Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Post: Simple Steps to Creativity with Terry Holliday

Tell me you can take this guy seriously.
I am on vacation! After a long plane ride spent trying not to kill the five-year-old girl kicking the back of my seat, I stopped in Amsterdam's Schipol Airport, which impressed me mightily because the coffeeshop guy spelled my name correctly without being told (which is possibly the first time that's EVER happened to me) AND the airport cops were riding Segways but still managed to look both sexy and competent. If you've ever seen a cop on a Segway, you may realize just what an accomplishment that is. Segways are possibly the silliest vehicles in existence.

Anyway, now I am in my mother's house in Wales. She lives in a stone cottage. It's 250 years old and glorious, with a doorway I have to duck into (I'm 5'2") and three-foot-thick walls (best window seats ever). I get to do nothing but sit in the garden. It's especially special because my grandmother is here too, and I haven't seen her in 14 years because she lives in Australia and I am much too broke to go to Australia. It's the first time three generations have been in one house since I was ten. It's pretty much excellent. There is a lot of gardening and drinking of tea going on. I just wish my sister was here; it doesn't seem quite fair to be here seeing Grandma without her. It does mean more strawberries and double cream for me, though, so I can't complain too much. (Also, why is double cream only a British thing? It is so wonderful and cannot be had for love or money anywhere I seem to look back home. Also, the cheese here is superlative.)

Because I am on vacation and imagine that this is what people on vacation are supposed to do, I have a guest blogger! Terry Holliday runs an awesome website called My Creativity Blog. She is an artist, art teacher and blogger and I stumbled across her while looking for really excellent blogs about the creative process. Hers is super inspirational and I liked it so much I asked her to guest post and she said yes! She put together a wonderful post on 40 Simple Ways to Enhance Creativity in Everyday Life. I got really excited about her suggestions and so I'm actually going to post them in three parts: her intro and the first ten, then two chunks of fifteen each. (I don't know about you, dear reader, but my eyes tend to start glazing over if I read too many things in a list at once, and her Simple Ways are so good I want to make sure they get the attention they deserve.)

I've left a comment of my own on each of Terry's Simple Ways, because I have a big mouth and I get excited about things and I wanted to share my reaction to each of her suggestions - I guess more than anything because she and I are very very different people and yet her ideas have a universal appeal. So, without further ado, here's Terry!

Simple Ways to Enhance Creativity in Your Everyday Life
 by Terry Holliday of My Creativity Blog

Incredible conversations are occurring on the internet about everything imaginable.
Creativity is often one of those subjects. There are blogs, websites, and social networking
groups dedicated to the pursuit of creativity.

Everyday we are inundated with creative ideas, products and artwork on television and
elsewhere. We listen to creative work on the radio or our Mp3 players. When we shop we
see creativity in product displays, advertising, and fashion design.

Creativity is everywhere.

Because we live in such a creative world I find it humorous when I meet someone that says
they are not creative at all. I believe creativity is inherently a part of the human psyche. I
believe creativity not only surrounds us but dwells within us. I believe it is a God given trait
and that we are all creative beings.

Whether you are an artist, teacher, mechanic, or banker; you can enhance your life with
creativity. Enhancing your creativity does not have to be difficult. You can become inspired
in the strangest places and ways.

Try some of these simple ways to enhance creativity in your everyday life:

1. Pray daily for creativity in your life.
Jericha says: there was a time when I would have pooh-poohed this, because I used to think of "praying" as something inherently religious and silly. Now I think this is a wonderful, important thing to do, because I've found that one of the biggest blocks to creativity for me and many of my friends is simply forgetting to actually think of being creative. Praying for it is a way of taking the time to make room for creativity in your head, a kind of invocation of the muse. Just the act of asking is often enough to receive.

Even if you can't have a craft room as pimp as
*jenny b allsorts', a quiet corner can be plenty.
2. Make an area in your home or room where you can keep art supplies, writing materials,
sewing supplies, or whatever media you desire at your fingertips.
Jericha says: this is important! If your materials are around you, you're much more likely to wander over and start fiddling, and before you know it you're immersed in a  project. If you have to take everything out and set it all up every time, sometimes you just won't bother.

3. Think like a seven year old.
Jericha says: kids don't worry about whether someone thinks their work is "stupid" (unless an adult commits the horrible crime of looking at a kid's work and criticizing it) - they just go make what strikes them. And they don't think about imagination as a waste of time. Learn from this. 

4. Try something new whether it is listening to a different genre of music, learning to say a
phrase in a different language or wearing a new style of clothing.
Jericha says: this is a great idea. Sometimes pure routine is what causes creative death. A jolt of the new, even if we don't like the new thing itself, can be just what we need to get us out of a path of habit that's keeping our imaginations from wandering into new territory. 

5. De-clutter your home.
Jericha says: I find that a cluttered space often corresponds for me to a cluttered mind - a state in which there's a hundred small unimportant things nagging at me. When I clean up and make space, I find the corresponding spaciousness in myself allows ideas and images to come in where previously there was only to-do lists.

6. Wander through an art supply store.
Jericha says: this is a fabulous idea! I usually go just to pick up something I need, and cast one longing glance around before hurrying out. Making a date with yourself just to wander is a wonderful concept because you'll find yourself drawn to the beauty of the supplies themselves. Looking at gorgeous tubes of paint, the rich colors of clay, tiny glass bottles of may end up inspired to create something totally new just to get to play with some of the lovely materials!

7. Spend a few hours in an art gallery or museum.
Jericha says: I went through a period of not visiting galleries or museums because I found them depressing. I would think: I could never be as good as that artist, I don't make stuff like that artist, that art is boring. Then it occurred to me that I didn't have to go to "conventional" exhibition spaces, I could go look at stuff I liked! I started going to see collage and paper arts exhibits, and very quickly realized I was totally inspired by seeing new forms and new shapes. 

8. Visit a gardening center.
This is the California Cactus Center in Pasadena, CA. Look
at the light on those pots!It makes ME want to paint stuff.
Via Southern California Nursery Plants
Jericha says: growing things are really, really good for the mind. Get yourself around green stuff as often as possible and I suspect you'll feel a corresponding sense of vivaciousness within yourself. You don't have to buy plants or make flower-related art; it's just that being around lively, growing stuff awakens an unfurling in the heart and mind.

9. Experiment with rhyming words to make up a silly poem, song, or saying.
Jericha says: when I was ten, I went on a camping trip with my folks and I felt so good about everything, the delicious camping snacks and the ocean and the smell of the warm hills and the getting-to-do-nothing, that I made up a song called "This is the life for me!" all about how happy I was. Singing it now still gives me a sense of the delight I felt. Seems to me that playful songs and rhymes can really put you in touch with the parts of yourself that receive wonder, glee, and a sense of fun in a pure and unfiltered way - connecting you with #3, above!

10. Make a pact with a friend to be creativity buddies; then get together often to talk about
what you have been working on.
Jericha says: THIS IS SO HELPFUL GUYS ZOMG. No, really. I found that the single hardest thing about trying to continue to make art after I finished my art degree in college was the feeling of doing it in a vacuum, that nobody whatsoever cared or noticed that I was making anything. Instead of being surrounded by influences, suggestions, critiques, feedback, and ideas, it was just me, all alone, and I kinda felt like what's the point? Then I got talking to some friends, and it turned out they were all feeling very similarly. So we started making a point of talking about our work. All of us noticed a huge uptick in our creative drive and verve. Most of the artists I know prefer actually working alone, but pine for a sense of community. Creative get-togethers, where we talk and eat and bring things to show and share and work on in small ways, really get everyone excited. 

See, I told you she was awesome. Check back for Post #2!


  1. this is awesome! thanks for all the inspiration!
    I want to make more art with you before you leave!

    1. Agreed! I have nothing to do in June but make art and pack, so that should work out.

  2. I love these! Have a fabulous vacation. I'm jealous!

    1. I'm using them to fill my vacation with creative awesomeness. Which, um, so far involves spending a lot of time walking on beaches and eating chocolate mousse. I'm sure it will turn out creatively somehow.

  3. Hmmm... 40 things strikes me is being decidedly un-simple. I mean, I can't remember a list of -3- things when I go to the grocery store, and that's pretty simple!

    And I want to already respond about things, but I'm gonna wait till I see the rest of the list! Yes, I am!

    1. Aw, c'mon. The LIST isn't simple, the THINGS ON IT are. And anyway that's why I'm breaking it down. So all our faulty memories can maybe retain a few more things.


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