Monday, January 28, 2013

Creativity Tips: Single-task

You know the old trick where you rub your belly and pat your head at the same time? Or the trick where you rotate your wrists in one direction and your ankles in the opposite direction at the same time? Or the trick where ... well ... there must be another trick like that.

Hmmmm. Yeah. Well, it doesn't matter. Here's the point: I'm not good at any of that stuff.*

And that's why there weren't any CI posts last week and they'll be sporadic for the next few weeks. I'm really, really, really busy. It's good. As Helen Hayes once said, If you rest, you rust. I don't intend to rust. I also don't intend to fry the precious brain cells I have left, so I'm minimizing my multi-tasking.

Now, stay tuned, because I have lots to talk and write about! You do too, don't you? So, why are you here? Go! Talk! Write!

*I can, however, continuing typing copy while talking to someone about a different topic. It's very annoying to whoever I'm talking to, so I don't do it for long. Focus, people. It's all about focus.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Fun: Tina Fey & Amy Poehler

Did you watch the Golden Globes last weekend? To kick the show off, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did one of the funniest segments I've seen in a long time. If you haven't seen it, look here.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fabulous Phrases: Christina Rossetti

Here's a gorgeous line from poet Christina Rossetti:

And in his heart
my heart is locked,
and in his life,
my life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creativity Tips: Just Edit

I just realized that I use the word just in just about every sentence I write. It's the written equivalent of a bad speech pattern.* It's also an indication that I'm stressed and feel the need to minimize whatever suggestion I am making:
This is just an idea ...
The attached is just a concept ...
Just let me know if you want edits ...

Fortunately, I can rewrite:
If this idea isn't what you had in mind, please let me know -- I have others!
I believe the attached concepts are strong ...
Please let me know if any edits are needed.

Take a good look at what you're writing. Are any bad habits sneaking in? Just edit.

*During my early days as a radio talk-show host, I used to say "OK" before every question. Before the interview aired, I would take a razor and edit the tape. Yes. Razor. Tape. I'm old but wise.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Creativity Tips: Define the Knock

Eric Morgenstern, one of the most widely and deservedly admired communicators in KC, had an interesting response to yesterday's post:

When there's a knock on your door, the key is to determine is it "opportunity" or an "interruption." If you listen closely, you can usually tell.  

Now, for someone like me -- easily distracted by shiny objects -- this is a critical point. It also reminded me of great advice I received years ago. I had moved into a management position, and was complaining (hard to believe) about all the interruptions. People were continually knocking on my door. My boss told me, "When you're in management, those 'interruptions' are part of the job. Stop thinking of them as 'interruptions.'"

With that perspective, I "heard" the knocks in a different way. Some were interruptions -- we didn't really need to discuss the weather. Others were truly part of the job. Either people needed input or answers, or they simply had to share something -- personal or professional -- before they could focus on the work at hand.

So, listen closely to the knocks. Define them accurately. Perspective makes the difference!

Shiny object alert: When my grandmother used to say, "Knock on wood," she would knock on her head.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Creativity Tips: Listen Closely

Shhhhhhh. Do you hear it? No?

Hmmmmm. OK. Take a deep breath. Silence all that crazy racket in your brain. Now, listen again. Do you hear it now? That very soft knocking sound?

Yep. It's opportunity. Open the door.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Fun: No! No! Not the Scottie!

My brother and sister and I used to fight over who got what token.
Is nothing sacred? Hasbro is going to change its Monopoly tokens. Fans are voting now on which token to "send directly to jail" and which new token will take the reject's place.

So, for fun, you can check out the Monopoly Facebook page and vote. Or, while you're running errands this weekend, let your mind wander and mentally design your own Monopoly token.

Need inspiration? Go back to the beginning. Look at a charm bracelet.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Creativity Exercise: Get Ripped

Ah, you're thinking from that headline that I'm finally going to share the words of wisdom gained from my days exercising with Shanna Haun. Good guess, but no. This Get Ripped is an exercise for your creative muscles. Look at this awesome menorah my mom created with torn paper:
Now, keep in mind: Mom is 91 and nearly blind. She also doesn't consider herself an artist. We disagree on this assessment. Anyhoo, look at the art she created and let your mind wander. What could you make with ripped paper? You have your idea? Cool! Don't just sit there -- start ripping!

P.S. Mom did this with the assistance of an art teacher. I would thank the teacher, but I don't know her name. So, thank you to all inspirational art teachers everywhere!

P.P.S. Yes, I will eventually do the exercise-related creativity tips. They will be brilliant. Trust me on this.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Creativity Exercise: Biltmore Wines

Are you missing Christmas already? No worries, mate. Take all your held-over holiday ideas and design the 2013 holiday label for Biltmore Wines. If you win the contest, all you have to do is buy me a bottle of their bubbly. Which I will use to happily toast your creative brilliance!


(Did I just link Christmas and Fiddler on the Roof? Yes. Yes, I did. Welcome to my world.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Creativity Tips: Embrace Structure

Back when I was in school, professors would periodically assign long papers, complete with outlines. My classmates and I had to turn in our outlines first. Unfortunately, my brain doesn't think in outlines.

I handled it the only way I could: backwards. I'd write the entire paper first, then go back and create the outline. On the bright side, I always finished those papers early. No outline due? Cool. I wrote those papers the night before they were due. My brain does think in deadlines.*

Over the years, I've learned to embrace the concept of structure. The trick is finding a structure that resonates. For example, when I wrote Creative Chai, the structure of the 18 ideas kept me focused. Numbers, whether they're clock deadlines or chapter headlines, work for me.

What structure works for you? If you have a 2013 resolution, did you build a structure into the plan?

If you're not sure where to start, consider a pre-existing structure. For example, Kate is taking and posting a photo every day, as part of a Project 365 adventure.

Let structure be the bones of your creative endeavor. Now build!

*Note to Mary: If you are reading this, do not consider your mother a good example. I was a slacker. You can do better.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Creativity Tips: Get Excited

For many of my friends, today is the first day back at work after the holidays. I know this because I've heard far too many comments like this:
"Blech. I have to go back to work on Monday."

So, listen up. I realize I'm a lucky woman to be excited re: my day-to-day writing work. And, I realize that many of you head off each morning to work you don't love. You have talents, you have dreams, but you also have a mortgage. I get it.

Here's the good news: Even if your job isn't inspirational, your possibilities are. What would get you excited? A walk on a new path in the cold, clean, winter air? A long talk with an old friend? A hunting expedition through an antique store?

If the 9-to-5 doesn't give you a reason to rev your engines, build something else into the agenda. The year is new and fresh and it's all yours. Get excited!

P.S. "Blech" isn't an exact quote, but I'm trying to keep this post G-rated.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Creativity Tips: Keep that Blank Sheet Handy

Want proof that my periodic nag about keeping paper and pen close at hand is important? Check out this tidbit from the Jan. 3, 2013, edition of The Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien (books by this author), born in Bloemfontein, South Africa (1892). He studied classics, language, and literature at Oxford. In 1925, Tolkien returned to Oxford University as a professor. One day, while grading exams, he discovered that a student had left one whole page in his examination booklet blank. Tolkien, for reasons unknown even to him, wrote on the page, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." This single line turned into a bedtime story that he told his children, and from there, a book: The Hobbit (1937).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Creativity Tips: Be True to You

You know what I did during the holiday break? For creative fun, I made a collage box for Lynn, mybestfriendintheworldsincefourthgrade. And I got a good start on a Valentine collage.

I love collage art. It's fun. It's not paying the bills, but it makes me happy -- and, so far, the recipients of my artwork have either been very pleased or very good fakers. Either way works for me.*

This year, find the creative outlet that gives you joy and pursue it. Be true to you!

*I talk about faking it and your mind goes right to the gutter, doesn't it? Sigh. What am I going to do with you?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Creativity Exercise: Signed, Sealed and Delivered

Yay! New year! I love fresh starts. And have I got a deal for you ...

Write yourself a letter re: one thing you'd like to accomplish this year. Seal it in an envelope. Address the envelope to yourself and put a stamp on it. Then, put, that envelope in a bigger envelope and mail it to me.

I'll put your still-sealed letter in the mail back to you on my birthday in April. That way, you can see how you're doing on the objective -- while you still have plenty of time to adjust, change, ignore, whatever.

You'll find my address here. Happy writing!

P.S. My brother turns 60 today. Someone needs to tell me how that is freakin' possible. Because I'm still 30-something. (Happy birthday, Harry!)