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Boosting creativity. April 3, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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I saw an article in The Wall Street Journal this morning about tips to boost creativity. I say “saw,” rather than read, because by then I’d had enough of newspapers for one morning and have set it aside to read later. But being creative is what I do every day, so I could certainly relate.

Take yesterday, for example. I needed to write two blog posts (I try to post to both of my blogs every day). And to make matters worse, I realized that I had an article deadline due that day. I had no clue what to say for any of them. In fact, I felt completely brain-dead.

Would my blog readers care if I didn’t post every day? Of course not. It’s probably irritating to see that yet another post has come up on the blog they’re following. Who has time to keep up with this?! Shut up, already! But I find daily posting good discipline. If I can write two essays a day, first thing every day, and be happy with them, it sets a certain tone for my day and, frankly, my life. True, it doesn’t pay me a cent, but it’s good practice for my “real” job, which is writing.

Ditto for the article, which also doesn’t pay, but does give a certain amount of exposure. Maybe they’ll publish it, maybe they won’t. But if they don’t, at least I can use it in one of my blogs!

But getting back to creativity. Here I was a couple of days ago, staring at my computer screen, thinking yikes, I have to write two blog posts and an article today, and I have no ideas. What can I do?!

Often, I find inspiration in the words or actions of others, in the news, in a book I’m reading, in a movie, in an overheard conversation, even in a cartoon. More often, I find inspiration looking out the window, seeing what’s happening in the yard, in the gardens, with the birds, in the world beyond my door. Being able to connect what’s going on outside, or an apt quote or event, or even something from everyday life, with something others might find enlightening or informative or entertaining, is the way I express creativity.

Creativity at its profoundest heart is, for me, simply a means to get people to look at ordinary things in a new and revelatory way. But at its most light-hearted, it’s also a way to entertain, to make people laugh in our so-serious, overstressed age.

So that day, I thought about what was happening in my yard, and I managed to write a blog post and the article with that as a springboard. For Poor Richard’s Almanac, I took my annual cleaning-out of the drawers and closets as a springboard to riff on. Hopefully, they were sufficiently profound (in the first two cases) and sufficiently funny (in the last), and sufficiently original in all three cases. (I loved the one about the tee-shirt wars, that’s my favorite kind of post, but then, I’m easily amused.)

If you’re striving for creativity, I urge you to take the ordinary events in your life and your immediate world and use them as a springboard. I urge you to link them to your thoughts or to other, seemingly unrelated events. Could a broken Crayon relate to a broken heart, a broken family, or a broken state? It’s up to you to decide.

I also urge you to continue learning, growing, keeping up. Connection helps you come up with topics. This doesn’t mean keeping up with the latest technology—after all, we’re Luddites here—but keeping up with what’s happening in your home country, in the world, in the realms of science and art and discovery and medicine and so on. Broad interests and broad reading can promote synchronicity, and synchronicity coupled with wisdom and vision is what creates the best writing and thinking.



1. Lea - April 4, 2013

I always learn something new each time I visit your blog. Today I learned that you have another blog. How do I find it?
Keep up the good work!
Lea’s Menagerie

Thanks, Lea, you’re kindness itself, as always! I never mention my other blog on PRA because it’s so specialized. It would be like announcing on a general-interest blog that you had a second blog on the biology of fruit bats and everyone should rush over and read it. I figure that, if anyone’s actually interested, they’ll Google the topic and find my blog, and if they’re not, ’nuff said.

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