I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Three R's of Creativity


Teri here:

“I’m not creative.” My friend Shelly heard these words over and over when she sought help with decorations for a women’s conference.


If she’d asked me, I would have said the same thing. Mind you, I’ve written three full-length novels, started on the fourth, and have ideas ricocheting around in my head for the fifth, sixth, and seventh. But I had boxed creativity into the category of crafts, and you don’t want to hear stories about my attempts at tying bows or pulling the trigger on a glue gun—although I have hot-glued some incredible blisters.

After I grasped the truth Jenness blogged about—that the ultimate Creativity Expert made us in His image and blessed us all with a capacity to create—I smacked my head and muttered a few of those names to myself that I’d never let my kids say to each other. (Dummy, noodle-head…you get the idea.)

Teachers use creativity when they think of new ways to present a concept to students. Computer experts use it when they devise clever new applications for our gadgets. Moms use it when they concoct shrewd ways to get their kids to do chores, eat their peas, and keep curfews. Lawyers use it…okay we won’t go there.

Mark Batterson writes about God and creativity in his book, Primal. After speaking about the two hemispheres of our brain—all that stuff about intuitive right side versus the logical left side—he makes this statement: “Being half-minded is no better than being halfhearted.”  I’d really like to love God with all my mind as well as my heart.

Three concepts help me in embracing creativity: risk, randomness, and reams.

Risk
Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in developing creativity, said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

I have to risk the chance that not all of my ingenious ideas will be great. I have to take a chance on failing. I have to throw caution to the winds at times and ignore the advice of Mrs. Pitts, my third grade English teacher. (I kid you not, that really was her name.)

 So, I write an incomplete sentence if it sounds better or end a sentence with a preposition to avoid sounding awkward. I’m working at ignoring the critics sitting on my shoulder, both real and imaginary ones, because I want to risk being the writer God made me to be and write to an Audience of One.

Randomness
When life quenches the child-like spark of creativity inside me, randomness can reignite it.  Shelly (the same friend mentioned above) gave me an alphabet cube. When I need a new idea, a creative detail, or even a solution to a problem, it’s amazing what happens when I roll that cube and a random letter pops up. I brainstorm with that letter, and somehow it lifts me out of the rut. I’ll post more another time on how to use randomness with your writing, but I already hear my Ponderers sighing at my long-windedness. Getting excited about creativity does that to me.

Reams
This just means oodles, scads, gobs. No matter what you’re brainstorming, the more ideas you come up with the more likely you’ll get something really unusual. I read once that at Disney no one was allowed to pooh-pooh any ideas during their brainstorming sessions. Sometimes a silly idea provides a stepping-stone to a fabulous one.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if creativity has more r’s. We’d love for you to leave us a comment telling us what you’ve learned about creativity. Extra kudos for you if they start with r.

And get ready for this: I’m adding a $20 Barnes and Noble card to the gift basket!

Blessings, Teri

Photo credit: flickr.com

40 comments:

  1. Rare, resourceful, Teri, your post is revitalizingly reinvigorating. I'm re-amazed at our Ponderers (and thankful to be one.) You're not long-winded, not rambling, but rocket-science level.
    I hadn't heard of alphabet cube, hmmm, good for kids, too.
    And a $20 B&N gift card in our rounding basket? THANKS and rah! rah! rah!

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  2. I love your blog and Dee stole all my r's! Really! Ponder, ponder, ponder. Oh! Here's one. Rithmetic. We have to count the cost as well. As in time spent pondering all those words. Because creativity comes at the expense of time spent in front of the TV...napping...yacking on the phone...shopping...but oh, the payoff. The joy of seeing what's playing in our mind show up on the computer screen.

    Thanks Teri for an inspiring blog!

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  3. Fantastic post, Teri. Love the alphabet cube. I need to get one. And I was not think you were being long-winded.

    Creativity comes in many forms. I'm crafty, but I don't always feel creative. Thank goodness I have inspiration from the One who is all things. I appreciate the differences He gave each one of us.

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  4. Awesome idea about the cube, Teri! I can't wait to try it, but I don't have a cube, so I might have to pull a letter out of a Campbell's alphabet soup can instead...or circle a random letter in a book...or...hm....still thinking here.

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  5. Wow, Delores! You rocked my world with your r's!

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  6. Great post, Teri! Love the r's. My "r" is ridiculous. Creativity gives me freedom to let the ridiculous in me out...usually in rough draft form. (Which, come to think of it, is another "r.") Probably for many of us, what spills out in that rough draft has a bit of ridiculous in it - whether it's a slew of "was" sentences or horrible dialogue. But that's just stage one in the creative process - and there's liberation in just letting it flow. Then in stage two we get the fun of rereading, revising, rewriting...ooh, so many "r" words!(Ding, ding, do I win a prize?)

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  7. Pat, it's so true that there's a payoff! And so many things can Rob us of time to be creative. See, we're still using our "r" on the alphabet cube!

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  8. Lisa, before Shelly gave me the alphabet cube, I used a baggie full of Scrabble letters. You can improvise!

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  9. Amy, another idea is to open a magazine or book and blindly put your finger on a word. Anything that helps you be random.

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  10. Melissa, I love the ridiculous! So like Disney! Ridiculous is a stepping stone to genius at times. And ding, ding, ding...you all deserve rich rewards! LOL. Such fun!

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  11. Teri,
    What a response-inducing, refreshing blog! I loved what you talked about, especially in the "risk" section! It's hard to step out there, but oh so gratifying! I find my creativity flows when I am in a place of Rest (rather than stress). I am learning to capture the ideas and wRite them down. Thanks for the rousing, thought provoking post!

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  12. Ahh, Jeanne, more great r's. I like what you said about "Rest". So true. And yes, risk is a huge part of writing! You know what you feel like when you sit in front of an agent or editor to pitch your story!

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  13. Hey, everyone...did you see Susie May's latest newsletter? She used the word ponder! (Thanks for the shout-out Susie!) If you haven't signed up for her newsletter you can do so here: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/

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  14. Hi. Great post! Before I read the other comments I want to get my "r" out there. Relief. Creativity breeds relief - that you don't have to fit into everyone else's box. Relief means, to me, that you can think without trying to figure out how it was done before.
    Yay! I love reading your writing. I look forward to more of your posts.

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  15. Teri, thanks for the great idea about the Scrabble tiles.

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  16. I've got an "R"!
    Refreshing! Being surrounded by the creativity of others is refreshing to my soul--and spurs me on to try new things--like an alphabet cube.
    And, I'm on the hunt. If I can find the aforementioned alphabet cube, I'll add one to the prize basket! Don't forget: Leave a comment to have your name added to the drawing at the end of the month. Use the word "ponder" in your post and we'll add your name twice. I am pondering who will win!

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  17. I agree, the Chans, creativity brings relief because it's okay to try new things, okay to fail, okay to start over. thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Beth, you refreshed my memory...I was supposed to mention the contest info! At least I gave it an honorable mention by adding to the basket. I'll let you know if I can find a source for the alphabet cube.

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  19. Beth, found!
    http://vintagegameworld.com/PartsSTUV.htm#SCATTERGORIES

    You might have to scroll down to scattergories.

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  20. Some other r words--rotate--look at an item or idea from different physical or philosophical viewpoints.
    Repurpose--think of a new way to use an object, idea, metaphor, setting detail.
    I know there are more. Thanks Teri for pointing out this important aspect of writing!

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  21. Thanks, Teri! Between this post and Jenness' last post, you're helping me realize I may have more creativity than I thought. I've always found it easier to write non-fiction than fiction. Perhaps writing good fiction isn't an "impossible dream" after all. I'll definitely have to ponder this a bit more!

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  22. Hi, Teri. I loved the blog. I also think of myself as a pure failure at craft-type projects. But let's go ahead and call writing arts.

    Literature is one of the fine arts isn't it???

    So I'm an artist.
    Who couldn't super glue or sew a straight line to save my life.

    As for the Risk part of your topic, I used to coach softball and I'd tell my little girls that the very BEST hitter in the major league struck out three times for every four times they came up to bat. In a lot of the world failing 3/4 of the time could be considered utter failure, but a .300 hitter was a superstar. So get up there and swing. And if you strike out, just get up there and swing again.

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  23. Shelly!! You're here! And you're the one who got me started on this creativity train. Rotate and repurpose are more great R words for creativity. Maybe we should re-title this post The Many-Splendored R's of creativity.

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  24. Ava, fiction isn't an impossible dream. The only impossible dream is the one you don't shoot for. Besides, Beth can tell you it's okay for non-fiction writers to come over to the dark side. : )

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  25. Welcome, Mary! And thanks for the inspiring analogy of batting. I'm so glad for the risk you've taken to write such side-splitting great reads! Everyone, if you haven't read any of Mary's books, order one today! http://www.maryconnealy.com/

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  26. Teri,

    Between you, Jenness, and Lisa, I am realizing that while I am definitely NOT crafty, I am most certainly CREATIVE. If God is creative, and we are created in His image, then we are all creative as well! Thank you for that Reminder!

    And Pat…are you saying I have to make sacrifices?!?! In all seriousness, I honestly had no idea the amount of time I wasted watching tv or mindlessly surfing the internet until we were without cable for almost a month. No television, no internet, 27 days. It was a real eye-opener! So, we need to Relinquish some of our time wasters.

    I also think we need to be willing to Request help from others, Rest in the Lord, be Resolved to stick with it, and then be willing to Receive constructive feedback. Oh, and don’t forget…we need to READ. I think the more we read, the better we will write!

    And Teri, don't you know? I'm the long-winded Ponderer!!

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  27. Oh, Heidi! I love your "r"! Request help! We have twice as many opportunities to get out of the rut if we brainstorm with others. I'm just so thrilled to have Shelly as a brainstorming partner.

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  28. Contest update: The alphabet cube--letter die, whatever--that Teri referred to in her post is ordered and will be added to the basket! Confession: I ordered an extra one for myself!

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  29. Yay, Beth! I'll give everyone some more exact ideas and examples about how to use it soon, and maybe Shelly will even do a guest post for us!

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  30. I'm going to have to quit this blog so I can put my name in the hat. Great additions to the prize basket, ladies! And great R's! Racking my brain to come up with another one, but maybe that's it right there. :-) Racking your brain. Something creativity comes easy--the perfect thought that pops into your head and makes you go AHA. But it doesn't always happen like that. Sometimes you have to push if the ideas aren't flowing. It can be work. But it's oh-so worth it.
    Side note--went into a stamp/crafting store today that had a ton of samples someone had done using the supplies. Books, cards, boxes, journals. Amazing.
    Great post, Teri.

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  31. No quitting allow, Jenness! We need you! And I like your "r"! I know this has been kind of a fun deal with the r's, but you can seriously use this same technique to brainstorm for solutions to problems.

    The whole idea is to nudge your brain in a new, different direction.

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  32. Great post, Teri. I love your ideas. I already own an alphabet cube courtesy of Scattergories, only now I'll be putting that cube to a new use. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  33. Very thought provoking blog. Thanks. My r, I admit, is more than my fair share of rebellion. Not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to creativity. Rules are good, blindly obeying them not so much. Being willing to go first out onto the rough waters has its rewards.

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  34. Oooh, Kelly! So true. The creative types have more than a smidgin of rebellion! It's how the Ponderers came to be...check out Beth's first post, "Let the Ponderin--and the contest--begin!"

    Okay, I'm seriously impressed with the contributions everyone made to the r's!

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  35. Teri,
    I love your post! For some people creativity is not something given, its something they use. By using it, whether it be scrabble tiles or any of the ideas mentioned, it opens the door for letting God do a work in that person's life. Awesome ideas by the way! I definitely will try the cube!

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  36. So true, Jennie! I love your thought that it "opens the door for letting God do a work in that person's life." Truly amazing!

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  37. Great post!
    I love the letter cube idea. My sister once gave me a book about 4" square and inside was a word or picture to get a writer's creativity flowing. I used it quite a bit for a while. I need to track down what I did with that. I'll try the cube idea, too! Inspiring!

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  38. Hmmm, that books sounds interesting, Marcie. I've never seen one. Let us know if you find the book. Others might be interested. I'm about to roll my alphabet cube now to see what it is my main character notices when she walks into a room.

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  39. Angela Bell7/22/10, 9:55 PM

    Great post Miss Teri!

    I'm pondering for another R word. Hmmm . . . what about Relax? Recently, I felt overwhelmed with my list of things to do in preparation for the ACFW Conference. I wanted everything "perfect", which Raised my stress level. My stress then blocked my creativity.

    I finally Realized that if I didn't Relax I would never get anything done. I'll never be perfect, and God doesn't want me to be perfect. He wants me to trust and Rely on him. If I Relax and submit my writing/life to God, His grace can make up for my imperfections.

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  40. Angela, that's an awesome "R" word! Hey everyone--this is my student, the one who is a Genesis finalist! Isn't she great?!

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