Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Fun: Happy Halloween!

When Pumpkins Drink ....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Site Seeing: Holley Portraits

One of my favorite Paul Simon songs touches on The Myth of Fingerprints.

Holley Portraits make it clear: No one leaves a fingerprint like you.

Thanks to Leslie for the link to Holley Portraits. And let me know if you make your own fingerprint portrait!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Head Start on a Haiku

I know, I know. It's not the first time I've asked you to write a haiku. But here's why I keep coming back to this poetic format: It's doable. No matter how busy you are, you have time to write 17 syllables.

Remember the rules: Five syllables in the first line. Seven syllables in the second line. Five syllables in the third line.

And, there's a twist this time. Let's all incorporate the phrase: Love is letting go.

(The wonderful thing about creativity? None of us will do the same thing with that same line.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Creativity Tips: Lessons from Fourth Grade

In my attempt to turn the recent basement flood into a positive*, I've been using the resulting disarray as incentive to clean things up. And I found this among the school papers from Mary's fourth-grade class:

From the author talk today I learned ...
that you never, never, never give up.
And don't throw away your first draft.

I can't think of any better advice.

*Pollyanna lives. And don't cold, wet Octobers make you want to watch Pollyanna? Possibly with a cold, wet beverage ... but still.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Creativity Tips: Make It Personal

One of the first things you learn as a copywriter (or a radio newscaster, in my case) is: Make it personal. Don't talk to thousands of people. Don't talk to some ephemeral "audience." Speak directly to one person.

Last week, MoveOn came out with a classic example of using technology to personalize a message. In this case -- Jan, get out there and vote! Take a look.

P.S. Thanks to Amber and Leslie for the link!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Thursday's Child

In the classic children's poem, "Thursday's child has far to go."

Take out a clean sheet of paper. List seven places where Thursday's child is going. Give reasons, if you want, or just locations.

Remember, this is a creativity exercise: a location can be anything from a galaxy to a chair. You choose.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Creativity Tips: Hang Up and Walk

During my daily walks with JoJo the wonder dog, I frequently walk by VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE on their cell phones having VERY IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS.

It's ridiculous. We're so multi-task oriented, we're ruining one of the nicest events of the day. A leisurely stroll. An opportunity for creative rejuvenation. A chance to enjoy the sounds of kids swinging on the playground, leaves skittering on the sidewalk, dogs barking in the distance.

I am now taking a vow of silence. While walking. Alone. I am not that important, and my call is not that important. I can take 30 minutes to just walk. If you need me, leave a message. If I need you, I'll call when I get home.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Creativity Tips: Say No in November

My life is full. This is absolutely a good thing. It's also why I launched my own personal anti-holiday stress campaign last year: Say No in November.

Beginning now, I stop automatically saying, "Yes," to every job, every invite, and every volunteer request. I weigh my options, and choose carefully.

Writing the 50,000-word novel suggested in yesterday's post does not fall into the carefully chosen options. It might for you.

Or, if you're on overload now, join me! Use the campaign as a good excuse: No, I can't possibly chair that committe (attend that party, buy that gift, or work on your tedious project). I'm very, very busy with the Say No in November campaign.

It could catch on. Hmmm. SNIN isn't much of an acronym. Anyone got a better idea?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Creativity Exercise: NaNoWriMo

OK. "NaNoWriMo" has to be one of the worst smushed-up words/acronyms ever.

It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Participants are challenged to complete a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. You can gear up for it now. In Kansas City, The Writers Place will host a kick-off event Sunday, Oct. 26, from 6 - 10 p.m.

For CI team members outside KC, check out the NaNoWriMo site. I do like the approach. Here's a quote from the site:

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

I won't be participating. And I'll explain why. Tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Fun: Missionaries and Cannibals

Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results."

Playing Missionaries and Cannibals reminds me of that. I seem to make the same moves, over and over again, as the cannibals feast. I hope you have better luck!

(If I'm right-brained, this must be a left-brained game.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creativity Exercise: What Is She Saying?

According to my daughter Kate's anthropology textbook, 60% of language is non-verbal.

So, in honor of the political season here in America, list five things people could be saying with a wink.

Share, if you want. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Creativity Tips: Turn Things Around

Last week, I was eating at First Watch with my mom and sister Eva, and saw this -- the subhead is a great example of paying off an eye-catching, phrase-turning headline. It's hard to read with this pic from my cell phone, but it says, "Celebrating 25 years of putting you first."

I like it. And Eva had the great idea of using it as a post. You thank, Eva!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Site Seeing: Grammar Girl™

You've gotta love a Web site that poses the question: Why isn't "gruntled" a word? Thanks to Jody for suggesting Grammar Girl!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Shit Happens

Well, I'm not saying it was a bad weekend, but the disaster recovery team just left the house, and I'll never again look at a sewer pipe without wincing.

Fortunately, as I mulled over posting or pouting, my good buddy, The Big Rabbit, came to my rescue. In addition to pointing out that home ownership is "greatly over-rated," he pointed me toward a site that appeals to me as an artist, a knitter and a nut.

Friends are good.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Fun: Double Fun!

A few more weeks, and we'll be through,
But first: this Sarah Palin video for you.

And, because there's more to life than poking fun at politicians, here's a Bart Simpson game -- with nothing political on the menu. And nothing at all on Bart.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Creative Inspiration: Cherish Your Doubts

Today is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Faith, or lack of it, is an incredibly personal choice -- and not always a constant. Knowing that, I want to share one of my favorite readings from the weekly prayerbook used by Reform Jews*:

Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the handmaiden of truth. Doubt is the key to the door of knowledge; it is the servant of discovery. A belief which may not be questioned binds us to error, for there is incompleteness and imperfection in every belief.

Doubt is the touchstone of truth; it is an acid which eats away the false.

Let none fear for the truth, that doubt may consume it; for doubt is a testing of belief.

For truth, if it be truth, arises from each testing stronger, more secure. Those who would silence doubt are filled with fear; the house of their spirit is built on shifting sands.

But they that fear not doubt, and know its use, are founded on a rock.

They shall walk in the light of growing knowledge; the work of their hands shall endure.

Therefore, let us not fear doubt, but let us rejoice in its help: It is to the wise as a staff to the blind; doubt is the handmaiden of truth.

*This reading is also used by other denominations.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Creativity Exercise: Get Writer's Block

I was wandering through Borders the other day, and found this wonderful book, The Writer's Block, by Jason Rekulak. It reminded me of the great session I attended at the summer festival for the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

So, in keeping with that, here's a paraphrased example of one of the 786 ideas in the book: As a student, Ethan Canin (who has taught at Iowa), was captivated by the stories of John Cheever. To discover what it would be like to write them, Canin literally typed them out.

It's a brilliant idea -- especially for those of us who process through our fingers (as many of you know, I can't think without a pen in my hand or my fingers on a keyboard).

As Rekulak says, "... this is an opportunity to sift an author's words through your own hands, to feel a fraction of what Flannery O'Connor or Raymond Chandler might have felt as they completed the final typewritten drafts of their masterpieces."

Exercise 1: Give it a try! Exercise 2? Get The Writer's Block.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Creativity Tips: Question Assumptions

I was on vacation last week with the woman commonly known as Lynnmybestfriendsincefourthgrade.

Lynn assumes I'm smart. Now, I do have my areas of expertise. But Lynn assumes I'm just all-around smart.

Well, she did. Then, I took her on a "two-hour" drive to Canyon de Chelly from Sedona. Don't pull out the map. I'll confess. It's closer to a six-hour drive. One way.

Yessirree bob. I can't read maps. Never could. Don't know why I tried.

Make our adventure your advantage: Question your assumptions. Especially if they're assumptions about people you love.

And never ask me to navigate you out of anything but a bad paragraph.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Creativity Tips: I'm baaaaaaaaaack

Hi CI team!

Thank you for all the posts last week! You're brilliant, and generous, and I appreciate the help more than you know. (My sister sends her thanks too -- she loved the sites you suggested.)

Here's what I saw when we landed in Phoenix. So I was laughing right from the start.

P.S. to Anonymous: You're right. I should go away more often! The analytics indicated an increase in readership. Hmmmmmmm.
P.P.S. The "How's My Flying?" decal is the perfect example of stealing something and making it better.