Fostering Your Creativity

Inventing Imagination

How does one learn creativity?

Somehow, a lot of us grew up with the assumption that we only had to know the facts and logistical side to anything we did. After the age of ten, people stopped encouraging them as silly hobbies and tried to get us to memorize everything about our craft, including how to make it into a career. They wanted us to get better at what we did and be the best. If we weren’t the best, then everything seemed wrong. In this cycle, a lot of people lose their passion for the arts and would rather settle into an average life of working, not enjoying their job to the fullest. 

If we are supposed to make it in this society, we have to be better than anyone else, right? We have to be the best in our particular niche, right? We should always think outside of the box in order to generate ideas no one else has in order to avoid cliché ideas, right?

All of these ideas are half wrong. About as wrong as Wesley was dead in The Princess Bride. Only mostly wrong. Not all wrong, which means still partially right. We DO have to start thinking about how to make it in the world, because it takes a lot of work. However, making work or money the main focus can suck the life out of what we love. At such a point, it is only a matter of time before the idea of ‘making it’ becomes too daunting and it looks easier to settle for a plain old, nine-to-five job which will pay just enough to get through life comfortably.

Some people get those jobs, don’t mind it, but eventually want to build it into something more.

What if we could even take those boring jobs to the next level with a little innovation?

THE BOX

Ah, yes. “The box.” The dreaded thing that kept me from doing anything as a child. It stumped me through most of my teen years, too. I never understood how to think outside the box. One of my greatest weaknesses as an artist. There is a remedy, and here it is:   

A good friend of mine always told me, “We shouldn’t always have to think outside the box, but we should also learn to use the box.” Sometimes thinking outside the box can lead to great ideas, but it can prove to be a problem in some cases. Mostly when it stumps people attempting to start or finish a project.

It is really easy to get stuck in the train of thought saying, “This has already been done before, why bother?” I can think of a few authors who have talked on this same subject of fostering creativity before. (Check out Steven Pressfield, Edward De Bono, or Paul Arden.) I’m sure they did a better job at explaining, seeing as they wrote entire novels on the subject and here I am writing a measly blog post. But tell me, do you think these authors have the exact same ideas as me? The same thoughts or wording running through their heads which eventually made it to paper? No. 

Getting out of my head is the hardest part. I don’t think well. My method for thinking outside of the box involves sitting at my computer, opening a Word Document, and writing the first thought to cross my mind. They usually start out pretty silly, but with enough random thoughts comes a valuable new story.

The world has been around for a long time. A lot of people have lived in the world. Sometimes it takes a long time to build up the skill to think of brand new, completely unique ideas, and some people may never build the skill. (I don’t know if I ever will do it well, to be honest.) What is ‘new’ is the way people convey these different messages. Some people learn better when they have a detailed explanation through a novel, while others prefer the K.I.S.S method. “Keep it simple, stupid.” Therein lies the reason I am writing this.

Creativity is not only generating ideas never done before, but it can be using old trends to bring new life to them.

“ALL YOU GOTTA DO, IS DO IT.” ~My Godfather

Does anyone else look at these people who go viral on TikTok and think, “Man, I could do that, too. Why did they get famous for it?” The answer is pretty simple: they did it, I didn’t. 

It took me almost a month to sit down and finish this post. Ironically, I didn’t finish it because I wanted to say something no one else had heard before. The reality of it is, what I have to say is different from what other people have to say. What an artist or business mogul has to say is going to be different from any other. Sure, there are exceptions when it comes to hard facts, but I’m not trying to emphasize that side of this topic.

Finishing this post meant work. Work sucks sometimes. I disagree with Mark Twain on his famous quote, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” because changing my mindset from “I have to…” to “I get to…” takes work. 

To get anywhere in life takes work.

To go that extra mile, though, it takes a lot of work.

Half of creative thinking means just sitting down and writing some crazy ideas out on a page. As a writer, I have three half-filled journals and (yes, I just counted) six pages of notes in my phone with random, possibly bad ideas for stories, marketing, or plot points for my novel. For every ten bad ideas I have, there is one gem. Before I can get to that gem, however, I have to shuffle through the bad ideas.

To be creative, one has to escape the “it’s been done before” mentality and, put simply: TRY.

After the age of ten, people start pushing us to learn all we can about the things we say we love, or they will tell us we can never make it. The game changer is which of us have the willingness to work, or let that fire burn out. 

DON’T LET THE FIRE GO OUT

It’s okay to take time away from the business side of life to focus on the things you enjoy.

I forget this sometimes. I keep trying to make sure I post at least once a month. (See how that’s working? Not well…) Then every so often, I try to kickstart an Instagram page because I love encouraging other writers and artists, but it is time consuming and hard. Keeping up with these and working two jobs is hard. Doing this adulting thing is hard.

Last month, I took a week off of just about everything and went to my cabin with my friend. We spent the whole week writing as much as we could as fast as we could. It was daunting, wonderful, painful, and healing all at the same time. Ultimately, it showed me I can do more than I think I am capable of if I sit down and try. It also reminded me how much I love just sitting and writing silly stories no one will ever see because they are so bad. 

Trying to be creative is difficult, and it’s a lot harder to do under pressure. Start small. Or start by thinking of the most outrageous idea possible and dial it down from there. Try different methods. Do whatever feels right.

Creativity thrives when the creator is thriving.

So what I am really trying to say here, in case you are looking for a quick synopsis on this:

  1. Turn old ideas into new ideas. Use the box.
  2. To quote my best friend’s dad, “All you have to do, is do it.”
  3. If nothing else, remember this: Creativity thrives when the creator is thriving.
Fostering Your Creativity

Fostering Creativity

Some people view creativity as a personality trait. They think it really isn’t something to be learned, just hire someone who can do it better. It comes easier to some, that much is true, but not all can learn it so easily. Creativity is not just something that people either have or don’t have, it is a learned trait. 

How do I know this? 

I was born in a family full of logical thinkers/business majors. My dad is an IT manager, my mom was going to major in accounting, my brother in marketing, and my sister in business communications. Meanwhile, I am a writer and artist… A mutant personality in my immediate family. Logical thinking does not come natural to me. (Queue my family mumbling in agreement.)  

Because of this, for a long time I thought I had to find something other than writing to make a living. I forced myself to learn logical thinking and business, and it was not easy. I even took a logic and business class to strengthen my abilities. Over time, logical thinking became more natural and I learned how extremely useful a tool it can be alongside my creative mindset. 

I realized logical thinking and creativity should go hand-in-hand. If you think about it, every craft you ever did as a child had to have reasoning in it somewhere. The popsicle stick house you did when you were four years old was not held up by faith and trust, it was probably held up by Elmer’s Glue™. 

Creativity is the ability to come up with outrageous ideas; logic is knowing when or how to use those ideas. 

Another revelation I had in the midst of my logic class involved me having to relearn some of my creative habits. In focusing purely on logic, I left out the creative aspect of thinking. Having discovered this, I knew I couldn’t have my writing career be fully ‘business’ or fully ‘creative.’ Those two concepts need each other to thrive. 

It’s a tightrope walk. One has to balance both boosting their career through marketing or communication, but also they have to foster their own creativity in order to generate unique ideas to build up their business.

Now, I know this was a broad post, so in turn I am going to go a little bit more in depth about some of these concepts over several blog posts. Let’s start by clearly stating these false perceptions on creativity I will be evaluating:

  1. One cannot learn how to be creative.
  2. Those who are creative cannot possibly thrive in the business world.
  3. Those in the business world cannot possibly be creative.
  4. One can’t make a living if they focus too much on their creativity.
  5. There are no more unique ideas left. 
Stories

Growing and Fading

For eight years, Jane and I were inseparable best friends. We met when I showed up at her house one day for a play date. She was too young to remember, but I do. It was hard to forget how her biggest stuffed bear was shredded to pieces, making it look like it had snowed in her bubblegum pink room. She was devastated until I helped her create a snow angel out of the stuffing. The two of us spent everyday together after our meeting. She shared just about everything with me. When she had a hard time, I would be there for her in the blink of an eye. At her house, we would play dolls, read all of her favorite books together, but my favorite was when we played tea parties. When she started going to school, I would set up a tea party and wait impatiently for her to get home. Whenever she walked in the door, I could hear her backpack drop to the floor, she would briefly greet her dad with a hug, then run up to her room to play with me. Occasionally, she would bring a friend to play with us too. It was our constant routine throughout all of first grade, then second, and part of the third. However, one day, she didn’t run up the stairs. I sat and waited for an hour before peeking around the corner of the door frame. From the door, there was a clear view of the living room at the bottom of the stairs. She sat on the couch watching my favorite show without me. When she saw me, it was as if she had forgotten about me, like she had to process in her brain who I was and why I was in her house. When it did process, she immediately jumped up and met me at the tea table. “Would you like some more tea Mr. Bear?” She asked the little stuffed bear sitting next to me as if nothing strange had just occurred. I stared at the little brown, button-eyed bear slouched on the little pink chair beside me. I realized Jane would always be able to play with Mr. Bear, but not me. I felt myself fading from Jane’s thoughts.

It wasn’t going to be long before I would become just another childhood fad to her. Before I could truly be forgotten, I said my goodbyes to her and Mr. Bear. I also told Mr. Bear to take care of my bestest friend, Jane, then I disappeared from Jane’s thoughts completely. It was only to be expected. I was only the imaginary friend, after all. 

I never expected to go back. The thought of seeing Jane all grown up scared me. Yet down the line, I did find myself back in her house many years later with a new best friend. Her name was Annie. Jane’s daughter.

Stories

A Taste Of Life

“Would you like a little taste of life?” 

I looked up from my book, smiled at the woman and reached for a sample. Once I touched it, a shiver went down my spine. I didn’t want to taste it anymore, but I felt as if I couldn’t retract my statement. The woman was staring at me intently, her smile and unblinking stance made it look more like this was poison and she was waiting to watch my soul drain from my body. 

My eyes pleaded to her. I was scared. If I didn’t take this, then I would be considered vain and cruel. I knew I was above human life, but I also knew the stories of valiant soldiers sacrificing themselves for their one true love. Or people inspiring those who felt lost. I knew humans to be good creatures. The bitter taste in my mouth made me start to think I was wrong.

Images of current events on earth started flashing through my head quickly. I don’t know what I thought life would be like. Not this.

Where is the magic? What happened to those tales of knights saving their people? The stories made humans sound like such romantics, but here they are arguing at every moment. People are dying, wars have broken out, none seem content.

Each and every one of them look for happiness, but they are looking in every wrong place, causing them to stumble back once again into a lonely depression. Then some find the happiness they desire but find everything wrong with it until they find a way to push it out of their lives. 

Is this the meaning of human life? To find something to love only to cast it out the moment something doesn’t seem perfect. Is the goal to find perfection? Because there is none as far as the oceans are wide. Nothing can reach perfection to a humanistic standard. They have conflicting ideas of what is perfect, so why is that the goal? They want a sinless, perfect society of people, yet some people have different ideas on what should be considered a sin. So tell me why they cannot reach an understanding when all of them are falling short of their own standards they set for themselves. 

They still tell those beautiful stories that made me think humans were wonderful creatures who were more powerful than other creatures of my caliber believed. Humans even live by these ideals to be the best. 

I watched a boy draw a beautiful picture, yet as he grew older, he did not continue his passion and settled for a job that he did not love. He could have followed his dream, but others were cruel to him and made him believe he was no good at anything. 

Is everyone so focused on themselves that they can’t support anyone else? Or are they too busy focusing on tearing other people down that they can’t do anything that could possibly make them happy? 

The small taste of life I tried leaves me with so many questions, more questions than answers. People spend so much time trying to figure out the meaning of life, yet I am a superior being and I can’t understand the meaning of human life. If life is about what you do and not what you say, the meaning of life is war and pain. 

But as the scene starts to fade away, two older people come to my vision. Their eyes were full of sorrow, they had experienced the pain of life that I had only just seen, yet they still appeared to be happy. There was a sense of joy in both of them, but there was also something hidden which neither would show the other. They were hiding it to protect the other’s happiness. Was that a good thing? 

The visions faded until all I could see was the woman sweetly smiling at me. “I hope you enjoyed.” Was all she said to me before walking away. No answers. No one to ask. I held my book back up on the table and ignored all that I had just seen. What was the point of asking questions there will never be a good answer for?

Stories

The Man In The Shadows – Part 1

Her eyes shone with curiosity. Three years ago, she would have been terrified of him. She would have tried to run. She didn’t know who he was. He could have been a figment of her imagination. Nonetheless, that shadowy figure was real to her and she couldn’t figure out why he was following her.

At the beginning, she just thought it was her father sleepwalking around the house, but one night when she walked her candlestick toward the door, he ran away. She ran to tell her mother, only to see that her father was sleeping soundly. It had not even looked like he had stirred his bedspread since he went to sleep. The discomfort she felt that night was beyond comparison. 

As the years went on, the discomfort faded into habit. She expected him, yet she was also afraid of him. She always had a tinge of worry in her breath at night as the sound of pacing began, but her desire to know more about the figure was greater than any angst she felt. Nothing added up about him. She couldn’t understand why he showed up everywhere, including when she was on holiday away from home. She wanted to know more.

The only things she truly knew about him were the things she had observed through the years. For instance, only she noticed him. Only her. She had asked her roommate at school if she had noticed him when she had come over late at night, once. Her friend shrugged it off and laughed as if it was a preposterous concept. “Oh friend, your imagination is astounding.” That was a year prior.

Three years and she still didn’t know anything about him or why he was following her. She wanted to know why only she could see him. Most days he took up all of her thoughts. She wondered if he was evil, but that seemed unlikely as she didn’t think someone so evil would only taunt her with questions. She wondered if he was angel, demon, or human. The thought that occupied her mind the most: why her?

All of her questions remained unanswered. Each time she tried to approach him, she was confident it would work, but each time she was met with bitter darkness. She didn’t know why she tried, but somehow, she knew if she kept trying, she would manage to get some answers.  

So, just like all the times before, she lit her candle as soon as she heard him pacing behind her door. However, this time she pulled from her closet the black gown she had worn for a funeral years ago and grabbed a black cloth from her nightstand and covered her face. She wanted to match the shadows in which he lurked. 

When she pulled open the door, she half-expected him to disappear as he always did, but he seemed unphased by her presence. In fact, he had not so much as flinched at the sound of the door opening. Surly she did not believe her costume actually worked.

Her hope in satisfying her curiosity grew as she watched his pace, but she could not figure out what she was watching. He was not lurking in the shadows. He was a shadow walking among the shadows of her home, yet he also had a face and all of the features of a man. His demeanor gave her goosebumps and his dark eyes sent fear down her spine. But she had waited so long to meet the man in the shadows, she couldn’t walk away too soon.

Every question about the man that had ever crossed her mind had vanished. Her voice fought to say something, anything against the will of her fear-struck mind. All that managed to come out of her mouth was a breathy, “Why?” The beginning of most of her questions was why. It had to mean something.

He did not respond in the way she had hoped. In fact, he hardly responded at all. 

A creepy smile spread his face, yet it didn’t seem like he had intended for it to be a malicious looking smile. She couldn’t describe it, rather than showing his emotions with his behavior, it was as though she felt what he felt. He felt relieved. 

Stories

Tiny Star

In the quiet of my bed, the darkness lurks and threatens to bring terrors my way and nightmares to life. Through it, I cannot be frightened. I cannot be frightened because sitting outside my window is the tiniest of stars. She shines down from the heavens to let me know that I am safe. “Oh what is it like up there, Tiny Star? You are one of many stars, but you are my star. You are a speck in this galaxy. If you are a speck, then I am nothing. Oh, the wonders you have seen of this world and all of the others around you. Can you see me from up there, Tiny Star? Or am I alone here?” Across the black skies, a glistening star flew over the house, just below Tiny Star. When it was gone, I could no longer see Tiny Star. There I was again, laying in the black room with no Tiny Star to help me fight the monsters. I tore my eyes away from the sky and looked downward. The longer I stared at the floor, the more fear built up in me over what was waiting for me when I looked back up at the room around me. Then there was a yellow reflection of light on the ground which kept flashing. I didn’t want to look up. If I looked up, I was afraid I would let myself hope in something that might be an illusion. I might look up and there is no good light, it is only a monster parading around a flashlight. Something in me told me to look up, so I did. Sitting on my windowsill, there was a little, glowing firefly. He was positioned in the same spot Tiny Star was, and I knew Tiny Star was with me.

Stories

Feels Like Home

It had been a while since I had seen him. He grabbed me by my wrists and pulled me toward him, guiding my arms around his waist into a soft embrace. I could feel his gaze as I jokingly tried to wriggle out from his grasp. I stopped when he kissed my forehead. I couldn’t contain my smile. He obviously couldn’t either, I could feel the corners of his lips spread apart as he began to pull away. I pressed my face into the collar of his shirt and he rested his chin on the top of my head. He smelled amazing. Like the perfect Fall day. The kind of day where you can smell a bonfire in the distance, but by the time it reaches you, the remnants of the smoke simply smells like a scented candle. Moments like these, I just want time to freeze. I don’t want to go back into reality. Reality is filled with far too much pain and heartbreak. This place, the place where I can feel his eyes gazing down on me with nothing but love, this is the place I want to stay. 

Alas, reality set back in as I arose from yet another dream. There is no more love in his eyes when he sees me. Simply a look you would give to an old friend that you barely know. A friend you still care about, but not enough that you want to be involved in their life. 

I didn’t need a dream to remember. I could feel everything I felt in every moment of every dream. The feeling of butterflies when he grabbed my hand, kissed me, or even just smiled in my direction. I remember the feeling of being heartbroken every time he was upset. I remember how it felt when he said he loved me. I remember how it felt when he told me goodbye.

I remember. 

 Now I’m stuck in this cycle of wanting to move on, but these dreams of him haunt me. These dreams make me wonder if I will ever be able to move on. People tell me I will be able to move on, I know that I won’t. But I desperately wish there was a way for me to figure out what to do next. Right now, that is my weakest spot. I can’t do anything I used to love, because everything I used to love involved him. 

Every day I see him. But not like I used to. He doesn’t see me the way I see him, he doesn’t come up to me and tell me I look beautiful. I don’t even get a glimpse of his eyes because he can’t bring himself to look at me. Part of me wonders if he does that for him or for me. I would like to say that it is for him, that part of him still wants to be with me. Then he goes off, and once again, I am left in reality. 

I miss him. I miss him waltzing around with his arm draped over my shoulder. I miss that feeling I would get when I was around him, that feeling of home.

Stories

I Noticed

I noticed everything but said nothing.
You are fooling yourself with pretty lies.
I was drowning until I felt something.

You were distracted but I was trusting.
I watched as the pain grew behind your eyes.
I noticed everything but said nothing.

You told me you loved me; you were bluffing. 
Months later I was left with only why’s. 
I was drowning until I felt something.

My world fell when I saw you were touching
Other girls who were devils in disguise.
I noticed everything but said nothing.

You convinced yourself you were not rushing;
You picked them like a doll to customize.
I was drowning until I felt something.

Forgetting about your touch is numbing.
You were too used to all of the goodbyes.
I noticed everything but said nothing. 
I was drowning until I felt something.

Stories

Letter From Fate

Have you ever heard the misconception that your destiny is set? That no matter what you do, everything that happens in your life happens for a reason? That’s not exactly how it works. 

My name is Fate. And I am a little bit ADD. 

Yes, yes, of course I have a plan for your life and all, but you have the complete power to change it. Honestly, you changed it about five minutes ago. Remember the last thing you said? Your personality shifted a bit in that moment. I knew that the person you were supposed to marry wouldn’t suit you anymore, so I found a new one. 

All it could take to change my mind is a simple touching of hands, spilling coffee on your desk, or picking your next movie. I’m just here watching what you do and deciding what you can handle and what you can’t. 

Don’t go getting all cocky on me! I still can make your life miserable. But I’m a sucker for a happy ending so please don’t make me do that. 

Anyway, all of this to say, the next time you try to hurt yourself, I am sending in a freaking army. That cute guy from last week? Yeah, well, I’m not supposed to say this, but you will be seeing him again. And I need to see how this Hallmark story ends- you can’t just cut it off halfway through. 

So let’s make a deal, I will send you a little note when things get rough, (come on things can’t always be easy, but they also can’t always be terrible!) and all you have to do is keep your head up.

Do we have a deal?