Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fun: Edit Your Own

Want to edit your own amazingly cool TV commercial? Now you can. Be careful ... it's addictive.

P.S. "" is the link -- and a great example of developing a URL that's easy to remember. No small feat, given our daily deluge of data.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Creativity Tips: Try Something Old

Think back. What's one of your favorite childhood activities? Something you haven't done in a while?

As a kid, I loved to read novels. Lately, seems like I haven't had time. I'm now making time to read -- and the inspiration is recharging my writing batteries.

Today, don't try something new. Try something old!

P.S. Philip Roth is amazing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Creative Inspiration: Khoda

Periodically, people tell creative souls: There's nothing new. It's all been said before, painted before, done before.

Don't believe them. No one sees the world the way you do. And no one sees the world the way Reza Dolatabadi does. Take a look.

Thanks to Terri for the link!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trust the Cookie: But Proofread

Too much editing is a bad thing.
Too little proofing? Also a problem.
Write. Edit.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Creativity Tips: Don't. Edit. Everything.

Recently, I told you to edit everything -- and then edit it again. Today, I'm rescinding my advice. Why? Because I tried this cool doodling exercise that Leslie discovered, and I found myself editing my doodles.

That's insanity.

There are some creative endeavors that should never be edited. Doodling is one of them. I'm printing another scribble sheet and doing it again. Without thinking. And I'm putting my red pen down.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fun: Eat, Pray, Love, Watch

Several people ... and one big bunny ... have pointed me toward this Elizabeth Gilbert clip on TED, and it's definitely worth watching. Take a different look at creative genius, and here's to a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Creativity Tips: Laugh at Yourself

I promised you another fashion post ... so here you go. My fashion style, summarized beautifully in a gift from my buddy Lynn. Who thinks I really, really, really ought to let go of the 1968 black is slenderizing comment from Mom. Lynn might be right ...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Creative Inspiration: The Feet Have It

I've been writing this blog for well over a year now, and I'm not sure I've done a single post on clothing -- one of the ways we all demonstrate our creativity. So, today and tomorrow, we're talking fashion.

We'll start with the feet. I am in love with my Cicciabella Cowgirl slippers. What do these slippers have to do with creativity? Everything.

Some brilliant fashion designer took an existing idea -- cowboy boots -- and put a twist on the concept. Why not make them into slippers? A simple question. A warm, fuzzy, fabulous answer.

Take a look around your world. Consider a favorite item -- clothing, cookware, book, whatever. Now, ask yourself: How could you apply the best features of that item to something else?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Creativity Tips: Be Unexpected

During a recent trip to Naples, Florida, my friends and I had a scrumptious meal at Randy's Fishmarket Restaurant. The owner stopped by our table several times, to make sure all eight of us were happy. We were happy.

When he found out most of us were on vacation, soon to head back to the frigid Midwest, he said he had a surprise. A few minutes later, he came back with ice scrapers.

It's an unexpected gift from Florida, and a wonderful creativity lesson: Happy surprises* make for memorable moments. How can you surprise someone this week?

*The quality of the surprise makes a difference too. Having now scraped Kansas City ice off my windows several times, I can tell you Randy's scrapers are as good as his seafood.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Creativity Tips: Forgive Yourself

For someone who loves words as much as I do, it's astonishing how often the wrong words come tumbling out of my mouth. I'll be talking to someone I care about, and suddenly I'm saying something completely off the mark. What I'm hearing isn't what I mean to be saying. At all.

There's no easy way to pull words back. Believe me, I try. And no matter how sincerely I apologize, I generally leave such conversations guilt-ridden.

It's a bad thing. Guilt is a creativity-blocking, time-wasting, energy-sapping emotion. So today, I'm starting with a clean slate -- and so are you. Today, we're not feeling guilty about things in the past, things we can't change.

Here's to a new week, a new world. And new words.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Fun: Two Big Days!

There are few things more fun than learning something new. Here's your word for the day:

Of course, when it's going right, love is fun too. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, two great links from our buddy Leslie. Make your own presidential Valentine, or have a heart!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Creative Inspiration: Love and Loss

I had the pleasure of meeting Tess Gallagher once, when she visited KC. She's a wonderful poet, and the widow of the amazing Raymond Carver. Today, a poem from each of them.

What The Doctor Said
© by Raymond Carver

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

I Stop Writing the Poem
© by Tess Gallagher

to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I'm still a woman.
I'll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I'll get back
to the poem. I'll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there's a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it's done.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Cheap Romance

So, let's say you're a 15-year-old girl, and you want to plan a special Valentine's Day date. BUT, you have no money. Your boyfriend has no money. And your mother is the Wicked Witch of the West* and won't give you money.

What would you do?**

*Oooh. Very good. You know me.

**Mary thanks you in advance for the ideas.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jody!

I just glanced at my calendar and noticed that today is Jody's birthday! Happy birthday, kiddo!

Never miss a chance to celebrate.

Creativity Tips: Edit. Everything. Again.

Here's a quick look behind the scenes at Creative Instigation:
  1. Develop idea for a post.
  2. Write it.
  3. Edit it -- cutting as many words as possible.
  4. Edit again. Cut more.
  5. Proof.
  6. Post.

I have the attention span of a gnat. And I'm not alone. Reread everything you write this week -- from stories to emails -- and cut *words you don't really need.

*Example: I had cut the words you don't really need. I didn't need the in that sentence. It's a little word, but every word you cut makes a difference.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Creativity Tips: Think Before You Write

Remember when mom used to tell you, "Think before you speak!" Well, mom was right. And the same good advice applies to writing. Think first, and you'll have a much greater chance of writing:

... a blizzard of moralizing twaddle and disinformation.

That line, by Terence Corcoran, is one of several fantastic phrases in this article. It makes me happy. Every word is perfect, every word communicates. Corcoran isn't using words we don't know -- but he is using them in a thoughtful, magical new way.

This week, let's think before we write.

P.S. Thanks to Barb for the link! And for this idea: When you find great writing, send it to me and I'll post it. Creative inspiration is everywhere.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Fun: Stand By Me

Dear Creative Instigation team:

Thank you for standing by me, and posting comments that encourage me to keep writing the blog. It's good to have friends, including those of you I've never met.

P.S. Thanks to Leslie for the link!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Creativity Tips: Change Your Space

To give your creativity a quick boost, change your creative environment -- without leaving your space or spending a penny.

How? Take a hint from decorating entrepreneur Mary Carol Garrity: Clean off a bookshelf.* Take everything off, dust, then put different items on the shelves -- or rearrange the items you had. Put the poetry on the top shelf. Change the family photos. Use journals as bookends.

Now, stand back and admire your work!

P.S. Please. I can hear you groaning through cyberspace. If you can't imagine cleaning the ENTIRE bookshelf, then just tackle one shelf. Size matters, and one teeny, tiny shelf is a good start.

P.P.S. The photo is a bookshelf from Sigmund Freud's study. Analyze that. Rooms like this make me go into a creative coma. But, we're all different ...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Creativity Tips: Enjoy Six More Weeks of Winter

A couple of days ago, when Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and ran back to the burrow, I felt the cold chill of six unwanted weeks of winter settling in my bones.

The cure? I started knitting a scarf. That's right. I'm knitting again. I haven't touched the needles since I finished Kate's scarf, almost a year ago. And, I have to say, I haven't missed them.

Yet, on Groundhog's Day, I got the knitting urge. And here's the fascinating thing: When I picked up the yarn and the needles, my fingers knew what to do. I had forgotten, but they remembered. I cast on with no trouble, and took off knitting.

Make your next six weeks fly by: Pick up an old creative talent, one you haven't used for a bit. It may be more fun than you remember!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Creativity Tips: Use Your Time Creatively

This past weekend, my sister Eva and I went to Mom's apartment to reorganize her clothes. Mom, who is 87, is amazing -- something it's easy for us to forget while we're cleaning closets.

While we were there, a woman who used to work at Mom's assisted living complex came to visit. Diana promised Mom that she would come back to visit once a month, and would bring daisies -- Mom's favorite flower.

And here's the amazing part. She's doing it. This wonderful woman -- who has a family of her own and a more-than-full schedule -- shows up on the first Sunday of every month. She spends an hour chatting with Mom. She brings flowers. She brings joy. Mom is thrilled that Diana cares about her, and she takes huge delight in looking at, and bragging about, her flowers.

One hour. Once a month. 12 hours a year. It's a small investment of time with a huge reward for everyone involved.

No matter what our talents are, we can all create more happiness in the world. We can all learn from Diana.

P.S. Thanks to Mike for pointing out that this story was a post! I needed the creative instigation.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My Life Would Suck Without You

The headline of this post is the title of Kelly Clarkson's new song. This song reportedly made history last week with the largest leap ever on the singles chart -- zooming from No. 97 to No. 1.

That's right, "My Life Would Suck Without You" went to No. 1.

Now, I hate to start the week with a rant, but seriously -- this is the best we can do? Where have you gone, Simon and Garfunkel?

P.S. Kelly Clarkson. Don't know her. Don't like her.