create with me

My husband’s CEO was reading the Sunday paper when he found a generous article written about my happiness projects. The CEO sent the article around the office as a kind gesture to my husband.

A couple days later, the Director of Marketing asked me to speak to her team about community involvement. The leap between my silly projects and marketing seemed vast, but I agreed to chat when she promised coffee and donuts.

Y’all, I was nervous. The nerves started pop-pop-popping up when I realized I didn’t own business attire or understand how I could help push a corporate agenda forward. Would I waste their time entirely? Should I cancel? I silenced my worries, grabbed a flowery top, and followed my husband to work.
The meeting felt like a conversation between friends: I talked about my background in art and social work, and then they asked for tips on connecting with the community. The hour flew by and closing remarks soon replaced the daunting questions. Success – I was feeling pretty good about my first stint in corporate America.

And then.

The marketing director asked me to conclude by discussing ways to increase creativity. I’m usually garrulous and quick, but this question brought great pause and then silence and finally a look of confusion. She noticed my discomfort and elaborated further, “Just tell us where you get ideas from.”

Where do I get ideas from? Goodness gracious, her attempt to save me from a potentially awkward situation only heighted my confusion, and I said the first thing that came to mind: “I seek inspiration everywhere.”

The group clapped and I drove home wondering why why why did I answer the question like that? It’s true that I’m always seeking inspiration, but the question to ‘how am I creative’ is so much more complicated than that. Creativity oftentimes seems like a messenger that stops by with an idea or two or three. Other times, however, I’m wondering if that inspiring messenger will ever choose to visit me again.  Does my creative messenger have a phone number? An email? How do I get in touch with him?

And so, I got to the serious business of thinking about creativity and its causes. I hope my thoughts will inspire a dialogue that generates lots of ideas for finding inspiration. Will you help me?
Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. Never wait till your ready. If you want to do something, go for it, and figure out the details as you go. Some of my best ideas come from making mistakes, thinking about how to do better, and then setting forth for a 2nd or 3rd or, to be honest, 7th try.
  2. Open your heart and your mind to new experiences, people and ideas. It’s when we are exposed to difference and novelty that we can compare and contrast and grow and consider. Make a new friend, try a new coffee shop, take a trip.
  3. As life changes this means evaluating new situations, accepting new things into your life and letting others go. This way we can develop our best ideas and devote time to the projects that inspire us the most.
  4. Challenge yourself, but try not to get in ‘over your head’ – somewhere between hard and easy we find our sweet spot. With any luck, working in that ‘sweet spot’ will inspire creativity and, best of all, flow.
  5. Journal is out, write it down, and type it quick. I’ve always got a pen&pad in my pocket because I never know when inspiration will strike. Some of my best ideas come while sitting in church or driving in the car or taking a hike.
  6. Give all ideas equal weight. You know the feeling of thinking an idea is great until you a) think about it further b) start to write about it or c) try to explain it to someone else? It’s not that the idea isn’t any good, but perhaps you need to think about it differently. What do you not like about it? Could you change the project/idea/plan so that it works a little better?
  7. Live an inspired life. I tell myself to write the book I want to read and paint the picture I want to see and bake the cake I want to eat. I’m not always accomplishing these lofty goals, but it gives me a high bar and encourages me to keep trying.
  8. Be the solution. Ah, okay, it’s really not as lofty as all that, but when I hear complaints, I start jotting down possible solutions. My ‘ideas’ might not be any good, but it usually inspires some suggestions for creatively solving problems.
  9. Get emotional. I try to let my feelings guide me on creative projects. If I feel passionately about an idea or project or person, I think about the reasons I’m ignited, and then I try to express myself with words or art or other creative outlets.
  10. Take your mind off the task at hand. For me, consciously trying to generate ideas oftentimes leads to voids and blanks and daydreams. It’s when I’m doing something else – running or cleaning or showering – that the ideas seem to fizzle and pop and appear from some mysterious place.
  11. Have a heart to heart. A good conversation is one of my favorite ways to connect with others, and it’s also a pretty solid way to inspire creativity. When I discuss plans and dreams and hopes, my friends usually inquire and prod and relate, and I’m usually inspired by the twists and turns the conversation takes.
  12. Eavesdrop. If your own thoughts and conversations aren’t inspiring enough, you can always keep listen to the person next to you :)That top photo is from my spring photo challenge, and the 12 creativity ideas clip art is from The Ink Nest.

28 thoughts on “create with me

  1. Congrats on the fun opportunity! I love this. To go along with #10 — exercise, take the dog to the dog park, be outside in general.
    #13 – do something with someone else that THEY love
    #14 – collaborate with others on a project that seems a little out of your comfort zone.

  2. Wow… That is such a hard question: where does your creativity come from? I love the list you put together! Good post! And congratulations on doing something out of your comfort zone and going to the business meeting!

  3. Loveeeee all of these. And believe it or not, I love your answer too! It is the truth… opening your heart to be inspired by everything around you is wonderful! What a great list!

  4. This is so exciting, I am proud of you for going through with the chat despite feeling nervous. I would have been nervous too, but you have so much to offer!

  5. Oh this is a great list! I find that I feel more creative when I allow myself to be curious. I watch a lot of Curious George with my kids, so I guess George has become quite an inspiration for me 🙂 I often have a one track mind, so I have to remind myself many times throughout the day to enjoy each experience and to pay closer attention to the learning aspect of what I am doing. When I allow myself to be curious and take my time, I discover things I would normally not have noticed or paid much attention to.

  6. Sounds like your husband’s CEO is a pretty cool guy. What a great opportunity! I definitely agree with you about having a conversation. I often talk to Jordan about my blog posts or let him read them once they’re written. He doesn’t offer much feedback (I like to think it’s because I’m so brilliant) but what he does have to say is always helpful, if just to get another person’s insight.

  7. Eavesdropping is one of my favorite secret weapons of inspiration. I, too, would have a hard time exactly answering where I get ideas of what I write. Mostly just from keeping my eyes open–but I also thinks it helps to have a “let’s try something new!” attitude to life. Because of that attitude, this weekend…I made strawberry pies for the first time ever…randomly on a Saturday night…I took outfit pictures in a never-before-tried location that I’ll be blogging about next week…just random little stuff like that, but it makes for memorable days and adventures worth writing about!

  8. Although this is certainly not a ubiquitous claim, having my feet firmly planted in the world of corporate America helps me to realize something. We get dressed up in our business attire, and when you do it’s like a switch is flipped where you enter a world, a game of sorts where you follow a set of rules, engage in a set of behaviors, and sometimes become someone who we aren’t.

    If we could all learn to truly embrace the creative spirit that you brought into that meeting, I think that corporate America would evolve into something much more magnificent. Some companies have done it, but not all. If we are given permission to be ourselves while still following a core set of “rules”, I believe that creativity would ensue. It’s in the artificial manner of looking for creativity that we actually stifle it. It can’t be forced, it needs to be courted, invited into our life without commanding it.

    Your twelve suggestions are awesome. I especially like the eavesdropping. There are so many times that I have overheard something and it has started the gears turning in my mind. Wonderful post, as always. And if you happen to run across a phone number for creativity, we wouldn’t mind if you share it with us all 😉

  9. I love this post. #1 is so true for me…although I tend to do better when the pressure is on, so I’m a procrastinator by nature. However, it’s so true that you can’t always wait for inspiration, sometimes you have to push through the non-inspired moments and just move through your mistakes.

  10. I always find creativity when I’m painting. I will have these deep ideas that I can’t wait to put into action once I get through with the project I’m working on, but when I sit down to put it into words or take action, the creative thoughts are gone and I can’t make them make the same sense they did in my head while I was working. Typical! I think it’s awesome that you’re getting recognized for your happiness projects. I really want to start doing some here in KC!

  11. Congratulations on being able to share with a group about something you love! That’s wonderful and I’m sure everyone appreciated what you shared. Meditation and finding “your” space are definitely ways to help me find my creativity. It’s so much easier to be creative when you’re in your own comfortable space. Great blog!

  12. Going for a run can solve many of my wandering questions. Walking or running in a park is a good way to find inspiration, listening to the wind and the birds. Also, I’m sure that yoga, meditation and sleeping are great 🙂
    Sofie x

  13. These are terrific!! And I think your response was spot on – you obviously do seek (and find!) inspiration everywhere. Because it is there to find! We just have to be brave enough to look and open enough to see it.

    What an awesome growth opportunity to share and have that conversation with a group that you weren’t expecting to meet with.

  14. Girl, I would’ve been so nervous too so I hear you! But good for you for going in anyway and talking to them! I’m sure they appreciated all you had to say!

    Also, I’m with you on getting ideas/being inspired by journaling. I’ll be writing along and all the sudden inspiration strikes! I love this list! I love how often I am inspired by your blog! 🙂

  15. Ah! This is marvelous. First of all, what a fabulous opportunity for you to spread your joyful spirit around the workplace! Amazing! Second, I so needed all of these inspiration ideas! What an awesome list! I’m always feeling inspired after I’ve done some reading. Great writers detailing great stories can be just so dang magical. 🙂

  16. First of all, major fist pump for being awesome! Second of all, I love everything about this. Especially #1 on your list. I am prone to second guessing myself (or triple guessing 🙂 so I have been trying to make a habit to just jump into a new thing. That way I just have to figure it out while I’m in the midst of things. Since my perfectionist tendencies make me cringe when I make “mistakes” I am learning that mistakes are the best part about creating!

  17. Reblogged this on katelinjulia and commented:
    This is very inspiring and real, and I think all creative beings can relate to the 12 ideas. I have also read about similar concepts through my classes. A great reminder to keep around!

  18. I LOVE this so much!! What an exciting opportunity that has come your way! It sounds perfect for you! And I think you more than made up for not having an answer you liked before. This list is fantastic, and so true to me.

  19. Ah could not have said it better myself! I agree with all of them, especially #1. Now is as good a time as any to start on something because we’ll never be ready, so might as well do it now because the final result will always be changing a long the way.


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