Ingredients for a Creative Person

from Lucky Bug Paper Co. on Etsy

Learning how to be a creative person is a lot like learning how to make my Mother-in-Laws spaghetti sauce; you know all the ingredients but everyone’s end result is just a little different. 

I posed the question “What inspirers you to be creative?” to my friends and among the answers was Pinterest.  Now I have been in love with the idea of Pinterest since I was invited to join some time ago.   For those who may not be aware of what it is, the best way I have found to describe it is this.  If you take scrapbooking, Internet browser bookmarking and a PLE (Personal Learning Environment) and put them together you have Pinterest.  Anyway, I logged into my Pinterest account and searched for Creativity.  What I found was a treasure chest of pictures all linked to sites and blogs and all linked to creativity in some way.   So I created a #cmc11 Board and started pinning.  The board serves a couple of purposes.  The first is a convenient way to organize information I have found on the subject that also allows me to easily link back to the source material.  Second, the board serves as an inspirational place to go when I need a boost.  And third, a way to share my thoughts on the subject with people from all over the world.  This last one is interesting because things I “pin” to my board often get “repinned” but under a wide variety of board categories, this is a great example of how individuals take information and repurpose it in a way that is meaningful to them.

So in looking through my cumulative pins, I was able to pull out some common themes related to creativity and more specifically being a creative person.  So here are my Top Ten.

Creativity Ingredient List

  1. Be You.  Creativity is about uniqueness, don’t be afraid to say “This is me and I am awesome.” Believe in your ability to be creative.
  2. Have a passion in what you are doing.  If you don’t care, you won’t invest enough emotionally to create.
  3. Embrace “newness”.  New places, new perspectives, new people, new music, new experiences…you get the point.
  4. Share in Caring, ok a little cliché, but one of the common themes in being creative is to share with others.  The way you draw inspiration for other sources, you need to contribute to the creative cycle for others to do the same.  I like to say STIC it…Share, Teach, Inspire, and Collaborate.
  5.  Practice…I know you’re having a flashback to third grade violin lessons (sorry maybe that’s just me). But it is important. Just like exercise eventually leads to having more energy, being creative leads to more creativity.  Kind of like that body in motion thing.  Create something new every day, even if it is as simple as a new witty voice mail message or facebook status or a taking leftovers from the fridge and pretending you’re on Chopped.
  6. Failure Is An Option…and that is OK.  The thing is this business of creativity doesn’t come with an owner’s manual.  You are free-styling and mistakes and failure are an important part of the process.  Don’t be afraid to fail, think of it as exploring your options.
  7. Tune Out to Tune In.  Take breaks, disconnect from this reality and skip through another one.  Daydream.  Let your mind wander about unencumbered with limitations.  You might be surprised and what you find.
  8. Choose the company you keep wisely.  Just like Mom said.  Surround yourself with creative people.  If your work environment lacks options, join a group and make new friends. This is tied to #4.
  9. Simplicity.  Too often the creative process leads to so many options it is easy to make things complicated.  Simplifying is often the hardest and the most creative part of the process.  Your end result will be better for the effort.
  10. BREAK THE RULES!  Remember #1 on this list, be yourself?  If some or all of these aren’t helping you to be a more creative person, than find something that will.  In the quest to be unique, sometimes you have to take an unchartered route.  Happy exploring!

So there you have it, my ingredient list for tapping into the creative you.  Don’t worry if yours turns out a little different, that is what makes it uniquely yours.

Visit my board at http://pinterest.com/imness/cmc11/ to see the pins that inspired my list.

Picture from Secret Message in a Box by LuckyBugPaperCo. on Etsy.

The Importance of Hobbies to Creativity

When I think about my own creative roots I seem to be brought back to hobbies I have done throughout my life.  As a small child I loved to draw like most kids a little older and I was enthralled by Lego® blocks.  I worked alongside my Dad building all sorts of things and did crafts and ceramics with my Mom.  I have at times tried quilting, sewing, and painting.  My husband says I’m a genius when it comes to jury-rigging, given a few minutes to find some common household items and I can fix an amazing amount of stuff.  I got the tinker gene from both of my depression era parents.

It seems I have always had a desire to create.  In fact it was through the materials I created for organizations like PTA and Girl Scouts that I was offered a job to create educational materials for teachers and schools.   So I started wondering are hobbies the gateway to creativity.  A 2008 journal article in Psychology Today believes it is.   Right behind finding time for imaginary play comes find a hobby (Root-Berstein).  Hobbies let us indulge in what psychologists refer to as the “little-c”.  The “little-c” creativity is present in all of us, it is what helps us to think of solutions to problems and deal with change.  Through the working at a hobby, a person is practicing being creative.  A hobby allows the hobbiest to face problems, find unique solutions and stretch the limits of their imagination beyond what exists.  Whether it is putting together patterns to form a quilt or working out a complicated pattern to build a playhouse, working at a hobby forces your mind to reach beyond what it already knows.   Hobbies also let us tap into our passions an important piece of creativity.  Hobbies can also lead to some practical outcomes.

Take for example the small business Ramshackle Wonders. This business, found on ETSY, was born from the creative collaboration of friends with a common interest Medieval and Renaissance inspired items and a desire to craft their own.   These individuals, each with a passion for a different medium, began creating items mostly for themselves and friends.  Through their sharing and encouragement from those around them, they formed Ramshackle Wonders. The endeavor allows them to further share their creative vision and even make a little money to continue the creative cycle.   They ask for and take suggestions and ideas for new items as well as custom work.   A great example of working the creative process and I think it is wondrous indeed.

So the question is, do only creative people seek out hobbies or can seeking out a hobby inspire anyone to be creative?

Kickstart a Dream

There has always been much discussion in the world of music entertainment over just who hold the rights to the music a band creates.  Many lawsuits have been fought and many friendships have been broken over this issue.  Recently a Celtic Rock Band out of Toronto, Enter the Haggis,  parted ways with their record label and struck out on their own.  With the hopes of creating a new album under their own creative control they were faced with a very real problem.

How are we going to fund this?

The answer for them Kickstarter.com.

Kickstarter claims to be the world’s largest platform for funding creative projects.  They help fund projects in music, theater, film, publishing and more.  Here is how it worked for ETH.  They put up their project making sure the pitch to the public was genuine and fun to read.  Then they created a plethora of incentives for various funding levels from a digital download of the finished album to a having lunch with the band and more. They also aimed low asking for only half of what they needed to fund the production.  What happened next was amazing.

On July 7th,  I had the pleasure of attending a concert at which the band told us to watch for a big announcement at noon the next day.  Sure enough at noon the announcement of a new concept album was announced.  It was sent out via social media and email to their very loyal fan base affectionately known as “Haggis Heads”.  The idea, pick a day and a newspaper and create an entire album inspired by the stories that appear in the paper.  The first 1500 copies ordered would also receive a copy of the paper.  The plea, by September 1st they needed $20,000 to make it happen.  Well happen it did. In the first hour $5000 came in, in 8 hours $16,000.  The band was awed.   They opened new incentives for ones that were sold out, they pledged free stuff if they hit overall funding levels and it worked!  In two days they hit $30,000 shortly after $40,000, full funding.   They have promised a professional music video and a publicist if they hit $50,000 and I have no doubt they will.

So what makes these kind of fund drives so successful.  Perhaps it’s the idea that those of us less talented in some areas can come along for the ride.  Maybe it’s the idea that individuals have the right to own their own creative products.   Maybe it’s the ease and excitement of being part of the “in crowd”.  Maybe a little of each.  Other bands, like Scythian who funded their album “It’s Not Too Late” in this manner using Indiegogo have also had over the top success.  Scythian pledged to donate any excess funds to charity.   There is even a site, Kiva,  that allows regular folks to make loans in amount as low as $25 to struggling entrepeneurs in emerging nations.   The loan is repaid with interest over time.

For me I more than like the idea that I can help further another person’s creative contribution.  Whether it’s in helping to a band to produce an album that will bring a smile to someone’s face or in the case of a Kiva loan helping someone to feed their family or rebuild a home.   Creativity should be encouraged.  How about you, how will you join the Creative Revolution?   Click below for some places to start.

Crowdfunding Platforms

Kiva Loans  (If you recommend a friend who joins, you both get a free $25 loan to make)

Kickstarter

Indiegogo

RocketHub

 

UPDATE:  As of August 26, ETH hit over $60,000, three times their original request and there are 6 days to go. 

A Real Conversation Starter

global-conversation By drbexl

I have been poking around the topics of creativity, connectivism and communication while taking part in a Creativity and Multicultural Communications MOOC.  One interesting article that I came across while dodging down rabbit holes in Pearltrees was one on the concept of co-intelligence and the idea that by bringing diverse people together real social change can happen that will benefit the whole of humanity.  Sounds both simple and really daunting huh?

The article by Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute, a Co-intelligent Social Change Agenda resonated with me.  I have often wondered why people are so opposed to listening to another point of view.  Why so many people are so quick to hide behind their beliefs it almost seems as though they have forfeited their right to critically think for themselves.  The article shows some current real-life examples of how bringing together a truly diverse group of people, high quality information and facts and a skilled facilitator trained to help people both listen and speak can result in astounding results.  It seems that it is possible that individual gain and self-preservation can give way to decisions that have a positive impact on the whole of society and not any one select group or individual.

Other articles by Tom Atlee speak to the idea of a conscious evolution.  Drawing similarities to Darwin’s theory of Evolution, Tom believes that through our connectiveness to each other and to information we as a society have the ability and possible even the responsibility to find ways to purposefully guide our own intellectual evolution.  Big Think blogger Orion Jones also talks about how our social interactions may play a big part in our cognitive future.

The idea of Co-Intelligence is fascinating to me.  I believe it correlates well with the theory of connectivism and creativity.  The internet has given us the ability to be connected to more people and resources than ever before but at the same time in many ways has isolated us from true interaction.  It isn’t enough to know where to look up information, you need to contribute to the conversation and weigh in with your own uniqueness, experience and opinions. The world we live in gets smaller every day and the world our children will inherit will have few boundaries. Real change will only happen when we can come together with compassion, deference and look to what Atlee refers to as the Core Commons and open an honest dialogue.  Unless we take ownership of our place at the world table and reach out and connect, we can never truly become a conversation starter.

For more interesting and thought provoking articles go to http://www.co-intelligence.org/index.html

Works Cited

Atlee, Tom. A Co-Intelligent Social Change Agenda. copyright 2003. 10 July 2012.

“Resonate Intelligence and the Core Commons.” Copyright 2003. The Co-Intellence Institute. 10 July 2012.

http://www.co-intelligence.org/tomatleebio.html. copyright 2003. 12 July 2012.

Jones, Orion. Big Think. 15 April 2012. 12 July 2012.

Service Learning Connects the Dots

It’s interesting when things come into your range of vision seemingly all at once.  I’m beginning to pay more attention to coincidences and take note of the potential message they might have.  Sometimes it pays to listen.

I recently attended my youngest daughter’s college orientation.  One of the Parent workshops I signed up for was on study abroad programs, and being the Mother of an International Studies major, I thought this would give me some insight into what I was in for in the near future.  One of the programs that stood out to me was a Service Learning semester in Galway, Ireland.  I had not heard specifically the term “Service Learning” and was intrigued.  I thought this would be something for her to look into afterall it was in Irelend, how cool would that be?   Fast forward a week or so and  as I’m doing some expanded research on Connectivism and learning models connected to the theory , what do I come across but this Service Learning concept once again.  (Here is where that voice kicks in saying “Hey learn more about this”.)  What I have found is that a Service Learning Opportunity must combine theory with experience, provide further instruction and meet a need in the community.   Often we think that we must learn something, then go and apply that knowledge to see if we got it right.  This strategy allows the learning and the practice to happen at the same time.  It brings it all together and enhances previous knowledge by making connections to other people and sources of information.   It goes beyond your own head allowing the student to think, act and learn from the process all at once often working as a team so everyone benefits from the experience in some meaningful way.

I can see how this fits with the concept of Connectivism.  The learning happens from a multitude of sources.  It requires the student to work with others, share information, problem solve and seek answers to challenges outside their immediate internal knowledge bank.  High schools have offered service learning opportunities from rehabilitating historical buildings to running soup kitchens and food pantries.  The students apply what they are learning across their curriculum and can include ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music and Foreign Language.  The project becomes a real world application that inspires and encourages students to think in new ways. Ways that traditional classroom instruction, in my opinion, has little room for. In this less structured environment, the student must think abstractly, adapt to challenges and seek help from those around them.  Collaboration is a big part of the experience, much like it is in the working world.

I love this idea.  I immediately started thinking about how I can include a Service Learning Opportunity (SLO) into my already accepted Degree Plan.  In speaking with my mentor, I will be replacing or at least modifying my Capstone Project with a SLO.  I think it is the perfect way to understand how the scope of my college learning, coupled with my outside experience will come together in a real working setting while at the same time gaining an understanding of social issues and an expanded learning.

For schools and colleges this opportunity can go far beyond a food drive or a clean up day.   It takes time, thought and commitment, but it is possible for every school to do.  This is an opportunity all students should have.  When will more educational institutions begin to embrace this concept on a grand scale?

Do You Need A Problem to Initiate Creative Problem Solving?

It’s important not to stop once action is taken, re-evaluation is necessary to be sure you are consistently have the best solution to the problem.

Do you need a problem to initiate creative problem solving?   A short time ago I would not have hesitated to say “Yes.”   After all it seems pretty clear, it’s not, creative “everything is hunky-dory” solving after all.  One of the reasons I selected a course in creativity for  my Communications degree plan was I felt that one of the biggest opportunities for miscommunication arises when an organization is faced with a problem.  Emotions are high, people feel responsible (or worse distance themselves from responsibility),  there is often a financial aspect which makes the guys up stairs all nervous and then the panic starts to set in.  I’ve been there are once the panic takes hold, suddenly communication, at a time when it is crucial, is a train-wreck.   I thought if I could gain some understanding into the creative process it would inevitably come in handy.

First of all there are several models one can choose from if you want to tackle a problem “creatively”.  One such way is using the Simplex Process created by Dr. Min Basadur, describes a cyclical process with eight steps.  Now I would have thought the first step would be to state the problem, well that is actually the third step in this process.  I was skeptical but open-minded.  It seems in this model you first need to find what the problems are or could be.  Yes could be, as in the future.  There are several questions that are posed like “What would our customers complain about?” and “What slows down our work?” that are meant to get the team thinking about problems that exist but no one really is paying attention to.  Rather proactive in my opinion.  Once you have found some problems to solve, you move on to Fact-Finding, then Problem-Definition.  The rest of the steps are shown in the graphic.

I have to say I’ve been mostly prone to solving problems once they too big to ignore.  I haven’t thought much about looking for them.  It’s like a problem solving game of hide and seek, once you find the problem it becomes “it” and you get to go back to the fun part.  I found this to be really eye opening.  If teams could work through this method on a regular basis, it could potentially solve problems when they are rather small.  It also puts the organization in a position of strength being able to look ahead and actually be innovative as opposed to being on the defensive.   From a communication standpoint  bringing a working as a team from the beginning fosters a much better exchange of ideas.  If done in a safe environment where the members feels they can brainstorm freely in a divergent manner, the problem solving becomes a positive experience.  Once a problem has been defined, the group is invested and able to employ convergent thinking to analyze and refine ideas to reach a successful outcome.

The steps seem simple and straight forward but requires a leader that is willing to look closely at a seemingly smooth sailing ship and ask the question:  “Is she really sea-worthy?”   Would you like to know have much of a creative problem solver you are?  Fill out the Simplex Inventory, and best of luck Captain.

www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_10.htm