TOOLS FOR CRACKING THE CREATIVE CODE!
1.PUT YOUR CRITIC ON THE SHELF!
Ask a 5 year old to write a song, paint a masterpiece, perform a dance and they’ll say “Sure!” Ask a ten-year old and most of them will shake their heads and tell you they can’t do any of these things!
What’s changed? The Inner Critic has appeared and once it does, our creativity is in its stranglehold. So, let’s deal with this inner critic right now.
Draw a picture of your critic. Is it big, small, fierce, sarcastic…..mean?
Write down some of the things your critic says t you. “You can’t do that!” or, “Who do you think you are?”
Critics are usually trying to protect us—they think they’re saving us from embarrassing ourselves or failing. They are really just scared aspects of ourselves. They need us to NOT to believe them but to thank them for speaking up, then gently take them off centre stage and give them milk and cookies while we get on with things.
So let’s collect all these critic and put them aside where they can play together. (If there is such a thing as critics playing together). You can pick your critic back up when you leave.
Now, just as a final clearance, let’s close our eyes and imagine you’re standing under a shower that’s washing away all of your critic’s talk & tension out of your body. Feel the freedom that just for today, your critic is not with you.
Now on to TOOL #2.
2. CONTACT YOUR CREATIVE GENIUS!
In the book Cosmic Memory by Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder, the authors talk about the “artificial reincarnation” work of Dr. Vladimir Raikov, a Russian researcher, who hypnotized art students to believe that they were Great Masters such as Leonardo de Vinci, Raphael or Rembrandt.
The results were astonishing in that the students started to create very credible art work during the course — even if they had never painted so much as a smiley face. He was able to replicate these results in other fields such as healing, where students were given the name and personalities of great healers.
So, here’s a little guided imagination to help you find your Creative Genius.
EXERCISE: Take some long deep breaths. Now I want you to imagine that you can travel to a parallel universe when a ‘twin’ self exists, a twin that is already successful at what you’d LOVE to do creatively. This self has already solved the issues you’re encountering, is already actualized. Perhaps they’re holding 1 or 2 of your books. Or have some of your painting on their walls, or reviews from your plays. Just watch this twin self for a moment. Listen to this self as it talks about its successes.
Now, step into the twin self. Merge with it and feel what that’s like. See if that twin self has any guidance for you about your current project or life situation, any symbols to guide you. Take a moment to write anything down that you feel is important.
If it feels right, you might want to ask that twin self to come back with you today & to be with you in the rest of this workshop.
(Is anyone brave enough to report back what they experienced?)
3. GATHER YOUR CREATIVE TEAM:
You know the saying, “Two heads are better than one.” Edison had his “Invention Factory”. Bill Gates has a similar thing at Microsoft. Google works hard at setting up a creative environment. They all know that by working with a team of creative people you can increase creativity exponentially!
There are 2 ways to do this. One is to have a real life creative team, as in a writer’s group or mastermind group. But the way I want to explore this right now is by creating an imaginary team, an inner council of heroes and mentors from any time in history, people you can talk with and ask advice of.
This technique was first introduced by Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich”. Before achieving his success, Napoleon Hill met with an imaginary master-mind group, each night. He would close his eyes and visualize a table occupied by such great men as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ralph Waldo Emerson, etc
After meeting with his mastermind group for several months, he found he’d developed each of their desired characteristics into his own personality.
Napoleon also went to his imaginary mastermind to solve any problem he was facing.
It’s a great tool for finding new perspectives and looking at your problem from a different angle. This works because it bypasses your conscious mind (and editor) and accesses your deeper creative talents. And who knows, if there really is a collective unconscious, we may actually be able to tune into people.
Write the names of people who could be in a M/M group with you. They can be historical figures, relatives, existing friends. Whoever you feel supports your creativity. Ask one of them for a few short words of advice now about your art or life project—see what they say.
4. CREATE FOR YOURSELF ALONE!
Ignore trends: If you want to be truly creative, you absolutely must ignore trends. Block them out–pay zero attention to them. If you want to make something truly unique, trends are irrelevant. Looking inside yourself is where you will discover a greater wealth of creativity than available in any hot trend. Here are some more suggestions for insulating yourself from trends:
Don’t watch TV: Don’t listen to the radio, and remove the vapid elements of popular culture from your life. These things aren’t bad for you in moderation, but they will normalizing your thoughts with the rest of society, and do not foster true internal creativity.
Don’t try and fit into a genre. Actively trying to fit your art into a genre is severely limiting and detrimental. Labeling it in a genre is a necessary evil for people to be able to find your work, and you will probably have to do this–but it shouldn’t be something that crosses your mind when trying to work.
Spend a lot of time alone: Many people find their creativity really starts to open up when they are removed from others and able to have quiet focus for their creative work.
Ignore the past: Want to be really creative or original? Ignore or forget the past; ignore what the world has created up until this point. Create things from within yourself that don’t draw inspiration from what has come previously
EXERCISE: Pick a partner, someone you DO NOT know. Now, hiding your paper, make a drawing of that person. It can be an abstract or an actual depiction, but it’s just for you. That person will NOT see it. Great. You have 3 minutes to do that.
Now we’re going to do a second drawing. This time, you’ll be showing your work to your partner & the rest of the class. On your mark, get set, GO!
Compare the two—which is more alive? Which one do you like better?
What does this exercise show you?
Don’t write for fame or recognition: Want to know how to lock up your creativity? Write for fame. Or, try to write the great Canadian novel. Or a story that will win a contest. Or do a painting/play/song that the critics will rave about. Any of these actions are very unlikely to succeed because you are not focused on your own truth while doing your creative act. As a result, the work will have no power.
The biggest and most important job of an artist is to listen to what’s trying to emerge. You CAN”T do that if you’re focused on praise, outcome etc.
Don’t listen to feedback from friends: Use writer’s groups etc, people who believe in you, but who can give charge neutral responses.
Quote: “It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine” — Byron Katie Her website is: www.thework.com
“Do I Need Your Love, Is that True?”
5. BE WILLING TO BE AWFUL!
So many writers want to be really good right away. What pressure! You wouldn’t imagine you could play at Carnegie Hall the year after you started playing the piano. Give yourself time. Trying to be good puts too much pressure on your writing. Let it be what it is. When it’s good, it will be good, but meanwhile, let it be bad.
A lot of really great things come out of bad writing. And bad ideas. First of all, whether you’re working on great ideas or bad ones, you’re still being creative. Any of them could turn into something golden.
Remember, Nature itself is beautifully imperfect. Work with those imperfections! On the first draft, let them be there as much as they wish.
Exercise: Write a couple of exquisite sentences about oranges. Only allow yourself to do brilliant writing. Go for 2 Minutes.
Now write what Annie Lamont calls “A shitty first draft” about oranges. Let any old words come out. Just let your energy fly. Don’t take your pen off the page. 2 minutes.
Resource: Bird by Bird by Annie Lamont, a book about creativity.
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” – Ray Bradbury quotes (American science-fiction short stories and novels writer,1920)
Thomas Edison catalyzed his creativity with powernaps. He would climb up on a workbench and have a nap for twenty minutes. Great flashes of insight came to him during these powernaps. He soon refined the process so he could quickly go to that space between being fully awake and fully asleep. He trained himself to remain in that in-between state for longer and longer. Nowadays we know that he was accessing the alpha and theta levels of mind.
We can’t practice this here, but I’d like you to practice it at home. Some people keep a notebook beside their bed to write down ideas that come just before sleep.
7: CREATIVITY QUESTIONS!
Questions can act like dynamite sticks. Here are some I use all the time to break out of stuck places. Use them for creative projects or with anything that’s needs blasting open.
1) What are the 3 craziest things that could happen right now?
2) What does my character or the person in my life dilemma most NOT want to have happen? Imagine this happening and what good might come out of it.
3) What would turn this whole situation upside down?
4) If I imagined myself coming to a doorway covered by a curtain, and suddenly swooped the curtain aside to find a big surprise, what would it be?
EXERCISE: use one of these questions for 2 minutes around a problem you’re trying to solve.
8. DEVELOP RHYTHM AND MOMENTUM:
A) Have a routine! Having a routine is actually good. Most ‘creatives’ use this tool. Many writers not only have a minimum number of words they make themselves write each day, but some have almost superstitious requirements for the circumstances under which they write. The 18th century German writer Friedrich Schiller, for example, kept rotten apples at his desk and soaked his feet in a tub of ice water while he wrote!
Don’t be afraid to seize control of your environment and make it work for you. Ray Bradbury wrote the book-burning story Fahrenheit 451 by leaving his house and writing in a library. Stephen King insists on utter silence while writing, while Harlan Ellison listens to high-volume classical music.
Set aside a block of time each day and kick the session off with a creative exercise that triggers a flexible state of mind—any of these exercises I’ve given you will work really well. Set a daily goal (e.g. one sketch, 1000 words, an invention or song a day).
EXERCISE: Of you were to get more of a rhythm/routine, what would it look like?
Thomas Edison compiled over 3,500 notebooks & 4 million pages of notes during his lifetime.
Research has shown that all the great creative minds have been note-bookers who record their observations, thoughts and ideas. By writing down ideas, observations & thoughts, you create a feedback loop with your mind that accelerates and accentuates your creative mindpower. Writing down your thoughts with words and sketches gives massive encouragement and impetus to creative thinking.
Thomas Edison had what he called an ‘Idea Quota’. By the time of his death in 1931, Edison held 1,093 patents, a record for an individual. His goal was to come up with a minor invention every 10 days and a major invention every 6 months.
EXERCISE: Practice some note-booking right now. What are some ideas for your creative project you might want to think about later.
10) FILLING THE CREATIVITY WELL—ARTIST’S DATES–
Artist Dates are activities you set up for yourself to keep you inspired and motivated. Here are some examples of them:
-going to an art gallery
-looking at art books in the bookstore.
-listening to music that makes your heart sign.
-taking a course in another art form eg: if you’re a writer, taking photography course (or vice-versa).
-listening to music that makes your heart sing.
EXERCISE: What are some artist dates you could set up for yourself? What would feel really juicy to your creative self?
My coaching rates are usually 250 for 4 sessions, but for anyone who wants to try me out, I’m offering a special rate for people who contact me today. Three sessions for $99.00. That’s almost 50% off. BUT ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO CONTACT ME BEFORE THE END OF THE WEEKEND. SESSIONS CAN BE OVER THE PHONE OR IN PERSON!
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
BOOKS & OTHER RESOURCES!
YOUTUBES & TED TALKS:
Elizabeth Gilbert-Ted Talk on creativity.
Amy Tan: Where Does creativity Lie
Tim Broww The Powerful Link Between Creativity and Play
The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.
If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
FreeFall: Writing Without a Parachute by Barbara Turner-Vesselago
Wild Minds by Natalie Goldberg
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT WRITERS:
*Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) lived to be only 51 yet wrote more than 90 novels and novellas in his lifetime.
*Charles Dickens (1812-1870) wrote with a goose quill pen and blue ink on blue-gray slips of paper measuring 8 3/4 by 7 1/4 inches. He wrote a minimum of 2,000 words a day (some days he managed 4,000), publishing 17 novels in his lifetime. All of them are still in print.
*D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) never revised. If he didn’t like something he started over again at the beginning. He rewrote “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” three times, start to finish.
*John Steinbeck (1902-1968) wrote with a lead pencil. He went through as many as 60 a day. The edges of hexagonal pencils hurt his fingers, so he used round ones.
Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
E. L. Doctorow
Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
*Americans buy approximately five million books a day. 125 new titles are published every day.
* The first published book ever written on a typewriter was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain used a Remington in 1875.
* It took Noah Webster 36 years to write his first dictionary
A screenwriter comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.
“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is–”
“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”