Monday, March 24, 2014

29 Ways to Stay Creative

I found this great image that gives a list of the 29 ways to stay creative. 29 ways?!? You've got to be kidding, right? So, I figured I'd go through them with you and see if we can come up with any more to add to the list.

1. Make lists. Okay. Sounds easy enough. I make lists all the time. I think this one we can make a bit more specific. Make a list of topics you want to write about.

2. Carry a notebook everywhere. Definitely something I'd advocate. Even if it's just your smart phone. If you get a burst of genius, get it down. There are plenty of applications for your phone to help you keep track of topics you want to write about. Evernote is a great one. iPhone comes with two: Lists & Notes. I use both. 

3. Try free writing. This is a perfect way to start writing. You don't have a topic so just start writing about whatever is on your mind or just type the same word over and over again until you finally break free and a topic comes to mind. Works nearly every time.

4. Get away from the computer. This one my dog loves. When I need to take a break from the computer I take my dog for a walk. Win - win situation for everyone.

5. Quit beating yourself up. Please, stop berating yourself if things don't go right or if you can't think of a topic. Please, no violence against writers. Give yourself a break. oops, I think that's another tip later on. But, I'm serious. If you still can't think of something to write about, don't worry. An idea will come. If you beat yourself up about it, nothing good can come of it.

6. Take breaks. See, there you go. Take breaks. Flip through a magazine. Go for a walk. Watch a TV show. Call a friend. Stroll through Facebook. Google strange stuff. Your brain needs a rest. Why do you think some of your greatest ideas come to you when you're in the shower or driving? Murphy's Law at it again? Not necessarily. Your brain is constantly working. When you give yourself a break, your brain can finally concentrate on what it needs to do. Find you a topic to write about.

7. Sing in the shower. Well, okay, I think that's a bit personal. I'd prefer not to, but to each their own. But, like I said before, sometimes the best ideas come when you're in the shower.

8. Drink coffee. Fire up those synapses. Give yourself a bit of a jolt. Just don't go overboard and get all jittery and end up walking circles in your living room mumbling to yourself. I don't think this idea wants you to get addicted to caffeine. 

9. Listen to new music. That's always a great one. And, really listen to the lyrics. You can get some great writing topic ideas.

10. Be open. I'm not exactly sure what this one means. I'm an open person, to a point, but I think it mean be open to new ideas. Be open to new options of finding topic ideas. Sometimes an idea comes from the strangest places or person.

11. Surround yourself with creative people. Join a writer's group. There's nothing like being in a room full of creative people. The room literally buzzes with creativity.

12. Get feedback. Everyone needs this. Even those of us who think we've got it all together. Another person's opinion helps to alter our perspective. You never know when someone else's opinion might send you on another path to another great idea.

13. Collaborate. This only works if you work well with others. Think back to kindergarten? Did you work well with others or did you spend a lot of time in the corner? eh?

14. Don't give up. Biggie. Never give up. I've been writing for twenty-five years. I still consider myself a child of the trade. I'm always learning. 

15. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice makes perfect, right? Well, not always, but the more you practice something, the better you get at it. That includes writing.

16. Allow yourself to make mistakes. We all do. Heck, just the other day, I created something for our next writer's conference and I went over it and over it. Proofread the heck out of it. Created an e-mail, sent it in, and wham. Looked back at the piece and saw a blazing error. Argh! I had to correct it and send it again. But, all is okay. Allow yourself to make mistakes.

17. Go somewhere new. A new environment can fill you with new ideas.

18. Count your blessings. Definitely. You are truly blessed. You're a writer, doing what you love, how blessed is that? Keep counting, I'm sure you can come up with more.

19. Get lots of rest. A must for anyone, especially writers. If your brain doesn't have time to shut down and restore itself, how is it ever going to continue working?

20. Take risks. Not literally. I don't mean walk in the middle of traffic or anything. But, consider a topic you haven't before and put your special twist on it.

21. Break the rules. Rules were made to be broken, right? Well, not all of them. Some of them can land you in jail. But, when it comes to writing, definitely break some rules. See what it does to your writing.

22. Don't force it. The ideas will come in their own time. A watched pot never boils. Oh, wait, it will eventually. Same with your ideas. They'll come. Eventually. Just give them time. In the mean time, go back to number 6.

23. Read a page of the dictionary. Now that's definitely an extreme way to find a topic idea. Try the Thesaurus as well. I remember back in the day, we had a set of Encyclopedias on our bookshelf. I loved reading them. What do we have now? Wikipedia. Try it.

24. Create a framework. Hmmm, well, let's see. Framework? Outline? I think that's what this means. Try an outline. Try a flowchart. Start with a word, then move on to the first thing you think of, then move on to what that makes you think of and so on until you've come up with an idea to write about.

25. Stop trying to be someone else's perfect. I'll do you one better. Just stop trying to be perfect. Period. See number 16.

26. Got an idea? Write it down. Don't trust your memory. Especially at my age. I write everything down. If I don't, I know I'll forget. Your brain can only hold so much information before it dumps a few things to hold more. Don't let one of your great ideas be that something that gets dumped.

27. Clean your workspace. A bit of procrastination, but it works. A messy desk is the sign of a genius, right? Einstein never had a clean desk. But, every once in a while, organizing your desk can help you organize your thoughts.

28. Have fun. That's what this is all about. Writing is fun. You get to have fun doing what you love. If it starts to feel like work, it's not fun anymore. Keep some fun in your life. I have a helium-filled balloon in my office. It always makes me smile when it drifts around into my vision.

29. Finish something. Yes, it ultimately comes down to this. You must come up with a topic, write about it and then finish your piece. Just as we've done here. We're at the end. 

Now that we've seen the 29 ways to stay creative, do you have something to add?