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Category Archives: Creativity Guest Posts

82 Jessica Warren

The Creative Escape

Sometimes I find creativity sneaking up on me in the oddest places. When I’m driving, trying to fall asleep or when I’m just waking up, when I’m out and about and have absolutely nothing to write on et cetera. These are the times when I try to keep repeating the thoughts over and over in my head so that when I get home I can phrase it exactly as it is in that moment, then I see something else that decides to distract me from that thought and I have another creative moment and they begin to get jumbled together.

Ah, the life of a bipolar. Creativity strikes at the worst and yet the best of times and then becomes a whole mess that one must try to decipher. I like to think of it as that huge mess of yarn that we knitters and crocheters have to occasionally deal with that is a pain in the you know what, but once you get through it, you can turn it into something beautiful.

I can turn my messy thoughts into many different things, they can go from being a horrid mess that cause me to want to cry and go fetal into being a beautiful poem or a blog post that someone else who may feel the same exact way can relate to but isn’t able to fully express, to a painting that holds my pain and turns it from being something ugly into something lovely. I can tell a story that takes me away from myself into a world far away from everything I know. I can become someone else, I can be someone who isn’t a mess. I can be someone who is able to be happy when they smile rather than smiling for others.

I use my creativity as an escape to get away from myself.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Creativity Guest Posts

 

81 ThatBuddha

“Writer’s block? I’ve never heard of a plumber complain about plumber’s block.”

— Robert B. Parker

When I think about creativity, I think about that quote. I like that quote. It emphasizes that creativity does require work. There’s something liberating about that idea. For anyone who has ever said, “I’m just not creative” — well, you are. We all are. But it it does take a little effort.

Maybe you don’t want to do the work. Okay. Maybe you see it as a calling, a thing that must be expressed, never denied, lest it consume you. Right on. That must feel interesting too.

For me, it’s just a thing I do. It takes practice. But I know if I can get myself to focus for a couple of minutes, I will always surprise myself. Five minutes ago I felt like I had nothing. But I sat down and started writing and here we go.

I don’t think it can be defined. I don’t think there’s anything definite about it. I think about it like a flow. Sometimes the flow isn’t happening. Sometimes you produce garbage. That’s okay too. Nothing stops the creative process faster than the unwillingness to write badly.

Everybody has their own way. Some like to plan it all out in advance. I don’t know how they do that. I like to be surprised. I like to jam with it. I don’t have to know where it’s going. I just have to be there to let it happen.

I think of it as a wave on the ocean. Sometimes the wave isn’t there and I have to wait. Sometimes it hits so fast and hard that I can’t catch it. But when it’s right, I just try to stay on it as long as I can.

John Hughes wrote “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” in a weekend. That’s a good wave. But again, that takes practice. You can’t catch a wave from the cabana, so Parker’s right too. You gotta get out there.

Find your own metaphor. Find what works for you. Create the kind of thing you enjoy most. There’s no right or wrong. There’s no life or death hanging in the balance. If you do nothing, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Personally, writing is something that always makes me feel better. I’m happier when I’m writing. I’m happier knowing that today I got to have that moment where I sat down with nothing and got up with something. That moment where the characters are writing themselves? I love that.

So when I can, I show up, flow with it and see what happens. Good or bad, I’ll feel better than I did before. I’ll know I did something. And maybe someone got a chuckle out of it.

That’s a good feeling, man. There’s not a lot in life that feels that good. This is one of those things. So get out there and surprise yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

@ThatBuddha

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2013 in Creativity Guest Posts

 

80 Starla Huchton

Creating for Yourself Instead of Your Clients

Maven

Maven (The Endure Series, book 1), by S.A. Huchton
Release Date: June 3, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, this is a big day for me. I’ve been building up to this for a few months and now that it’s finally here… Well, it’s hard to really express exactly what’s going on in my head. Today, the cover for book 1 in my brand new series is being revealed to the world.

Frankly, it’s terrifying. How are people going to react? What if they hate it? And, worse, what if no one cares enough to look?

I’m sure everyone feels this way when they put a new creation out in the world. Artists (and by that I’m including all producers of creative works) put their hearts out there when they share a new Thing They Did. We all want these Things to be well-received. At the least, even a negative reaction can be a positive. It means you did something that elicited some sort of response. Someone looked.

Today is like that for me, only this is a little different than what many authors may experience on cover reveal day. Most of them don’t design covers, especially not in a professional capacity. Yes, these images are representatives of the words contained in that package, but if it’s not well-liked they can point to someone else and say “THAT GUY’S FAULT”. Me? I can’t do that, because, in this case, I’m the cover designer.

If you didn’t know, designing book covers is what I do. Usually, this is for other people. Yes, that’s still my art going out into the world, but I have zero control of what happens to it after that and I’m not accountable for the story contents. There’s a disconnect in ownership after I release a client’s cover. That image becomes their herald, not mine. Not to say that I don’t do every job to the best of my ability, but, quite often, once the job is done, it’s done. I move on to the next one. You know. Work.

Designing a cover for yourself is so much more personal. In many ways, I will always be my own biggest critic and this cover speaks to that. The hours I sunk into searching through stock photos to find the exact model I wanted… you don’t want to know. As the author, I knew very specifically what I was looking for as far as representation went. The character featured on my cover has been a fixture in my head for years. I know her extremely well. In many ways, being the author makes my job as a designer harder because of that intimate knowledge. I finally had to “settle” for the most similar person I could find. I tell this to my clients all the time: we’re looking for representative, not literal depictions. Swallowing that bit of reality was painful, but at least now my clients can rest assured that I know how tough it is to take. It’s hard to listen to your own advice!

Another difference in designing for myself versus for others is the time I could take with the project. I don’t rush any job, but I had months to sit on this image, to tweak it during downtime, to scrutinize every last pixel. It was probably fine when I “finished” it the first time, but, like they say, art is never finished, only abandoned. I had to force myself to stop before I ruined it. Seriously. This cover is live now and I’m fighting myself to not open it in Photoshop again.

So, I’m sure I’ll go through this anxiety all over again when Maven goes live on June 3rd. Probably worse, actually. It’s the first long-form fiction I’ve released since The Dreamer’s Thread podcast in 2009. Will others see the change and growth in my writing? I certainly hope so. After four years, I think I’ve learned a thing or two!

Above all else, though, I hope people look.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Description of Maven:

How far would you go for love?

Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet. 

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Creativity Guest Posts

 

79 Jake Bible

New Paradigms in Publishing: Creativity from the Business End of Books

So, I am a writer.

I have no problem saying that. I know many creative types that hold back on calling themselves “writers”, “painters”, “sculptors”, etc. Why? Because they may not make a living at it. And we are defined by how we make a living, right?

Wrong.

We define ourselves. And even though I have a day job that pays the bills (almost), I define myself as a writer because that is what I do. I write. I create. I put words on the screen and that turns into paper books and ebooks that I sell. Can I support my family that way? No. But Van Gough couldn’t support himself with his painting alone and he is called a painter. I write therefore I am. Or something like that.

But, beyond the defining name of writer, I am also a businessman. An entrepreneur, if you will. I make half my income from my writing. That’s a pretty big deal. I have always, for most of my life, looked for the perfect small business to start. I’ve had a vegetarian jerky company (true story, tasty jerky), I have been an independent sales rep, and I have a massage school degree. But it wasn’t until writing happened for me did I find my business niche.

Who knew being creative would actually pay off?

The thing is, with writing as a business, is that there is no manual or plan that leads to success. Is there with other businesses? To a certain degree, yes. If you open a café in a good location, with a good menu, and good prices, and good marketing (and work your ass off) then you will have good success. With writing, though, you can have a great novel at a great price and have great marketing, but it can still flounder. Why?

Nobody knows.

That’s the thing about publishing, which is really the business I am in, no one has a freaking clue what will sell and what won’t.

This is why I have opened my writing career up to my fans and readers and I’m asking them to choose my next novel. (You can read all about it here). Since no one, from massive multinational publishing megagiant to little ole self-publisher, knows what will be a hit and what will be a miss I realized that I needed to go to the source. I had to ask the readers what they wanted instead of writing my next novel and forcing it on them in the hopes it is exactly what they are looking for.

What I’m doing isn’t so revolutionary. Many industries have focus groups after focus groups and take poll after poll to see what their customers want. You think Taco Bell just happened to throw the Doritos Taco up on the menu for shits and giggles? No way, Jose. They market tested that puppy before the first one was even wrapped and handed to a salivating code monkey. But, for a writer to hand over the direction of their next project to the readers? Crazy mad!

Or is it?

Why wouldn’t I ask? Why would I waste a couple months on a novel that only a small percentage of my fans want to read? Why go to all the expense of publishing something that may or may not sell? Isn’t that really madness?

Why gamble?

Ah, there is the key. Gambling. It is well known in publishing that you aren’t in the book business. You are in the gambling business. And I don’t gamble. My game of choice? Poker. That’s not gambling. Not when you know how to play. I hate gambling. It’s a waste of time and money. I want to know I have at least some control over the outcome. Random throw of the dice? Watching a ball spin, spin, spin until it stops on whatever number/color it stops on? Pull a lever and pray? Come on 21? Nope, not for me.

Does my novel experiment have risks? Sure. Everything does. There are no sure things in life. If you are told otherwise then you are being lied to. No such thing as sure things. Chaos rules existence and always will. But I fancy myself a chaos surfer. I like to hop in and see where I end up. That is why I have taken the risk of handing my creative direction to hundreds of people I may or may not even know. Most of them I do not know. They are total strangers.

But they are readers, fans, customers.

Is the customer always right? No, of course not. But they are the ones with the dollars in hand and how they spend those dollars, that process of exchanging money for goods, is always right. I’m just hoping the customers’s/fans’s/readers’s choice of my next novel matches their desire to exchange money for the goods.

If it doesn’t  Well then it was a good experiment and I’m just right back where I started. Just hanging out with all the writers, publishers, agents, book industry folks, waiting to see what novel hits the wall and sticks. Either way I am cool.

Why?

Because I’m a writer. And I’ll still get to write. And that is what matters.

 

Editors note added on May 5, 2013~

Jake’s readers and fans have selected his next novel and you can pre-order it HERE.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Creativity Guest Posts

 

78 Katharina Maimer Bordet

The Many Ways of Creativity or Procrastinating in Circles


There are countless ways to be creative. The problem is though, that there are even more ways to procrastinate. Not being creative is sometimes easier than being creative. And once you try to do one thing, hundreds of ideas come flooding into your brain – for something completely different. To illustrate it better, I will write throughout this text where I take a break to do something else creative. Like I’m about to do, halfway through this very paragraph.


** Written 2K of a short story. **


In this way, I can somehow trick myself and my creativity. I remember at university, when I had to study a lot, I would always excuse myself to clean my flat. It was the only thing I could do that would shut up the guilt-devil when I didn‘t want to study. When I did NaNoWriMo in 2010, I was only working a few hours a week because I had to study for my last big exam. Needless to say that starting NaNo could have been seen as the worst idea ever. On the contrary, for me it worked splendidly. When I didn‘t want to write anymore, I went to study because that didn‘t make me feel guilty. When I was sick of studying, I sat down to write; after all, I wanted to win NaNo too and I had a daily word count to achieve. After a short while I had spiralled myself into a procrastinating perpetual motion machine. In trying to procrastinate from one thing, the only other thing I could do brought me forward as well. So I wasn‘t procrastinating at all anymore, my guilt had been satisfied and I won NaNo and passed my exam.


** Written 500 words for a paper on Intellectual Property Law ***


Needless to say that I do not possess the longest attention span in the world. I am what everyone said Generation Y would grow up to be… at least to some degree. But that is the problem. Between checking one‘s Twitter feed every 5 minutes and twitching at the sound of a new email, it is sometimes hard to be creative. That does not mean it‘s not possible. If it hits me, I can write a couple of thousand words in one go, which usually results in a low where I have to watch a few episodes of TV to charge my batteries. Sometimes I just need a break. The good news is: a break can also consist of doing something else productive. What defines productive is up to you. Whatever makes you feel productive or has an actual result. And as John Lennon once said, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted”. Now, my brain jumping around between 300 things has actually led to defending procrastination. Super. The point I was trying to make was that creativity and productivity can mean something different for everyone. Some people just want to be creative, some just productive. And some greedy buggers, and I count myself proudly as one of them, want it all. Creative and productive. With a sprinkle of genius.


*** Knitting for two hours ***


Creativity can sometimes work just the same for me. When I‘m sitting in front of a blank piece of paper and I just don‘t get the inspiration, I start cooking. Or I take my camera and go on a photo safari in my neighbourhood. Sometimes it takes nature or the people around you to get inspired. For some people, it helps to watch, look at or read works by other creative people. Luckily, the internet can provide a huge amount of inspiration from creative people. The problem about it is the same thing though. Sometimes it is just too much. I hang around in my usual places online, and unless I actively go out to search for something, I would be inspired by the same people over and over again.

This is why you need to go out. Nature, streets, museums, shops. If you run out of ideas, sometimes just broadening your horizon helps. Look into things you never thought about, have never seen or never knew. Creativity might just find you there.


*** Written 600 words on my doctoral thesis ***


In the short story podcast that I‘m hosting and producing with
Mick BordetEvery Photo Tells…– we try to find inspiration for stories in photographs. Each month we put out a new photo and give the listeners a month to write storied inspired by them. That is the gist of it, but in reality, it goes deeper. All of the photos are also taken by one of us and we have been together when most of them were taken. It started off with us roaming through old photographs for those which could inspire a story. After a while though, we found the photos we had already taken were sometimes a bit too… slick to provoke a story. Now we have changed our point of view. Whenever we are out and about and there is a camera, we are also on the lookout for new EPT photos. Different angles and things that we wouldn‘t have thought about taking a photo of, had it only been for our personal photo album. Like the duck on the wooden plank, which attracted the biggest number and widest range of stories so far.

Go out and look for the duck on the plank, you might find something you never expected.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Creativity Guest Posts

 

77 Lance Schonberg

Dancing With The Dark Side

There are far more ways to express yourself through art or craft or science than there are people. I’d go so far as to say that everyone is creative in some way. It’s something inherent in human nature, though not everyone allows that part of themselves to peak at the outside world, and only a few of us allow our creativity anything approaching free rein. Still, whether we consider ourselves creative or not, we all think of creativity as one of the most positive traits someone can possess.

So why do we have a cultural cliché in the tortured artist? Why do we feel on some level that we have to suffer or sacrifice for our art?

If creativity is a mostly positive thing it also has its issues, moments that threaten the act of creation and sometimes your life beyond it.

Creativity has a dark side.


The Next Project

You’re in the middle of a project you love—a novel, a screenplay, a painting—something fun, exciting, and going very well. Creative energy burns through you, desperate to be turned loose, impossible to contain. A new idea sprouts in the back of your mind, something you can look forward to doing when you’ve finished. It’s new, it’s exciting, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

It’s the Next Project, and it isn’t content to wait in the back of your mind until you can give it the attention it deserves. The Next Project considers the Current Project competition, and it will demand more and more of your mental attention until you reach the point where you’d rather abandon the Current Project and start on the Next Project.

I’ve written 1/3 to 1/2 of at least five novels, and I don’t know how many short stories, this way. Yes, I have every intention of getting back to each of them someday, but there will always be a Next Project to distract me and as each abandoned story falls farther into the past it also falls farther down the priority list.

But I’ve found a way to counter this dark side manoeuvre, to scratch the mental itch. And it seems so obvious, so absurdly easy, I’d like to smack myself in the back of the head for not thinking of it years sooner.

Work on the Next Project, but only a little teeny bit, or in a way that makes it different, or both. Spend ten or fifteen minutes a day on the new thing. Maybe with a pencil and paper instead of the keyboard. Slower, yes, but it lets you keep your focus on the primary project at the same time.

The best of both worlds? Always up for debate, but it helps.


No Means, Well, Um…

Okay, so maybe you can work on more than one project at a time. Lots of people can and do. Variety is nice, but just how many major projects can you have going at the same time and still make any real headway on any of them? It’s easy to take on too much. Believe me, I know.

And it isn’t always self-inflicted. Sometimes people come to you. You may have discovered this law of nature in your day job, but it crops up in the creative world, too: the reward for good work is more work.

Someone really liked a story of yours they read in an anthology last year so asks you to submit to theirs. That voice work you did in your cousin’s podcast was great—and could you do this major character in my thirty-episode audio drama? The blanket you knitted for the new baby next door was beautiful. My sister’s having triplets…would you mind?

And sometimes it’s got nothing to do with you. The universe is sneaky and underhanded, and it will throw things at you to suck up all of the time you thought you had. Voilà! You’re overcommitted. And there are deadlines, and you fall behind, and your stress level goes up…

When you get a new idea, it’s easy to give it some time to see where it takes you. When someone comes to you to ask for your creative help, it’s easy to say yes. It feels good on both counts: getting things done and doing things for other people.

But when you’ve taken on so much that you can’t get anything done, whatever the reason and whether or not there are deadlines attached, you’ve got a problem: you can’t get anything done. For someone who needs to be creative in some way, this is nothing short of torture.

There’s a deceptively simple solution. Be honest. Both to yourself and to the people you’ve already committed something to. Prioritize and explain those priorities. And don’t be afraid to admit that the universe has thrown you a series of curve balls. Be as open as you feel you can be.

And if someone asks you to do something that really excites you, don’t say no, at least not outright. Ask them to ask you again in a few months, if the offer is still open, or drop them a quick line when you’ve caught up a little.

Honesty is still the best policy. It’s not always the easiest though, even with yourself.


Stealing Time

You’ll run across the advice sometimes that you should steal time from other parts of your life to pursue the creative endeavours that are so important to you. Take the laptop to bed with you, take a notebook to your daughter’s soccer game or your son’s karate lesson, and your boss certainly won’t mind if you do a little of your own thing on company time. Steal the minutes wherever you can and be as productive as you can with them.

Creativity’s dark side is whispering directly into your soul. There’s a huge difference between making time and stealing time.

Suffering a little for your art—giving up a few hours a week of TV or video games, or that thing you used to really love doing on Saturday morning that’s now far more like a chore than something fun, anyway—can improve your art, or at least the value and focus you place on it. Making other people suffer for your art just makes you a jerk, especially if those other people are your family and actually like having you around.

This is a hard lesson. The real world is very important.


Without Darkness, There Can Be No Light

Which isn’t the same as saying you should wallow in the darkness looking for a spark to clear it all away. You don’t need to succumb to the dark side to learn how to defeat it. You only need to watch out for the potential pitfalls your passion to create can lead you to.

Each of these things I’ve had to learn the hard way, and I’ve had to relearn them, too. More than once, and I’m probably not done with the lessons yet. There’s always more to learn, and more to create.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Creativity Guest Posts

 

76 Dave Robison

Dreamhand

{Click on “Dreamhand” to hear Dave read this wonderful poem}

 

Gather ‘round me children I wanna tease you with a rhyme.
I wanna play a guessing game with you if you can spare the time.

We’ve been together you and I for quite a while now.
It’s time I introduced myself. It’s time I showed you how
The two of us can shake this world like a thunderstick
Full of storms and dreams and wonderthings.

I’m the Dream Hand
I’m the wordsmith,
The dream-maker,
I’m the the silver-tongued soul shaker
I’m the music between the song
I’m the poem in the words
I’m the touch that turns to passion
I’m the bite that makes you burn

And you made me.

Wanna know how?

My genesis was in the moment you opened your eyes
And felt the need
Felt the limit
Felt the line
between what you are
and what you can be.

In that heartbreaking moment of false revelation
My hand began to reach from the womb of your mind,
And when you reached out and loved something for the very first time
I was born.

You made me.

Wanna know why?

Did you ever wonder why you want something?
Did you ever wonder why you love?
It’s because there’s a part of you spinning in that thing
A part of you singing in that song
Sparkling in that jewel.

I’m your eyes that see that shimmer
I’m your ears that hear that song
And I’m the hand you use to bring it back to you.

Next time you read some words that send a shiver through your soul
Next time you taste a perfect peach and feel the juice of every summer trickle across your tongue
Next time you say the perfect thing
Next time you just can’t help yourself

Next time you feel
The Shiver
The Fire
The Chill
The Desire
The Wow!
The Yes!
The Now
The Bliss
Of living in this world we made,
Baby… I’ll be there.

If you want me, then shut your eyes and look around
Close your ears and listen
Tie your hands behind your back and try and feel for me
And I’ll be there!

I’m the Dream Hand!
I’m the treasure chest that’s never been opened
I’m the key to every lock
I’m the spark that lights the kindling
I’m the shiver I’m the shock

LISTEN TO ME CHILDREN!
I’M THE POWER OF YOUR DREAMS!

When you reach out to touch that precious thing you can’t believe is real,
You’re reaching with the Dream Hand,
Plucking sweet fruit from the indigo tree.

I’m your palette
I’m your brush
I’m every color, every sound
Every shadow, every blaze
I’m every sparkle shimmer wonderthing you’ve ever wanted.

I have no limits
None
I span the length and breadth and height and depth
And STILL my reach sustains.

What about you?

Is there something you can’t do, something you can’t see?
Is there a treasure you don’t have?
Is there something you wanna be?

Well, child of the here and now, have I got news for you!
I’m waiting just behind your eyes.
Let’s take a walk and fantasize.
Pack your bags, then leave ‘em behind…
That baggage will just slow us down.

One more thing and then I’m through.
Here’s my solemn oath to you:

I’ll help you fix that broken line.
Whatever you’ve lost, I’ll help you find.
Those dreams you thought were out of reach,
I’ll be the bridge; I’ll mend the breach
Between your hand
And those parts of your soul you see spinning in the sky of tomorrow.

Well…

Tomorrow’s now, baby.

Lemme lend you a hand.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Creativity Guest Posts