Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Post: Simple Steps to Creativity with Terry Holliday, Part 3

I can always count on Calvin for a relevant
quote. Via Sustainable Revenue Formula
(neat article on creativity, go read it!)
Part 3 of Simple Steps to Creativity with Terry Holliday is here! Missed Part 1 & 2? You can read them here and here.

A quick recap of her intro:

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.

This week, we finish up with fifteen more wonderful suggestions and some words of encouragement from Terry. Let me just take a moment here to thank Terry so much for writing this absolutely lovely piece for the Museum of Joy - it's been a delight and an inspiration to me, and I hope to you as well!

26. Don’t give up.
Jericha says: I can't elaborate on this. Don't forget it, either. It may be the most important one of all.

 27. Learn from your mistakes.
Jericha says: if you beat yourself up over things that didn't work, you're using your precious time and energy to reinforce a bunch of negative gunk. So what if you screw up, or do something you don't like? Transform it into something positive: make it a learning experience. It sounds cliched, maybe, but actually when you can get over the nicey-niceness of it, it's amazingly helpful. Also, you will make mistakes. If you refuse to learn from them you'll just keep making them.

Things that happen when you sit in silence are magical...
Remedios Varo, The Creation of Birds, 1957. Via Venetian
Red. (The post on her is awesome, by the way - all about
her inspirations in art and alchemy and science!)
28. Be still. Sit in silence.
Jericha says: This is probably much harder to do than you think. Ten minutes of doing nothing and you're going to want to move, twitch, get a snack, look outside, see what's on TV...but if you can really make yourself sit still and just think for a while, eventually you may find all kinds of interesting stuff flowing in that simply won't come to you when you're moving around and listening to music or the TV, even unconsciously. I'm a professional artist model, which means I spend a LOT of time sitting still. I CAN'T move. At first I used to go quietly nuts with boredom, but then I realized that I could spend the time thinking about creative projects. The stuff I thought up while sitting still in a room full of quiet artists was far and away more focused and interesting than anything I came up with at any other time. I planned my entire NaNoWriMo novel while modeling, and if I hadn't had those hours of sitting still in silence, I would never have written it.

29. Take a long, warm bath while listening to your favorite music.
Jericha says: I honestly believe that relaxing the mind is absolutely necessary for the best and deepest inspiration. The really good thoughts just can't get OUT when your brain is constantly working on surface-level stuff. Taking time to relax, unwind, and luxuriate will allow things to rise up that are usually squashed by brain-drivel.
30. Take risks.
Jericha says: hell yes! Risks are stimulating and enlivening. Nothing kills creativity like boredom and routine.

Treat failure like compost. Compost is a rotten pile of crap  
out of which awesome stuff grows, amirite? Of course I am.
Via The Garden of Eaden.
31. Keep trying even if you fail. Those failures may turn out to be wonderful creative surprises.
Jericha says: so many things come from happy accidents...and keep trying when it comes to getting your work out there, too. We all know the stories of novels that turned out to be bestsellers and movies that turned out to be blockbusters getting rejected at every turn, but somehow we think that it shouldn't happen to us, oh dear me no, as if instant gratification and overnight success ought to be ours even though it happens to almost exactly nobody. 
32. Don’t be discouraged if family and friends are critical and not supportive. They may not understand the driving force behind your desire to create.
Jericha says: sad, but true! Instead, try and find some folks who do understand. They're out there - on the internet (um, hi, I'm right here) and in real life as well. And sometimes people you think would be totally unlikely are the most supportive of all. 
33. Ask questions and listen intently to the answers.
Jericha says: an inquisitive mind and a lively sense of curiosity will fuel your creative life, but not if you don't listen. The wider you keep the channels of stuff flowing into your brain, the more likely it is that some of it will want to flow out again, transformed by your own unique inner working into a creative and fascinating response. After all, so much of art is a response - to beauty, to culture, to an experience. Asking questions and really listening to the answers gives you something to respond to. Make yourself an open circuit, not a closed system.
34. Keep a journal.
Jericha says: this can be hard for some people, but it doesn't have to be a "Dear Diary" sort of thing, ya know. It's a great place to practice imperfection, play with ideas, make messes. I use mine mostly to argue with myself: I'll come up with something, immediately hate it, and instead of crossing it out and slamming the book shut I'll take the time to actually explain to myself why I don't like it or what the flaws are, and then I have a sharper version of the idea, and I'll dislike that too, and repeat, sometimes ad nauseum, until I realize that actually the idea's become pretty interesting and worth a try.

This sleeping kitten may not make you more creative, but
ZOMG it is adorable. Also now that you have seen the total
cuteness you can stop procrastinating by watching cat
videos in the interwebs. Don't lie. You've done it too.
35. Get some sleep. Rest has been found to make people more creative.
Jericha says: being tired makes the mind sluggish! Sleep well, get plenty of light, and the physical energy and verve will find form in your work. It's almost impossible to make anything really nifty when you're exhausted.
36. Set aside an afternoon or evening once a week just for creating. Then stick to it. Make it an art date with yourself.
Jericha says: ART DATES ARE THE BEST. You'd be amazed at how creatively enlivening just the act of caring for and prioritizing your creative time can be. Also, it's a really nice thing to do for yourself.

37. Don’t answer the phone during your art date.
Jericha says: that's right. I'd say get rid of all distractions - TV, radio, cell phone, internet. It's amazing how we mediate ourselves. Often it's frightening to actually take time away from all our devices and distractions and come face to face with ourselves, but honest and beautiful things will come to you that just can't get through when you're constantly on the alert for your phone or half-attuned to some form of screen. 

My dance/craft partner Christina Beam and I performing
The Hot Soup Duet I choreographed for us. We made our
costumes from scratch. It was awesome (and also VERY
CREATIVE...although we still can't figure out how to
thread her sewing machine. I know, it's embarrassing.
There was a lot of glue gun involved. But they stayed on!)
38. Teach someone your favorite art technique. The person you help may spark your creativity as they ask questions. 
Jericha says: this is totally true. I've seen it most in my dance practice: I never choreograph for myself, but when I'm coming up with a dance for my students, it really pushes me to create something beautiful & worthy for them. And as they ask questions and overcome the stumbling blocks, not only do I refine my work, I also learn - about my own process of thinking (why do we go here instead of there? how does this transition work??, about the details that I am usually unconscious of, all kinds of groovy things.

39. Find an artist mentor.
Jericha says: this is hard and sometimes scary (I don't want anyone telling me what to do or how to do it!? but in all honesty, a mentor helps you overcome your fears and blocks and can teach you things you simply can't teach yourself. Just find one who inspires you - just because they're a recognized artist, or an expert in their field, or very sure of themselves, doesn't mean they'll be able to help you.
40. Try to always have one or two projects going that are easily accessible. When you have an extra ten or twenty minutes you can work on the project. The little bits of time will start to add up. Soon you will have a project finished.
Jericha says: I don't know about you, art friends, but I am a very easily distracted person. If I don't have a half-finished project lying around, I'll just open up my laptop when I get bored. If there's something shiny lying around waiting to be done, though, I'll walk into the room, see the pieces, and start fiddling. Then seven hours go by and I wonder why I'm bloody starving. 

A final note from Terry:

Here's Terry. Doesn't she look super nice?
That's because she IS super nice.
I hope you will try some of these ideas to help yourself become inspired creatively. Please cut yourself some slack. Don’t be discouraged. There is a time for everything. Some days will be more creative than others. You may find that you have hit a block. Take the block to mean that you are getting ready to move on to something new and fresh. Your subconscious may be at work coming up with something wonderful. In a month or two you may be creating like crazy. I certainly hope so. I wish all of you a blessed creative life filled with inspiration and joy.

Thank you, Terry! This has been a totally marvelous list and I'm planning to keep it pinned up on the wall in my craft room. In LARGE letters. Dear readers, you should feel excited about wandering over to Terry's excellent creativity blog, where she's got all kinds of fun things going on. Hooray for creativity and inspiration! May you all be blessed with time, coffee energy, and inspiration!


  1. These are wonderful suggestions! I learned a wonderful thing this weekend at the DFW writer's conference. It's called fast draft. I did it last night and typed 1819 words in 45 minutes. Are they any good? I don't know. That's one of the rules. You can't read or edit what you wrote. It's all about plowing forward and allowing yourself to suck. It felt really freeing because I tend to want to edit everything.

    1. Me too! I would never have written a novel without NaNoWriMo for exactly that reason - when you're trying to hit 50K words in 30 days there's no time to go back. I've finally managed to break myself of the obsessive perfectionist thing because of plowing through that. (Although I did read what I wrote once I was done. Are you allowed to do that with the fast draft? I mean, can you go back AFTERWARDS and edit?)

    2. Only when you're done. You know, when you type "The End." That's when the real writing gets done.

    3. Oh, okay. That's pretty much how I have to do it, now. I would never finish anything if I let myself go back and fiddle.

  2. I can't sit still; I just fall asleep. It's not my fault; I have kids. It's kind of like being a shark: if I'm not moving, doing something, I just go unconscious.

    Great dance, by the way.

    1. I was the same way for a long time, actually. I think the reason I can sit still for a pose is that I tend to pick poses that are just a wee bit challenging, so I have to concentrate a tiny bit of my attention on articulating it - which keeps me engaged and awake but leaves enough of my brain over for thinking. If I was just sitting still somewhere at home I'd be out like a light in under three minutes.

      And thanks!

  3. Bah, I hate when I forget to hit the subscribe button!

  4. Thanks for speaking up on my blog today, Jericha! I had to come over and follow yours.


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