Tuesday, June 30, 2009

To Book or Not to Book ... That is the Question

Earlier this month, I suggested that we -- as a team -- could put together an ebook on creativity. I should have reminded you about today's deadline earlier. So far, we have zero chapters.

That's fine -- not all ideas work. Just wanted to toss it out there one more time and see if there's a groundswell of chapters.

And I still don't know why the CI blog isn't publishing right. I've checked the clock, and it seems to be set correctly. I may have to send a question to Help.

Dear Help ...

Creativity Tips: One Sweet Threat

As a creative instigator, threats may not be part of your daily vocabulary. Gotta tell you, there are times threats give accountability that needed knockout punch.

For example, my sister and I have had great success with weigh-in reports on the last day of each month. We've lost weight, and kept it off. Until ... well, there were the holidays, and then birthdays, and then Saturdays ...

A few pounds crept on, and wouldn't fall off. So, we resorted to a meaningful threat. Get the weight off, or no chocolate for a month. (Hey, you pick the threat that works for you. Chocolate works for us.)

When all the positive reinforcements in the world won't work, change your approach. Just remember: Keep your threats sweet. After all, the CI team has a reputation to maintain.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Creativity Tips: Clean Up Your Act

This approach clearly worked for Einstein. Maybe it works for you. But, I'm betting there's some pile of papers on your desk, right now, that's just clutter.

Let's start the week with five minutes of cleaning. And by "cleaning," I mean throwing away. My theory? There's something you can toss. And you'll think better with a cleaner desk. I know I do.

Of course, it's all relative ...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Fun: Hidden Objects

I have kept this deep, dark secret hidden long enough. I will now reveal the truth:

I am in love with hidden object games. Yep. I go to Yahoo, download the freebies, and waste hours of time every week. Did I say waste? No, no, I meant ... I spend hours of time enhancing my visual acuity.

Yeah, that's it. I'm doing it for work ...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Creativity Tips: Change Your Space

OK, we'll start with a stop. Stop reading and look around your space. Then come back.

(La-de-dah-de-dah-de-doo .... Oh! You're back. Good.)

Now, tell me, how long has it been since you rearranged things? Put up a new photo? Pinned a new note to the bulletin board? If it's been a month or more, take a minute and make a change.

I just found my lost Groucho glasses. Instead of putting them away with my other creativity props, I put them on display in my bookcase. Every time I walk into the office, the glasses make me laugh. In another week or two, I won't notice them ... but right now, they're new. And new sparks brain cells. And brain cells spark creativity. See where I'm going? Oh, you are good.

Change your space.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Creativity Tips: Smile

I'm going to let you listen in on a conversation I recently had with an 86-year-old widower, one of the sweetest men ever. First, picture a bear hug. Then ...

Jan: How was your week?
Ray: It was great. I smile a lot, no matter what. That helps.

Abraham Lincoln once said, Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. Make up your mind today. Be happy. If you're not, smile anyway. It helps.

P.S. I'm smiling, but I'm having technical issues -- the posts aren't publishing at their scheduled 4:22 a.m. time. I haven't figured out why, but thanks for your patience while I work on it. And I'll give a big Creative Instigation smiley face to the first person who tells us why the posts publish at 4:22.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Avoid the Cone of Shame

If you haven't seen Up yet, go. Go now. Go today. Before we make you wear the cone of shame.

And, my kids think I'm silly (big surprise there), but I think the address on the house -- 18 -- is not a coincidence.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Random Posts and Good Thoughts

I'm in one of those moods. No, not the snarly type. The reflective type. So, this week, you get a variety of posts, beginning with ...

I believe sending good thoughts out into the universe is a worthwhile thing. Go ahead and disagree if you like -- plenty of room in the universe for different opinions. But, when it comes to this topic, I'm not changing my mind. If you'd like, join me in sending good thoughts to:
  • Ben, having a tonsilectomy today
  • Lorene, just starting chemo
  • Duana, facing yet another surgery
  • Bernie, stronger every day
I'm also feeling grateful for the simple fact that I'm here and healthy and fully capable of being snarly ...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Fun: The Truth About Twitter

Thanks to Terri for sending this!
And, yes, I am on Twitter.
So I can poke fun at it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Creativity Exercise: First Lines

One of the things we talked about at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival was the importance of first lines in short stories. They're also important in poems, novels, business letters, emails, ads, love letters, and grocery lists.

Well, maybe not so much in grocery lists.

Anyway, here are a few first lines I'm playing with. Come up with at least three first lines you like today. Post if you want -- I'm thinking about putting together a poem of first lines. Here's where I'm going:
  1. If they would only die, she could write a great novel.
  2. Deirdre Stein was dead the moment her head hit the ground -- she just didn't know it.
  3. It's amazing how quickly you get used to blood.
  4. In my house, we weren't allowed to say the word "hate."
  5. The recycling fairy came to visit last night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Creativity Tips: Selling Creative Brilliance

My friend Sarah followed up on a LinkedIn post, and asked me: How do you sell an "off-the-wall" creative solution to corporate souls? It's a great question. I have a few ideas -- and I'd love to hear what the rest of you think!
  1. Tie the solution back to something the client said or did. "Corporate souls" are more likely to buy the idea if it feels/sounds/looks like their idea.
  2. Focus on the strategy behind the solution, rather than the creative brilliance. We* have a tendency to jump up and down and say, "Look how creative this is!" Sometimes, the best way to get credit for your creativity is to let others "discover" it.
  3. Start with the end. Before you unveil the idea, explain what the solution is expected to produce, and why you believe it will work. Get everyone focused on the success ahead, and they're predisposed to like your idea.
Do you have any creativity questions? Send them my way! The doctor is in ... and I take all forms of insurance.

*Yes. By "we" I mean me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Site Seeing: Dan Baum

Take a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at writing for the New Yorker. I haven't clicked on all the links within the post yet, but I'm sure there's a wealth of information on how to write a good story proposal. And a good story.

And, just reading his Tweet report makes me want to buy Dan Baum's book about New Orleans, Nine Lives.

Thanks to Leslie for the link!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Creativity Tips: Take Time. Proofread.

You may be desperate to finish a project. Doesn't matter. Take time to proofread. Or you could get this ... a classic example from Microsoft on a new product release.

Thanks to Bud for the link!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Fun: Total Eclipse of the Heart

I never, never, NEVER understand music videos. So this literal video version of Total Eclipse of the Heart made me laugh out loud. If you'd prefer the inspiration for the video, go here. The gorilla version makes me laugh too.

And, the sad thing is, I love this song ...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Creativity Tip: Stretch

This weekend, I'm going to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival with my local workshop buddies. I thought about taking a poetry class, but ended up enrolling in Writing the Weekend Short Story.

Now, this is waaaaaaaay out of my comfort zone. I haven't written a short story in, well, I don't remember the last time I wrote a short story.

So, why am I excited about this session? Simple. It's good to stretch. It's good to try something new now and then. If I write a great short story, fantastic! If not, I bet I learn something that applies to my next poem -- or my next business assignment.

Give your creativity a workout this summer. Explore a new genre, pick up a different paint brush, buy a disposable camera, get out that sidewalk chalk. Stretch!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Creativity Exercise: The Way I See It

Ever get a drink at Starbucks and read the quote on the back of the cup?* Here's your chance to be the one quoted. Write your brief message to the caffeinated world, and submit it today!

Thanks to Chris for the idea!

*Or would it be the front of the cup? And how could you tell? And would the front vary depending on how the sippy cup lid was twisted? (Or is this twisted view just The Way I See It???)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Creativity Tips: Stop Hiding

This past Saturday, I spent most of the day in an XL T-shirt and a pair of shorts that are two sizes too big. Very comfy. Very me. Sunday, I bit the bullet and put on my swimsuit.

Which outfit made me look thinner? Yep, the swimsuit. I looked better when I was displaying every ounce of every curve, including the many ounces I'm still trying to lose. Go figure.

We're all covering up something -- pounds, talents, fears. This week, take a chance. Stop hiding.

(Thanks to Mike for the musical link idea. It's perfect.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Creativity Tips: Let It Go

It's summertime, and the living should be easy. So, let it go. Let something go. Consider all the things on your "to do" list, and find a few that aren't really all that critical.

Then, reclaim summer. I spent an hour on Sunday sunbathing. Sure, I read a little bit while I was lounging. But, mostly, I just relaxed. Oddly enough, the world did not stop spinning when I stopped multi-tasking.

We all have time to relax. Let's take it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hey, Kids! Let's Put on a Book!

My Brainzooming buddy Mike has been featuring guest blogger posts recently, and -- as usual -- I'm going to steal his idea. And -- as usual -- twist it. Because that's what makes our creative partnership fun.

If any of you would like to write a chapter for an ebook on creativity, write it. Send it to me. I retain the right to edit your copy, or to send it back and ask you to do better. (I'm a mom. It's my job.)

Put on your creative hard hat. This is our book, and it can be anything we want. Write about any creative endeavor, idea, tool. Your chapter can be 10 words or 1,000 words.

Heck, your chapter can be no words.

Send me a photograph. Send me a doodle. Send me whatever you want by the end of June, and I bet we'll have one amazing ebook!

P.S. No, I am not as old as Mickey Rooney. Thanks for asking.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Creativity Tips: The Dr. is In

I'm always lecturing ... keep it short. Dr. Seuss says it so much better:

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.

Thanks to Mike L. for the idea!

P.S. This would have been my dad's 91st birthday. I miss him.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Creativity Tips: A Kohl's Card-Carrying Genius

Somewhere, there's an under-appreciated genius doing creative work for Kohl's.

Women's wallets have changed. Many of us now use vertical slips like these for credit cards, rather than the old photo-sleeve cases.

Yet, of all the credit cards I have, only Kohl's had the good sense to change their creative design to accommodate the new style. When I pointed this out to a cashier at Kohl's, she was astonished -- hadn't noticed it.

Now, this woman must have handled thousands of these cards. And, while she realized there was a new design, she had never thought about why. She had never, not once, considered the talent and excellent thinking behind it.

Creativity surrounds us. Let's keep our eyes open and appreciate it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Creativity Tips: Time to Take Stock

How can it possibly be June? The year is flying ...

As we start a new month (and season!), it's the perfect time to take stock of where we are. If you had a creative goal for the year, how are you doing? If you're on track, mazel tov! I'm very proud of you. If not, no worries. You still have plenty of time to pull it together.

Start by building in accountability -- it's an important part of reaching a goal. For example, knowing my sister will call the last day of every month for a "weigh-in report" helps keep my weight in check.

Accountability also gives you the perfect way to measure when it's time to celebrate. Here's to June, here's to summer, and here's to you!