -- a silver stone simply inscribed, "Breathe."

My friend Angela and I recently gave our friend Kat a piece of art spelling out, "Believe."

This is where you stop reading about the wonderful women in my life, and get to work: If you could choose only ONE word for a personal statement, what would it be?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday to Mom!

Are you sensing a theme this week? Yep ... today is my mother's 87th birthday.

Talk about a creative instigator. I am who I am because Mom has always thought that her kids were the bestest, brightest, most brilliant people on earth. (I love her, so I let her keep those delusions about my brother and sister.)

Mom does more than inspire creativity -- she embodies it. So, in honor of her special day, here's one of her published poems. Enjoy!

On Criticism
© 2008 by Lillian Sokoloff

Too quick are we to criticize,
Too slow are we to praise,
The comings and the goings
Of other people's ways.

If only we would stop to think
Before the words come out,
Perhaps a nicer thought would come
For us to talk about.

So next time you are tempted,
Unkind things you're about to say,
Stop, reflect, remember
What you have read today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Go ahead ... laugh. But it's my party, and I'll sing if I want to.

Here's my theory: Life is short and so am I. Let's celebrate every chance we get.

You are hereby invited to party all day -- in spirit, if not in person.

P.S. Yes, this is why all my posts appear at 4:22. Makes it easier for you to remember the date next year, and get those gifts and cards in the mail.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Creativity Tips: Avoid Shiny Objects

When I take JoJo the pup outside, he's easily distracted by anything -- blowing leaves, blades of grass, bizarre sidewalk smells. And, when he's distracted, he can't take care of business.

Unfortunately, I'm a lot like JoJo. I don't sniff concrete, but I am easily distracted by what one friend called, "bright, shiny objects."

I've discovered an easy solution to this. I take my laptop and go somewhere quiet. But not too quiet. I want noise, but no music. I like a window, but not too big a window. (Ooh -- did you see that bird? Wow!)

Now, what works for me may not work for you. Experiment. Find out where and how you focus best.

It's not always easy, especially if you're working on a project that's less than captivating. But, as Robert Frost said, "The best way out is always through."

I'd write more, but JoJo needs me to show him the best way out ...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Fun: Mother Knows Best

When I was a kid, a few quick years ago, my mom used to plan Fun Days. Basically, it was a vacation in town.

We'd get up and get going first thing in the morning. We'd eat breakfast out, then do something special -- wander around the zoo, play miniature golf, go shopping. We'd follow that with lunch out, and another adventure -- bowling, or a movie.

Sometimes we stayed out for dinner, sometimes we were ready to come home. But always, always, we felt great. We felt loved.

Give it a try. Look at your calendar right now and schedule a Fun Day for you and your special someone -- or someones. Trust me on this: You've got the time. And Mother does know best.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creativity Tips: Get Organized

I know, I know. In one week, I'm telling you to play it safe and to get organized. It's frightening.

Relax. I'm still living in chaos. I'm just hoping for better for you.

When I opened Outlook this morning, I had 1074 emails, 337 unread. My desk is covered, despite that paperless society promise of years ago. (What the heck happened there?) My "to do" list is, well ... I don't know. The list is lost.

Why am I sharing? Because this I know: I am not alone.

Creativity is not an excuse for clutter. Get organized. You'll think better.

I think.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Creativity Tips: Try a New Brain

I recently participated in a brainstorming session with a woman I know, but rarely work with. (Yes, I'm ending a sentence with a preposition. I can do that. I know the rules so I can choose to break them.)

It was a blast. There's something tremendously energizing about tapping into new ideas and new approaches.

The next time you have a creative challenge to solve, use your brain. Look beyond the usual suspects. Expand your creative team and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Creativity Tips: Play It Safe

Ordinarily, a Chief Creative Instigator wouldn't tell you to play it safe. We creative types like to be rebels. Hey, I'm the one who had the "Question Authority" bumper sticker on my first VW bug.

However, there are times when the best bumper-sticker advice is, "Don't mess with success."

With that in mind, I'm starting a new blog. It's just for me, and it's just a place to safely experiment. I know there are technological features of this blog that I'm not using. I also know that I will never be a Chief Technology Instigator.

So, I'm taking the smart creative route. I'll experiment on my own, then introduce the successful features here. It's sort of like baking a fancy new dessert for the family -- before I offer it up to our gourmet dinner club.

While the name of the new experimental blog doesn't matter, it does. Why? Because all words matter to me. I'm a writer. It's my job. So consider this a quick creativity exercise: What would you call the blog?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Creativity Tips: Shake Well

Inspiration is everywhere. When I stumble into the kitchen for my coffee this morning, I'll pour Silk soy creamer into the cup. And, as I do every morning, I'll notice the copy on the carton: Shake well & smile often.

What a lovely idea. Add a few words and lots of personality.

This week, see the inspiration that surrounds us. Shake things up. And smile often.

P.S. The Silk carton is also the source for this week's Quick Quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Insist upon yourself. Be original."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Fun: Go Fly a Kite

OK, here's the deal. Last week's Friday Fun vote on "game or no game" was a draw. This puts me between a rock and a hard place.

So, here's what I've decided: Some Fridays will have games, some won't.

If you think we should always have games, you can tell me to go fly a kite.

If you think we shouldn't ever have games, you can tell me to go fly a kite.

If you think I'm a Solomon-like creative genius, you can just tell me that.

P.S. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Branch Out

You don't have to take out a clean sheet of paper for this one.

What I want you to do is go to your local library, one of the finest inventions ever. If you don't have a library card, smack yourself upside the head, then get one. If you do have a library card, bypass the thump and proceed to the amazing stacks of wonderful books.

Now, choose a genre you never or rarely read. Biography, science fiction, history, Western, whatever. If being out of your literary element makes you twitchy, find a book of short stories.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Creativity Tips: Proofread Everything

Everything you write -- from emails to thank you notes* -- sends a message about you. Send the right message. Proofread everything. Then, if time permits, put it away and proof it again later. Why bother? Because ...

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in what oredr the ltteers in a word are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is that the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.

*I know you write thank you notes. You're reading this blog. You're obviously a superior human being, and understand the importance of putting actual pen to actual paper and expressing gratitude. You'd be astonished at how many people neglect this ... simply astonished.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Creativity Tips: Hang Up and Drive

Want to do your best creative work today? Focus. Stop the insane multi-tasking for 30 minutes, and just do one thing. Turn the beeping email notification off, forward the phone and focus.

30 minutes. That's all I'm asking.

Your brain will thank you.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Creativity Tips: Question Perception

My sister Eva turns 50 today. I still introduce her as my “baby” sister – and I still think of her as my “baby” sister. And if you think that’s silly, consider this:

Some 20 years ago, our mom asked Eva how much she charged per hour for babysitting. When Eva told her, Mom responded, “Oh, I charge more, but I’m an adult.”

Eva was probably 30 at the time, a college graduate, a wife, and a stepmother. And, if that weren’t enough, her fulltime job was managing an infant and toddler daycare center.

“Oh, I charge more, but I’m an adult.”

Today, do something creative and generous. Consider one important person in your life. Consider the longstanding, preconceived notions you have about that person – and weigh those notions against reality.

I’ve done it – and I’ve decided to really be generous, and cling to this particular prejudice. After all, if Eva’s still a baby, I’m still a youngster.

Happy Birthday, baby sister!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Fun: Puppy Love

In honor of the new family pup, JoJo, here's the perfect screensaver.*

And, a Friday Fun question for you wonderful Creative Instigation team members. Do you like the goofy games? Expect to see one every Friday? Want to see one every Friday?

I'm a MAJOR LOSER when it comes to anything that involves eye-hand coordination, so I'm not the best judge on this question ... I leave it up to you!

*Thanks to Vickie for the link! And to all of you for your wonderful input and ideas! Here's to a great weekend!!! (And I have now broken every creative rule ever written re: exclamation points.)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Creativity Tips: Got Time?

Of course you don't "got time." I don't "got time" either. And, right there, you see why creative theft is a "time-honored" tradition:
  1. It saves you time when I use a phrase that immediately resonates.
  2. It saves me time developing a headline that simply doesn't warrant hours of creative angst.

Because there is honor among thieves, I'll use "Got Time?" on a blog about stealing creative ideas. I won't use it on a client's brochure.

I also respect the concept that "Possession is nine-tenths of the law." When I steal something, I own it. And it's my responsibility to make it better.

The creative geniuses with the Got Milk? campaign understand. They're delighted with the extra exposure gained through copycats, and even put together this "Got Ripped Off" poster. And, they're stealing their own idea and making it better.

Mike Brown -- who allows me to continually steal his ideas -- is my partner in crime today. Steal some ideas from his post on Plagiarism Fridays!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Creativity Tips: Fringe Benefits

One of my clients is fond of saying, "A deadline is the most liberating thing known to man."

I know this: Deadlines work. I finished the scarf (and please note that it is a scarf, as opposed to previous attempts) in time to wrap it up for Kate's 18th birthday.

I wasn't planning to put fringe on the scarf, but I messed up the first few rows. The fringe hides the goof-up. And there's an added bonus: It's pretty.* It even makes the scarf look less homemade -- a definite plus for a teenager.

When you're working on creative projects of any type, mistakes happen. My advice? Don't fret. Fringe.

*My mom says everything happens for the best. She may be right ...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Creativity Tips: Be a Fool

Today is the perfect day to play. Buy yourself a toy. Try a hula hoop. "Walk the dog" with a yoyo. Color with new crayons. Stretch the Silly Putty.

Be a fool. It's good for your creative soul. No foolin'.