Ideas on How to Get Creating…

The Writing Prompt Notebook
I’ve periodically taken to writing prompts or ideas on sticky notes and sticking them in my design notebook…but it’s rare anything actually happens with them. I tell myself it’s because I’m really trying to stay focused on Gemma Regina, but I’m honestly just not getting around to any of it.

But what if I did? What if all of the writing prompts I’ve collected over the years and all of the ideas I’ve generated over the years were on sticky notes…in a larger notebook than the one I currently carry around (which wouldn’t fit into my bag)? The immediate benefit is having the prompt right there in a writing space (since I’m more of a handwriter than a typist). And I could group ideas together if I wanted to weave them into the same story. I could add in more notes and thoughts as I explored groups of ideas…or a single idea for that matter. I could even move notes around to make room for works in progress…and it would be far easier to move unused notes into new notebooks as old notebooks ran out of pages.

It’s so tempting, and yet there’s a part of me that’s so certain I’d never actually get anywhere with it which is probably also what’s holding up…

The Inspiration Notebook
Part mood board, part dreams, part therapy. I have slowly started this project in a sense. I’ve been gathering images and such that appeal to me. Originally, I was going to post them into this old notebook that used to be my exploring notebook (before I became a hermit). They’re even grouped into pages and partial storylines.

Over the last month or so, as I’ve wrestled with various professional and personal woes, I started thinking about it in a different light. Along with collecting things that appeal to me, it could be an exploration of where I wish I was. Most motivation and therapy programs say that if you have a visualization of what you want, you’ll get there. It’s never actually worked for me, but I’ve thought about having fun with it and turning it into a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure activity. Pull in everything I have, but have some means (I was thinking appealing color swatches) to mark crossroads and paths taken or lost. Effectively, creating this bizarre little Mary Sue and enjoying building her world.

I don’t know…sounds stupid when you say it out loud, really. Could be fun, though. Maybe?

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Let Children Be

I worry about the kids I work with. Some of them have a schedule so packed with sports or outside classes that they can’t find a moment to or do their homework or study for tests…or relax. And it shows not only in their academic lives, but in their personal lives as well.  I’m constantly telling my overextended test prep kids to relax, especially in the days leading up to the test, if for no other reason than to keep them from choking on a test they’re otherwise capable of dealing with…and they all look at me like I’ve lost my mind. They’re really too young to be feeling that pressure.

In filling a child’s schedule with all of these activities, we’re really robbing them of the time to be kids. They get no time to just play, and so they don’t learn the skills that come along with play- creative thinking, storytelling, social skills, problem solving. They don’t get to have the experiences and form the memories that will shape and inform their adulthood. I’d even argue that they lose the opportunity to develop empathy because they don’t experience what it means to simply be at a time in their life when they’re learning what life is.

So many creativity and career change blogs advocate reconnecting with childhood to fuel and inspire your work…but if there really wasn’t much of a childhood, what fuel is going to be there to inspire your work?

The Nose Apparently Does Know

You know how sometimes you want to do something, but you have no idea what you want to do, so you just kind of go along and see what happens.

Yeah…I wanted to light a candle, but didn’t know what scent I wanted to smell. So I sniffed each of my oils (I have a pretty small collection) and picked lilac. When I looked up its supposed symbolism, I found that it was thought to promote creativity.

I haven’t been able to sit down and do anything remotely creative, especially over the last few days. No inspiration. No motivation. No desire. Nothing. I have an outline waiting to become a novel, a pile of post-it notes waiting to become an activity book, half a dozen potential blog posts waiting to be written, two videos waiting to be made, a story to critique (but the author seems to be a strong believer in this, and I definitely don’t feel this way about this story).

Anyone else see a problem here. Something in me wants to be creative. Something in me is too lost to do anything.

I’m tired of feeling lost, but I feel like every time I try to get myself unstuck, I become even more lost. I don’t know how to break the cycle.

Other People Are More Interesting

I wanted to post this yesterday, but apparently the universe needs me to not be near my computer this week. (I tried to upgrade Shigure’s OS yesterday…which failed. Then the network was being stupid this morning. So, I’m spending as much time as the universe will let me catching up on email, my feed reader, and whatever other trouble I can come up with.)

I’m trying to stop being afraid of living. It’s kind of a secret goal of mine for the year. I’m trying to figure out who I am, what I feel I’m missing from my life, what got dropped from my life that I really enjoyed and now miss.

But listening to other people is often interesting, inspiring, and motivating (plus you get to learn something really cool), so I’m posing a question. You can answer in a comment on this post. You can PM your answer to me. You can IM me. You can email me. Whatever.

The question is: What is something you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t?

After I’ve heard from a few people, I’ll share mine, because I was thinking about it when I couldn’t sleep the other night, and the answers were kind of surprising to me.

The Comfort of a Design Notebook

A couple of months ago, I bought myself a recycled sketchpad with the intent of turning it into a design notebook and the knowledge the notebook would lie around blank (as so many notebooks do in my purple cave).

Then I started sketching out a plan for redesigning the other website. Then I started writing notes and to-do lists to myself to get everything organized. Then I started playing with paint chips and colored pencils. I think I’ve even done a little character analysis, with my own characters and with someone else’s characters, in there.

It’s become this interesting mixtures of text, images, and colors. It’s got its own little color coding going on so if I’m trying to find notes on a specific topic, I can. I think some of my self-exploration activities have landed in there.

The notebook lives right beside my desk, right under a pencil case that contains colored pencils, mechanical pencils, and a small ruler, and it gets pulled out often. If I’m not just thumbing through it, then I’m drawing out pieces of a room design I’d love to put together. I’m creating word clouds. I’m gluing in paint chips and then writing abstractly about how the colors work for me.

What started out with the intention of being a notebook that would only contain images and explanations of those images now is home to notes on topics for Dead Bunny, home to me thinking out loud in text and color. There are no boundaries on it, and that in turn removes the boundaries from my thinking processes.

Why Reality Television is Bad

While I was sick, I did something fairly out of character. I eschewed my beloved cartoons for reality television. Seriously. I got hooked on Top Design.

If you’ve never seen Top Design, it’s about a series of interior designers and architects (I think they said one of them had a background in something else, too) competing to create the best design for each episode’s challenge. Sometimes, they worked in teams. One time, they worked as one big team. Sometimes, they worked alone on their own designs.

It was interesting to see how each person approached each challenge. To see how they approached working as a creative team. To hear how they talked about their work.

Somewhere in the middle of watching the last several episodes over and over again, I planned out my room redesign in my head and went hunting for the blank sketchbook I bought with the intention of working on attempts at sketching out Writer’s Block. The sketch book is still blank, but at least it’s now in my bag along with a pouch full of colored pencils. Maybe I’ll actually start designing again!

I’ve known for a while that I’ve been struggling with inspiration issues. Where I used to re-design in my head every single room I walked into, I now just ignore the room altogether. I need to break myself of that habit. I need to stat playing with the space around me again. I need to just randomly pull out my wire and beads and design some jewelry (I owe my best friend a piece or two, so it’s the perfect excuse…along with the tens of sketched out designs in my jewelry notebook). I just need to get back into the design frame of mind again.

Who knew something good could come from watching a reality television show?

Action vs. Inspiration

“We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”- Frank Tibolt

I’ve been wrestling with issues of motivation for about a month now. The list of projects is growing to an unhealthy level, and I’m just not in the mood to do any of it. It’s finally reached a point where my weekends are spent in the company of an “I’ve accomplished” list in place of my “To-Do” list. It worked last weekend. I’ve tried to not implement it this weekend.

I came across this quote last week while suffering a real drop in motivation, and it bothered me. I find that a little inspiration can motivate me to accomplish three days of work in a single day. Action produces inspiration and innovation on the projects I’m focused on, occasionally permitting flashes on other projects.

As far I’m concerned, action and inspiration are parts of the same cycle. One does not beget the other exclusively. It just doesn’t work that way. As a teacher, I understand the concept of putting something frustrating aside to work on something else. It often allows the learner to come back after processing what they’ve learned and face the concept with a renewed amount of patience and tackle it more successfully. But I don’t think inspiration requires action to be created.

Again, I can only speak for my own creative cycles and my observations of my students. Your own experiences may vary wildly.

Inspiration By Color

It’s not unusual for an idea, a concept, a project to grip your imagination so tightly that you can’t do much else until you create with it. But how many tines have you had the same problem with a color or a color combination?

I’ve long suffered from being haunted by color combinations. I can’t explain it, but it’s not unusual for a color or color combination to try to infiltrate every fiber of my being. It tries to come out in my wardrobe, my decorating, my design work. It’s crazy!

For a while, I was releasing my inner color demons by finding the right colors in embroidery floss and creating macramé bookmarks, just to have the combination somewhere nearby until the infatuation had run its course.

How about you? Have you ever been stalked by a color or color combination? How do you deal with it?

Sudden Flashes of Inspiration

I’m sure we’ve all been there. A sudden inspiration flashes through your brain, and you act on it immediately to keep it from escaping. I do it frequently at work, much to the amusement of my colleagues and my students. Without warning, I’ll suddenly snag a pad of post-it notes and a pencil and scribble something down. I’ll stick on whatever book I’m currently reading, bring it home, and stick it on my idea-generation bulletin board.

My friends are not quite as used to it, especially when I’m chatting online with them. It is somewhat unusual for me to go silent without an explanation during a chat session, so they’ll often ask me what I’m doing. Sometimes, this is a bad thing as I have to admit that I’m writing down ideas for five different fan fics so I could wade through them later. My friends are pretty tolerant and often amused by my responses, but I don’t think one of my friends was at all prepared for the response he got last night.

We’d both been sitting there quietly, so it seemed a bit odd when he asked what I was doing. I had just taken two bracelets given to me by someone who rubs me the wrong way and grouped them into a series of pieces that should be very fun to design and build! (I actually just spaced out for three minutes designing two of the pieces…oops!) I can only hope the silence on his end was him laughing at Rebecca’s craziness.

Inspiration…you won’t know when or how it will hit, but that’s what makes it inspiration, right?

Taking Inspiration From Others

This showed up in a recent newsletter on deviantArt:

This week I thought I would change the pace a bit and give you all…an assignment! Of sorts that is. When you look around deviantART, you see, well, art primarily, and you also read some fascinating journals to get insight into the minds of people and what drives them to create the work they create. In the process, you will often times find yourself inspired to go open Photoshop, Word, grab a sketchbook ( you know, those funky things with blank paper inside them ), or whatever your preferred medium and create your own work.

Sometimes the inspiration runs a bit deeper and actually affects how you view your life, the world, or someone else’s life. Sometimes being inspired is a dramatic epiphany, right there in front of you and almost tangible, other times it is more subtle and you may not realize that something was an influence till much later on. Given the amount of potential for these sorts of happenings within this community what I would like to see from you guys is this, tell me a story. Of one specific incident or deviant who has inspired you in some way shape or form. Be as detailed as you would like. You can submit it as whatever form of writing you would like and leave a link to it in this article, or even better you can post it as a comment here on this news article. I will read through each and every one of them and post some of them next week. This isn’t a contest by any means, just a chance to maybe spread some further inspiration to your fellow artists.

While we do strive for inspiration from within ourselves and the world around us, sometimes the best inspiration comes from riffing off another artist (and I can’t tell you how much I love that the word “riff” is expanding to other areas). Done well, it can even be a compliment to the original artist. (Done poorly, it’s a copyright suit waiting to happen!)