Tag Archives: being more creative

3 Tricks for Silencing the Self-Critic

I got my camera remote working yesterday which of course meant I had to play around a bit with some self- portraiture.

To be a bit transparent the result at the left here is about my fourth or fifth attempt. Every previous attempt had something I didn’t like about it, lighting, color, pose… the self-critic was in full effect as I sought to expose him through photographic imagery. (I’m not even sure I like THIS one the best but I had to just shut him down.)

Having just been through the battle against the self-critic I thought I’d share a couple tricks for defeating that nagging voice that stifles creativity and oft times leaves us staring at a blank page.

Trick #1: Dust
I find it incredibly difficult to come up with ANYTHING creative when my office is in a shambles, the state in which it most typically exists. It’s funny how much more easily the ideas start to flow when I have a clean desk. Even funnier that the process only gets better if the floor in front of my desk…which I cannot see when sitting there…is clean as well.

There is something about a well organized environment that frees up the mind to focus on being creative. In case you’re in need of a pithy reminder: Cleaning up your space allows the mind to race.

Trick #2: Doodle
Far too often we get focused on creating the specific outcome we’re after that we get bogged down at the start. Looking for just the right word, or chord, or color combination. One of the best ways I find to give myself a kick start is just to doodle.

Now, to be fair, I am a doodler. Most of my class notes, meeting notes, notebooks are filled with doodles. Doodles don’t take thought, they just take shape.

In this case though I don’t necessarily mean drawing squiggly lines. Doodling could be writing down bits of dime-store-novel-like dialogue. It could be putting on a piece of music and playing along with it. It could mean editing a photograph that has nothing to do with your current project.

Don’t let the critic tell you you’re wasting time doodling…you’re stirring the creative juices. You’re bouncing out of the rut you’re stuck in to get a different run down the path. The creative freedom of expression in doodling loosens up the log jam and get’s you going.

Trick #3: Drink
No, I didn’t pick this one just because it starts with the letter D, and yes, I know some people might find this one mildly offensive, but any college student can tell you that the first thing alcohol consumption does is lower your inhibitions. Guess what the self-critic is? An inhibitor!

There are actually studies that show that consuming a moderate amount of alcohol results in people engaging in more creative problem solving. Somehow loosing the inhibitors loosens the creative juice.

I’m not advocating getting sloshed, just a glass of wine or a good scotch will do the trick. But hey man, it’s science!

Next time you find the assembled self-critics yammering in your ear try these tricks to get them to just BACK OFF!

What other trick would you suggest for silencing self-criticism and getting a creative project moving to the next level?

Think You’re Not Creative? Guess Again…

I enjoy creative endeavors. I draw, paint, sculpt a little and dabble in computer graphic art.

I’m a musician, song writer, photographer, writer, and speaker.

I’ve done radio, television and theater and I’ve even dabbled in stand up comedy a time or two.

I’m the guy that gets the “creative” tag. I’m the guy that is expected to think outside the box. (Truth be told I lost the box years ago.)

More and more regularly I find myself coming across people who say, “I’m just not creative” as though they’re leaving that bit up to me. They always say it with a hint of sadness in their voice as though they WISH they were creative but, it just isn’t their bag.

If you’re one of those people who think you just aren’t creative let me let you in on a little secret…that’s crap. Let me provide three proofs:

Proof 1: The first man
As a Christian I believe man was created by God, in God’s image. When we’re told that in the Bible the only “image” of God we have is that of a creator. If man is created in the image of God then man is created, all of us not just Adam and Eve, to be creators…to be creative.

Proof 2: The foundational job
Pastors tell us, and the Biblical record supports this, that the first thing God gave Adam was a job.

Genesis 2:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

Now we know Adam didn’t have to tend the ground for food, that comes later, he was a vegetarian at this point, he was naked and unashamed so he didn’t have to make clothes,  so what were his jobs again? Decorative gardening, ornamental horticulture is you will, and coming up with creative names for the animals. HIS JOB WAS TO BE CREATIVE!

Proof 3: The forgotten tree
We always remember the tree of the knowledge of good and evil being in the garden. You know, the apple tree? But we too often forget the tree of life was there too. Supposedly eating from the tree of life made it possible for Adam and Eve to LIVE FOREVER. That was why they were kicked to the curb by the way, so they wouldn’t live forever in their post apple eating state.

So in other words…

God created man as a creative being, gave man a creative job, and gave it to him in a place where he was supposed to be forever. That means we’re all BUILT to be creative!!!! If you think you’re not it is only because you’ve forgotten how!!!

I hate the fact that there is a growing trend, in churches and beyond, to refer to a certain select group of people as “creatives” Yes, I know it easier than saying: musicians and artists and writers and painters and, and, and…

But if we call one group the creatives then the other group is the “not creatives”. I really do believe this subtly reinforces the notion in many people that they are not creative.

But if God created all of us to BE creative, and we start to tell one group of folks they’re not, whose message are we spreading there?

What is one creative activity you can engage in today that will produce a tangible result?

 

 

What will make today different?

For those who missed it I’d like to briefly share the history lesson from the 15th:

It is a little known fact that the term “March Madness” is borrowed from the madness that ensued when Julius Caesar was murdered by a group of senators, including his friend Marcus Brutus, (Et tu Brute?) on March 15, 44BC. This is also the reason the tournament starts on the Ides of March, “the day the madness began.”

In another interesting twist, the first time the term “March Madness” was used to describe the spring basketball classic, the tournament had a corporate sponsor: Brute aftershave.

Feel free to amaze the entire bar with your knowledge of these facts as you watch the tournament, just don’t bet any money on them. 😉

This was an insane week.

My iPhone all but died Wednesday. I had to do a factory reset. Took multiple attempts. Thought I’d lost everything. Fortunately my contacts and pictures were saved even if my ringtones and apps have to all be reloaded.

My work laptop died today. This is the second laptop death in a month. Fortunately I am scheduled to get a new one in a few days anyway…but several urgent documents are now trapped in a digital no fly zone ensconced in heartless black plastic.

On top of it all I feel like I’ve been stuck in about a 4 week rut. Been sick for most of that. You ever have a stretch like that?

Tomorrow it all changes.

Why? Because I decided it will.

You see today I set the stage. I edited about 100 photos that were sitting on my home computer while on a conference call. I finished the rough draft of a white paper for work. I created about 6 ringtones from songs I’ve had stored forever. And that was just the warm up act.

In short, I created.

When we create…anything…we tap into that bit inside us which desperately wants to stay out of ruts. When we accomplish, even small feats like creating a ringtone, we put a notch in the creativity belt.

The picture above is from an all day meeting. Oh MAN do I dislike all day meetings. We had the table full of “creativity” goodies, silly putty, colored pens, pipe cleaners. Some people get into that sort of thing. I tend to immerse myself in it. Why? Because if you want to “think outside the box” on the work stuff you can do it by moving WAY beyond with the creative goodies. It’s funny too how far other people started taking their creations after I had “given them permission” by being so oddly out there.

So if you’re stuck in a rut, or feel one coming on, what will you do TODAY to get out of it? Not later, not when (fill in the blank) happens, not when you get time…today, now.

Drive a different way to work, go without socks, create a fake history lesson, ANYTHING different and moderately creative will tap the keg on your creative juices.

Don’t wait, do something different today. The first thing that comes to mind? That thing you just dismissed? Do THAT one.

What will you do different today that will spark your creative energy?

5 Rules that Build Creativity

 

Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re one of those people who think creativity exists “outside” the rules. “So”, you ask,” how can there be ‘rules’ that build creativity?”

Since I could probably write a couple weeks worth of responses to that one silly question I’ll settle instead for just giving you the rules and let you sort it out for yourself.

Rule 1: Stop Forgetting
You were “created in the image” of God. You remember God? The CREATOR? That means you ARE creative BY NATURE. It’s funny how creative a room full of four and five year olds can be. Creativity doesn’t start being forgotten until later in grade school when the strong desire to “fit in” takes over.

So Rule 1 is: stop forgetting that you ARE creative and always have been.

Rule 2: Stop Criticizing
Once the desire to fit in kicks in the inner critic shows up. The inner critc shuts down ideas before they get anywhere. The inner critic tells you you’re not (full in the blank) enough.  Shoot that dude. The inner critic kills ideas at the idea stage. Learn to muzzle him.

So Rule 2 is: stop the inner critic. Sometimes the best ideas grow out of a chain of bad ones that you just run with.

Rule 3: Stop Comparing
I find it interesting that we label a whole group of people as “creatives”. What does that mean? Bill Gates is creative but would he be labeled A creative? Does the title refer solely to people who make a living at pursuing artistic endeavors?

I’ve known some people who have creative positions who aren’t.

The trouble with the label is that it segments people. Now the whole “fit in” thing is applied to a non-creative category of people who aren’t “creatives”

So Rule 3 is: Stop comparing and labeling yourself.

Rule 4: Stop Hesitating
Your brain is insanely fast. Generate enough ideas and you’re bound to find a good one. Too often the inner critic stops the flow. Fast and furious free association is a great way to generate ideas. Don’t try to get the final thing all at once, lets the bits flow, sort through them and pick the ripest ones.

So Rule 4 is: Let the ideas roll, even the bad ones.

Rule 5: START
Being creative doesn’t mean learning to paint, or write music, or sculpt. It really just means doing something in a new enough way that it catches someones attention. THAT CAN BE ANYTHING! It can be the way you hang tools in the garage. It can be the way you dress. It can be the way you schedule. Find something you have a passion for and start there.

So Rule 5 is: Pick someplace you’re comfortable, think creative expression, and start there.

As someone who is often labeled as creative but who doesn’t make a living as a creative I really enjoy helping people who are either labeled as non-creatives or who make a living as something others than a creative re-discover that they are in fact creative.  🙂

Exercise:
1. Picture your inner critic as a person. They do NOT look like you because you ARE creative. So what do they look like? In detail.
2. Your inner critic needs to be subdued. Based on the detailed description you created of this villain what creative method will you use to dispose of them?
3. What are some of your favorite activities? Incorporate one of them into your method for stifling the critic.