Thursday Thoughts:  The Way We Create

Thursday Thoughts: The Way We Create

Everybody has their own style for what they do for a living or even how they pursue an interest or hobby. And the way I approach the mission can be completely different than the next person. For those who may be reading this and enjoy creating — whether it is as a writer, a painter or musician, or an artist in some other creative realm — I thought it might be fun to share our approaches. Sometimes we can hear what another is doing and think at first, how preposterous but then, when we embark on this different approach, we can find comfort and genuine benefit to adjusting our own existing way of doing things.  I looked online in an attempt to locate a useful Q&A, and found a great piece called “How I Create: Q&A with Poet and Writer Maya Stein” on the PsychCentral website. I encourage you to check out the profile of this writer by contributor Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

 

What I’ve also done is answered the same questions from my own perspective, and at the bottom, left those questions for you, too, writers, photogs, artists of all kinds, and encourage you to share your responses below in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you. And as always, thanks for reading. ~ Chris K.

 

WC_MyPalette_lowRes

No, I’m not a painter but I have played with paints for a few art classes at the community cultural center…

 

 

Using the question prompts from the referenced article above, I give you… drumroll, please… my own input. For what it’s worth.

 

THE WAY I CREATE  by Chris Kuhn

 

1. Do you incorporate creativity-boosting activities into your daily routine? If so, what activities do you do?

I am not as active as I might like to be, but there are two things that I find can help boost my creativity: listening to music and taking it outside.  What kind of music I play depends on the kind of writing that I am doing. If it’s gathering research for an upcoming article or some e-newsletter content for a client, I might be rocking out to 60s, 70s or 80s oldies. But if I am trying to channel a particular mood or transport myself to a certain place or scenario, usually instrumental from one of the new age/nature, light orchestral or light jazz sites supports my mission.  Depending on the time of year (summers in Florida = humidity = no way in hell am I stepping outside except to empty the dog), I might sneak out to the patio table and set up the laptop and sit and listen to the sounds of my backyard. Chirping birds, swaying tree branches, the sounds of life in the neighborhood like kids playing, dogs barking or someone hammering. After I get into a rhythm with the soundtrack outside, I can usually begin to start scribbling away.

 

 

2. What are your inspirations for your work?

The richness of conversation, life’s dialogues. I love to include the fun chit-chat between friends, the banter between lovers or wannabe lovers, the sound of storytellers baring all of their soul for the sake of love, friendship or feeling present. Love. Love is a big inspiration — the pursuit of it, the pettiness and frolic of it, the disappointment and heartbreak of it. Emotions — I love to explore these even when perhaps we may not be experiencing the kind of emotion everyone else in the world might prefer that we be experiencing. People’s unique takes on love and friendship, the good and bad in all of us and the decisions we face as human beings to follow our hearts or our heads. My love, love, love for the arts — music, movies, television, plays, musicals, books, visual art and sculpture, photography…whatever it may be. I cannot help myself. My adoration for the arts seeps into much of what I do.

 

 

3. There are many culprits that can crush creativity, such as distractions, self-doubt and fear of failure. What tends to stand in the way of your creativity?

Time or lack of it, and my serious problem I have of putting other clients before myself. If only I allowed my own pursuit of creative projects to take priority over the work I do for other people, it would be fascinating to see just how prolific I could be! Lack of sleep… usually related to that first reason listed. If we don’t give ourselves the proper amount of sleep to rest our brains, how can we expect them to perform to an optimal level? Even our imaginations need to sleep sometime. How else will we ever dream or even fantasize about next book’s lead character?! Sure wish I would take my own advice!

 

 

4. How do you overcome these obstacles?

To be completely 100 about it, I haven’t been doing such a good job at overcoming them, otherwise, I would probably have four or five books written by now instead of two. But I feel myself approaching a curve, and I consider exercises like these blogs, me metaphorically slowing down so I might make the turn without falling off the cliff and giving myself the proper time to think through what the obstacles are so I can finally address them. To put it more bluntly, I think I am finally ready to begin writing for myself again so I have no choice but to focus on overcoming these obstacles if I want to make that happen.

 

 

5. What are some of your favorite resources on creativity?

I do find that by listening in on interviews of creative people through podcasts or radio shows — chats with writers, actors or musicians — I am often inspired to hop on the pony and set out to the writing frontier once again. I also enjoy following certain creative people in articles and social media like excellent comedic writers or influential contemporary authors who offer up helpful advice to other writers and tell it like it is about the craft.

 

 

6. What is your favorite way to get your creative juices flowing?

I tend to write better early in the morning, and I do better if I schedule it in my day. When I’m actually working on a long-form project like a book, I will try to write a scene in a sitting. And if my typical chapters have about 3 scenes in them, I usually try to write three scenes a week so I’m knocking off a chapter per week. But again, it depends on the project. When I was working on an anthology where each section had a set number of poems and one short story, I might have aimed for a poem at each sitting or a scene in the short story at each sitting. What I found I need to do is let the creative juices flow organically. The moment I start to bash myself for not completing something, I begin to lose the inherent joy of creating. Sometimes we have to stop on the joy ride to check our tires for air or even check a map. It’s okay to do that.

 

 

7. What’s your advice for readers on cultivating creativity?

Start with dessert. That is, start by writing what you can’t wait to write the most. This may seem like odd advice, but think about it. What is going to get you more enthusiastic about continuing to write than having the most joyful time writing a scene you’ve envisioned in your head and cannot wait to see on the page?! If you write that and don’t have a good time, then there may be no point in pursuing this “dream project” of yours. But if what is most likely to happen does take place — you find yourself totally energized by what you just envisioned and created on the page, then you are likely to find you cannot wait to keep going!

 

There is no hard and fast rule that we must start with the salad for our meal. Eventually, yes, you will be eating that salad, but if starting with the cupcake, compels you to dive right into the main course, by all means, peel back the paper, unwrap that baby and sink your teeth into the sweetness of it all. Whatever will jettison you into the story, do it!

 

 

8. Anything else you’d like readers to know about creativity?

Everything I told you above may have absolutely no impact on you whatsoever. It may not work for you, hell, it may even work against your style of writing. That’s the beauty of finding our creative path. What works for one might work for some and not others. But be willing to try new things or you’ll never have a shot at discovering the most ideal way for you.

 

Another thing I’d like to pass along about creativity is that every possible avenue of your life, even the parts that don’t seem creative, have ample opportunities to find the creativity in them — even grocery shopping, grooming your dog, cleaning your house or making dinner. You decide how creative you are willing and able to be. Look for every possible opportunity to explore your creativity, not just in the obvious places.

 

My last piece of advice I can offer is tailor to your qualities that help you succeed. For example, I think like a spreadsheet and so outlines and tables are very useful to me in keeping track of information I share about my characters along the way or steps to how I want to reveal information. Think about what has always worked best for you, when you were a student, or when you are tackling some multi-step challenge. What tools or tricks have worked for you in life? Typically, that will carryover to the creative realm and support your success there, too.

 

BookCharting

Behold! The many posted wall-hangings of my many details of my characters in THE MUSE UNLOCKED, which have since been transferred into a series of tables in a Word document I call my “cheat sheet.”

 

 

 

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN, FELLOW CREATIVES…

1. Do you incorporate creativity-boosting activities into your daily routine? If so, what activities do you do?

2. What are your inspirations for your work?

3. There are many culprits that can crush creativity, such as distractions, self-doubt and fear of failure. What tends to stand in the way of your creativity?

4. How do you overcome these obstacles?

5. What are some of your favorite resources on creativity?

6. What is your favorite way to get your creative juices flowing?

7. What’s your advice for readers on cultivating creativity?

8. Anything else you’d like readers to know about creativity?

 

Answer in the comments below, make a video or blog post of your own, but do share, if you will!  I welcome your input to the question “How Do You Create?” And thanks in advance. ~ CK

 

 

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