seven ‘takes’ to spark your creativity

Creativity is a funny old thing.  Some days we feel completely inspired, and the ideas just seem to flow out of us. And yet at other times we find ourselves in an ideas drought, or a creative rut.

Often we require creativity for a job or a project, and we can’t just wait until we happen to be in a ‘creative mood’. We need to look for ways to help the creative ideas to flow.

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Below are 7 ‘takes’ that I find helpful to increase and tap into creativity.

1) Take a shower

There is scientific evidence to prove that taking a shower activates and triggers creativity. I won’t go into that now. But that has certainly been my experience. I try to quickly record all the ideas that have flowed in those few minutes in the shower.

2) Take a run

Up until about two years ago it would have been unforeseeable for me to even be suggesting this. I started running at a particularly challenging time in our life, initially as a valve to let out frustration. However, once I got past the I’m-so-unfit-I-can-literally-only-focus-on breathing-right-now phase I started to notice that ideas and thoughts would spring into my mind as I was running along. I would either quickly record ideas on my phone voice recorder, or if I was too out of breath I would write them down the second I got home.

3) Take a risk

Creativity often stems out of a break from the norm. Take a risk. Try something new. Do something that scares you. Do a skydive, join a club of some sort, give a talk on something. The new/scary experience will teach you something about yourself or something about others which will bring food for thought and release creativity.

4) Take a power nap

Taking a power nap boosts brain performance. It’s a scientific fact. Apparently. When possible, a 15 minute power nap does wonders for me. Any longer than that and I start to feel groggy, and it affects my nighttime sleep. But a short nap helps me to think more clearly, more positively, and more creatively.

5) Take a book

Reading gives us ideas. I like to read a mix of fiction and non-ficton. I like non-fiction for learning new concepts and theories about a variety of things, and I like fiction because it transports me into a whole other world. I instantly feel more creative after reading. Reading is a non-negotiable fo those of us who express their creativity through writing, If you’re a writer, you have to be a reader. You can’t be the former without being the latter.

6) Take a social media break

Step away from social media periodically. Allow yourself to get bored… remember those days when you were sitting in an airport, or a train station and you didn’t have a phone to amuse yourself? I have a distant recollection of those days, and I vaguely recall that in those times my boredom would invariably result in people-watching; I would imagine what conversations people were having with each other as I examined their facial expressions. I would observe all that was going on around me, taking in the sights, smells and sounds of my surroundings. Observation is a great tool for creativity. Social media far too easily keeps boredom at bay. When our heads are in our phones we often don’t break through the boredom threshold and come out the other side.  I like to have times in the week when I put aside social media and see where the ‘boredom’ takes me.

7) Take a notepad

You may have noticed in the above points how frequently I’ve referred to writing stuff down, or recording ideas. Sometimes creative ideas pop out of nowhere and we need to be ready to record them. I’ve had countless times where I’ve thought of a great idea for a blog post, and at the time it seemed so great that I reasoned I couldn’t possibly forget it. Experience tells me, however, that ideas do get forgotten if they’re not recorded. Write them down. Straight away. As soon as you get them. In a notepad, on an email, on whatever. Just make a note of them.

What would you add to the list? What sparks your creativity?

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Where I return to my Blue Peter roots

When I was a kid one of my favourite games I’d play with my big sister was pretending to be a Blue Peter presenter. This would particularly take place when we were baking. We’d measure all the ingredients carefully out into individual bowls before “filming” commenced (clearly this was before the era of home video cameras so I use the word “filming” in the loosest possible term). So, when everything was measured out we’d start talking the “audience” through the method of making cakes or buns whilst seamlessly emptying the pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl. It was the perfect activity. Really, it was.

Actually I hate cooking now, so perhaps the appeal was more about being a Blue Peter presenter than the cooking itself. My sister continued in her love of cooking. In fact, if you haven’t checked out her recipe blog I’d recommend you do so here She regularly cooks for large numbers of people (30 plus) so they’re all recipes that are simple, tasty and can be done in a slow-cooker.

Anyhow, that was a bit of a long-winded introduction of saying that today I’m returning back to my Blue Peter roots and sharing with you a few little craft activities I’ve been up to.

So… here’s one I made earlier. 

We’ve been wanting to personalise the office for a little while so whilst things are a little quieter over the summer I’ve set to work.

I wanted to go for a bit of a European theme to reflect all the countries we love and work with. So I started decorating some regular wooden pegs with some world map Washi tape.

Washi-tape is a new discovery for me. But I can see that now I’ve discovered it, I’m going to have to find some different uses for it around the home. It would be rude not to.

 

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These pegs will be used to hang some little poloroid-style prints of the team onto some wire.

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After going to a Decopatch party with Esther a few months ago I realised how much I like that style so we’ll also be decopatching  letters to hang on the office wall with various “european-themed” papers.

 

And here’s the finished result:

 

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I’m looking forward to sprucing up the office with all of this!

on “guilt-free” creativity…

This weekend my creative soul emerged from hibernation. I tinkered with my camera and took some fun shots. I enjoyed scouring though photography blogs, surfing my way through pinterest and picking up ideas. And I spent some time thinking though a few creative projects for the home.

It was a lot of fun. 

 

I felt like a small part of me was restored, and re-awakened. Amidst busy schedules, small children, visitors in and out of the home, I’d got stuck on a treadmill of monotony. Engaging in creativity, or even just admiring creativity in others, brings me alive. And I’d forgotten that.

But even more significantly there was a missing emotion for me after wiling away my hours in creativity. Guilt.  Creativity often feels like a luxury, something that could always be replaced by a more important task or relationship.

Subconsciously I’ve always seen creativity as something that replaces something else, something more important. If I’m being creative,  then I’m not spending time with God. And that’s always more important.  Seeing this written in black & white, I see both the absurdity and intensity of the lie. And though I like to think I don’t separate into “secular” and “sacred”, I clearly do to some degree.

When I look back at that weekend of creativity, as I sat in the stillness, whilst kids played happily in their rooms, I was just enjoying my own thoughts and interjections from God as he spoke to me in and through what I was doing. A life lived with Jesus doesn’t need to be about kneeling by my bed in prayer. Which is a good job as you won’t often find me there.

No wonder I’ve never fully enjoyed being creative; there’s been too much guilt entangled in it all.  I’d removed “the essence of faith from the particulars of daily human life and relocated it in special times, places, and states of mind”*

Our God is a creative God. He creates. He is the Creator. He loves creation, and I think He loves it when I’m being creative. He is with me as much in the creative and the mundane moments as He is in a “prayer meeting”.

I guess the crux of it is this: Does my whole life give glory to God? I’ve been trying to approach each day much more from this perspective, choosing to see life as a whole rather than in two camps.

Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.

Tozer, The pursuit of God

 

 

 

* Dallas Willard,  The Spirit of the Disciplines