Monday, April 09, 2007
Many people watching a writer at work probably wouldn't even realize that he or she was actually working. While the physical act of putting words on paper or into a computer is easy to recognize as "work" one of the hardest parts of any writer's task is not always coming up with the words to express an idea. For many of us, the most difficult part is coming up with an idea to write about!
While creativity is generally believed to be something that someone is born with, and maybe it is, everybody has some sort of creative streak within...no matter how well hidden. The trick is to find ways to tickle that creativity so that it produces at least the germ of an idea. Once many writers, and other artists, have that germ of an idea, the article, or statue, or poem, or painting will almost produce itself.
Below are 4 tips on how to wake up the sleeping giant of creativity within and put it to work.
1. Yoga and Meditation - Alternative Routes to Creativity
Most people want to attack a problem head on. For the artist or writer, however, that approach often just creates another problem. Do the words, "writer's block" mean anything to you? Hmmm? It seems that the harder we try to attack the creativity problem the harder and thicker the wall becomes between the conscious mind and the ideas that may be lurking just on the other side.
Yoga, meditation, long walks and other such physically relaxing and sometimes demanding activities actually tend to dissolve the barriers and allow us to access the ideas that have been hiding behind them. To express it another way, think of ideas becoming frightened and curling up like porcupines when they know we are looking for them. When we appear to be ignoring them, they uncurl and expose themselves to our subconscious which in turn puts them on a fast elevator up to the conscious mind where they seem to appear out of nowhere.
2. Creativity Is Your Job - So Show Up For Work
Back in school, we were given study tips that often included this one; study at the same time and in the same place. That sounds a little like "showing up for work". Freelance writers in particular often fall prey to not having a place to go to and a time to be there. Obviously, if the idea comes at half past midnight, in the middle of your morning shower, or while having sex, that's when you should get it down. Okay, delay that last one a little bit.
On the whole, however, to produce a somewhat steady stream of creativity, not to mention the output which should result there from, it is important to prepare an "office", even if it is a table on your patio. That's where you show up and expect your creative muse to meet you. Dock its pay if it is late.
3. Ideas Are Everywhere - Be Prepared For Them
In this crazy business of writing, or painting, or sculpting, ideas are all around. The trick is to catch them and keep them. The chance comment of a friend, a sound bite on a TV news show, an obituary, the neighbor's new car, the local high school football team, your spouse's opinion on the TV sound bite, a paragraph in a chapter in a second hand book you bought for $2.99. These can all hold the germ of the idea that later becomes the article, the poem, the short story, or the book.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that once you catch on to this, you will find yourself with more ideas than you can remember or develop at any given moment. That's why you want to have a notebook, diary, or journal to jot down the basic idea and a quick development if that's available. You might also want to invest in a small recorder so that you can dictate ideas while driving or at other times that writing might be difficult. This is a great suggestion if you have ever awoken with a great idea in the middle of the night and found that you have completely forgotten it when you wake up in the morning.
4. Your Brain Is Already Full Of Ideas - Put Your Built-In Search Engine To Work
Your subconscious is a brown-noser. It just can't wait to show you what it's done for you while you were sleeping or busy with another problem. As you lay in bed at night waiting to fall asleep, tell it forcefully and directly to come up with some ideas while you're asleep. This is not 100% perfect, but it will produce fruit from time to time. Unfortunately, the ideas often appear in the middle of the night (see tip #3) although you will often awaken with a great idea.
By the way. Have you ever heard about great discoveries being made while people sleep? Many of these stories are true.
It often happens that concentrating on a problem and then letting go of it to work on other things often produces the same effect as "sleeping on it". More than one cognitive flash has come about after the thinker let go of the problem. During sleep, your brain is at work replenishing neurotransmitters that organize neural networks essential to remembering, learning, performance and problem solving, and this activity includes tracking down and organizing seemingly random pieces of data into ideas!
There you are! Four tips just like I promised.
Oh! Where did I get the idea for this article?
Well, I was reading some notes I had made about a year ago, and....
Donovan Baldwin is a Texas writer and a University of West Florida alumnus. He is a member of Mensa and is retired from the U. S. Army after 21 years of service. In his career, he has held many managerial and supervisory positions. However, his main pleasures have long been writing, nature, and fitness. In the last few years, he has been able to combine these pleasures by writing poetry and articles on subjects such as yoga, writing, nature, animals, the environment, global warming, happiness, self improvement, health, fitness, and weight loss. He has collected several of his articles on health and weight loss at http://nodiet4me.com/articledirectory/ .
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