Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Creativity Tips: Make a Wish

Holiday time! Creative Instigation will be back Jan. 4, unless inspiration hits before then and I feel the need to post. If you want email notification of new posts, there's an easy "subscribe by email" link on the right. For now ...

I wish you time to truly enjoy
People you love
Places that make your heart happy
Good books, good movies, good art
Friends who make you laugh
Food that reminds you of home
Moments of pure silence
The joy of just being

You are a creative wonder, and I thank you for being part of the CI team. See you in 2010!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Creative Query: Gifts

If you could give yourself one gift, what would it be? It can be magical, mercenary, mythical ... whatever makes you happy.

I'd like a camera that takes pictures of the past, so I could have snapshots now of everything I didn't take photos of then.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Creativity Tips: Examine This!

We're going to start the week with a team update: Our group of amazingly talented people is doing incredibly wonderful things.

Angela has a new creative adventure: She recently started writing articles on baking for Very fun stuff! Check it out.

Leslie is almost finished with her gorgeous Year in Pictures project and she's looking for big ideas for that final photo. That's our creativity exercise this week: Post photo-finish ideas here or on Leslie's blog.

Joe and Michele aren't stopping with publication of a book. Nope. Now they're recreating Harzfeld's Petticoat Lane perfume. (The book is wonderful, fyi! And I know the perfume will be too.)

If you're a regular reader and want to share a creative accomplishment, just let me know!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Random Friday

Got up this morning and found great links from Leslie (thank you!), the perfect holiday photo and remembered it's Vanessa's birthday (Happy Birthday!!!)

Links from Leslie:
Cool Hanukkah post
Wonderful holiday moments

And here's what I'm doing today: Breathing. My sister is in town and I don't have to run out the door to a client's office. Yep. I can feel the brain cells coming back.

I hope you take time this weekend to simply relax. Sip something warm. Eat something sweet. Appreciate how lucky we are. It's good to take a moment out of the holiday craziness to just feel happy.

Friday Fun: Origami Wrapping

I'm writing this on Thursday night. I still need to decorate the Christmas tree and light the Hanukkah menorah. Try not to think about it too hard.

Instead, get out your paper squares and dazzle someone!

(Quick poll: Are you done with your holiday shopping? Post a yes, no or just walk away laughing hysterically.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Creativity Exercise: That's a Wrap!

For today's exercise, wrap a present in something other than gift-wrapping paper. Here's how it works: I'll get you started with a few ideas, then you give me more, bigger, better ideas! And you give your loved ones a gift they'll enjoy before they even open it.
  1. Wrap a funny gift in comics.

  2. Wrap a robe or pajamas or slippers in a pillow case. You could start with a cheap white pillow case and doodle all over it. Or, buy a really fancy shmancy pillow case, and then the wrapping is part of the gift.

  3. Wrap tickets to a musical in the CD case with the music. Does that make sense?* For example, buy tickets to Wicked. Buy the Wicked CD. Wrap the tickets inside the CD case.

    *When you're not sure your writing makes sense, trust me: It doesn't make sense. Rewrite it. I would, but then I couldn't use myself as a bad example ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Creativity Tips: Share

My latest poem. The workshop liked it a lot, so I'm sharing* it with you:

I loved a man who cheated

I can see him as a child, kicking a can,
thinking of nothing but the connection,
satisfaction of shoe on tin.

Together, apart.
Together, apart.
The irresistible skittering.

I can see him then, each careful kick,
moving the can five feet, ten,
keeping it in easy reach.

Dancing a tin ballet for boy
while another girl waits on the stoop
at her house down the street.

©2009 Sokoloff Harness Communications LLC

*Gotta tell you: Sharing poetry is scary for me. But it's good to scare yourself now and then.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Creative Query: New Year's Resolutions

Have you ever kept a New Year's resolution? If so, what was it? If not, do you still make them? Why?

OK, that's more than one creative query. Never get an old* reporter started ...

*I've been told to never call myself an old reporter. Former reporter, possibly. Some have even suggested recovering reporter. Never old. Whatever. As Popeye would say, "I yam what I yam."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Creativity Tips: Believe in Your Own Magic

My buddy Linden brought his dad Chris and brother Clarkson over to the house this weekend. Our time together reminded me that a preschooler is the best creativity boost on the planet. Here are a few lessons from Linden:
  • If the rules of the game aren't working for you, change the rules.
  • When you win, celebrate. When someone else wins, celebrate.
  • Be honest. If you don't like the latke, don't eat it.
  • Push the limits. How else will you know where they are?
  • Believe in your own magic.
  • Laugh out loud. Sing even louder.
I'll leave you with one final Lindenism. As they were leaving, Chris reminded Linden to say "thank you" to Miss Jan.

"Thank you," Linden said.
"Thank you for what?" Chris prompted.
"Thank you for you!"

Thank you for you. Happy Monday. Go play.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Fun: Happy Hanukkah!

Back in the day, when I was in radio, I had to listen to Christmas music for about a month. Non-stop Christmas music. Day in, day out. Hour after painful hour.

Before that, I always enjoyed Christmas music. And I've been out of radio long enough now that I can listen to it without wincing. But if I never hear Jose Feliciano again, I'll be real good with that.

In the spirit of the holidays, and tonight's start of Hanukkah, here's my Friday Fun gift to you: Sen. Orrin Hatch's new Hanukkah song. (Don't think about it. Just enjoy it.)

If you prefer the Jewish version, enjoy Light One Candle, one of my holiday favorites.

Party on!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Creativity Tips: Recognize the Rat

Every year, I have my daughter Mary address holiday cards so they're ready to go in the mail the day after Thanksgiving.

This year, I'm running so fast in so many directions, I forgot. I have the cards; they're lovely. But I don't want to send them now. Why?

Because I'm not the first to get my holiday cards in the mail.

Yes. That's right. I have turned seasonal greetings of love and joy, friendship and good wishes, into a competition. I turn everything into a competition. It's not good. It's bad. Real bad.

It's also possible I'm not the only one on the CI team doing this. I'm guessing, of course. But I can hear you laughing through the computer screen -- and I don't think you're laughing at me.

We need to recognize how this became a rat race, folks. And then we need to do something about it. I, for one, am ready to stop being the rat.

After all, as Mary Schmich said in one of my favorite essays: The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Good Ads: Sexy Forever

People magazine has a special issue out called Sexy Forever. It's cover-to-cover skinny stars, who lost all their pregnancy weight in five minutes. Since the editors understand their audience, the magazine even highlights stars who still look sexy even though they are -- gasp! -- in their 40s.

In the midst of all these scary skinny people, the ad above. And all I can say to New York, New York and its creative team is: Thank you. From all us sexy, laugh-out-loud, nickel-playing gamblers.*

*You know who you are, Eva.

(OK, the headline for the post is going to bring some new visitors. If you stopped by for juicy stuff, sorry. Wrong blog. Bye bye.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Creativity Tips: Laugh at Yourself

This is my favorite holiday card of all time. Patty sent it to me years ago and I framed it.

Why is this a creativity tip? Because laughter sparks creative synapses in the very molecular structure of your beautiful brain. I'm sure this is a scientific fact. After all, I used big words and said it with authority. What other proof do you need?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Creativity Tips: Invictus

I was reading an article about Invictus, the Nelson Mandela movie that comes out Friday. It reminded me of the time I spent with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, years ago, when he visited the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

I had the pleasure of driving Tutu and his wife while they were here. You know what he wanted to talk about as we drove? Me. He was full of questions about my life -- how I balanced work and family, things like that.

He's a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a hero, and has an awe-inspiring aura. He literally glows. Yet he made me feel like I was special. After the visit, he even sent a "thank you" postcard -- it's one of my most-prized possessions.

Today, ask someone a question that matters. Then, listen to the answer. Now there's a holiday gift!

P.S. I'm done with the Chronicle thing. I just need to bite the bullet and actually write the book proposal. Sigh. You know, follow the process. I do so dislike following the process ...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Fun: Bus Stops

When is a bus stop more than a bus stop? Check these out! Thanks to Leslie for the link -- and here's to a great weekend for all of us!

P.S. for those of you who've asked about Amber: She's doing so great! Gaining weight, gaining strength and just went through another round of chemo. She's a trooper.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Creativity Exercise: How Did This Happen?

Next week, my writers group will get together to share poems and I've got nada. Nothing. Zip. Haven't written a poem in 10,000 years. I come up with killer titles and great first lines. Then, I'm stuck. On the bright side, you can help me! Why would you do this? Because you are good and kind souls and creative teams stick together.

One such poem-in-process is titled (and that is not entitled, no matter how many times you see the word used that way) Sooner or Later. This is the start:

Sooner or later
you ask yourself, "How did this happen?"

Promising start. What would you write next?

P.S. Chronicle Books does publish poetry. Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree, trying to get them to publish a version of Creative Instigation. Maybe I should gather poems from my writing buds and send in a collection ...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Creativity Tips: Watch the Traffic

I just love the Quick Quote this week: Watch the traffic. The light will never hit you. Moms Mabley got that right.

Today, consider what's getting most of your attention. If necessary, refocus.

I'll give you an example: I've been focusing too much attention on everything my 16-year-old does that annoys me. I need to remember the classic parenting advice and catch her being good.

That sound you hear is me, shifting gears.

P.S. to Chronicle Books. Yes, I can gear creativity tips to parenting. Or love. Or work. If there's an area you're especially interested in, let's talk.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Creativity Tips: The Power of Persistence

It's December! Unbelievable. As the poster says, "Time flies, whether you're having fun or not."

I'm having fun checking out Leslie's 2009: A Year in Pictures project. If you haven't seen her daily photographic journal lately, take a look. While Leslie's eye is amazing, this is also a gorgeous example of the power of persistence in creativity -- because talent alone isn't enough.

Calvin Coolidge said it beautifully:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

P.S. to Chronicle Books: Leslie took the pics in my free e-book. If you ask me, I will send you a copy. Yes I will. And this will give you an idea of what we could do together on a bigger project.