10 expert tips on creativity rituals

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Motivation can be tough to find when you’re stuck on a creative roadblock, or afraid to move on from a project that’s not perfect.

Here are a few quotes from some of my favourite creative people.

Maybe they can help you finish the work, put it out, and move on:

1. Ira Glass on prolific creation.

“Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through”

2. Twyla Tharp on creative rituals.

In her book, The Creative Habit, Twyla talks about how she wakes up early every day to hit the gym before she dances. She says the biggest step to the ritual isn’t the gym, it’s calling the cab.

“The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put into my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab.”

Small rituals seem insignificant until you compound them overtime.

3. Austin Kleon on sharing your work.

“Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”

4. Maya Angelou on knowing when the work is done.

“One of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, “No. No, I’m finished. Bye.” And leaving it alone. I will not write it into the ground. I will not write the life out of it. I won’t do that.”


How many times a week do you dedicate to making the art you love making?

Set a time to sit down and do it. Make creativity a habit, not a thing dependent on capricious inspiration.

 

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Writer’s training exercise: listening, observing, eavesdropping

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A writer has to read, research and listen twice as much as the non-writer. It’s the same with athletes training for the Olympics—they have to eat twice as much as the person who isn’t training for the Olympics. You get what you give, you are what you eat, you write what you know. If you want to write a brilliant post-modern novel that changes the world of fiction forever, if you want to write a script that one-ups Diablo Cody, then you need to do your 3-step writer’s training:

  1. Listening. Count how many times in a day you start your sentences with “I.” Cut that in half tomorrow, and instead, ask about others more. Ask them what they think about existentialism. Ask them if they put sugar in their coffee. Learn about someone else’s human experience and get outside of your own.
  2. Observing. Pay attention to how your cashier greets you. Notice the expression on the parking ticket monitor’s face. Watch squirrels chase each other on a fence. Look around at the other passengers on the bus. Get off of your phone, put down your book for a second, and see what’s around you.
  3. Eavesdropping. This one seems questionable, but it’s totally innocent if you’re just finding inspiration. Compelling stories and characters are all around you. Here’s a tip: busy bars, cafés, clubs, and malls are full of people who aren’t paying attention to who is listening. Don’t do this in quiet venues, such as restaurants where there are only two tables taken. You will look suspicious with your notepad at this point.

Drinking boosts your creativity: fact or fiction?

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Writers are guilty of indulging liquid stimulants to get inspiration flowing.  Brewing cup of joe, uncorking a bottle of wine, glugging tea, chugging aloe vera juice, sniffing a jug of glue, lighting candles and dipping your fingers in the wax and screaming “oh my gosh that hurts!” Admit it. You’re doing it on the daily.

Before you sip and sniff until you topple over and lose your job, let’s look at a few findings from experiments done by science-y types (click on the link to grab the articles/research):

  1. Coffee keeps you focused, but distraction inspires divergent thinking. Do your brainstorming first, get all your potentials on paper, and when you’ve decided on an idea, then grab a coffee. It’ll help you see that idea through.
  2. Drinking a glass of wine might help you solve a problem in a creative way, but it may inhibit your divergent thinking. That means your drunkenness is going to tank in the group brainstorm. Be moderate with the rosé—make a date with your fellow creative pal to grab a beer the day after.
  3. Aloe vera juice has no researched benefits to creativity. Drink it if you want frequent bowel movements. It’s a strong laxative.
  4. Dipping your fingers in hot wax is nothing but painful. I was joking. Don’t do this.

That’s the tidbit of the day, folks. Be mindful of what you put in your mouth.

coffeegirl

Creative Challenge of the Week: fill-in-the-blanks prompts and Mad Libs

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Fear of writing and performing comedy is a real thing. For some reason, drama and tragedy seem more approachable.

Maybe it’s because the things that make people distraught is a little more obvious: cancer, death, WiFi problems, war, infidelity, root canals, that moment when the Starbucks barista spells your name wrong, and then you worry that you have a terrible lisp or something.

Today, I want you to kick your fear of comedy in the shins. Today, you are the host of SNL, and SNL is your life, except SNL has become a fill-in-the-blanks prompt show.

Why prompts? Because, when you’re just starting out, it’s intimidating coming up with something funny without some sort of rule or format.

In honour of World Poetry Day, I’ve created some prompts for you. A few lines from serious, famous poems.

Make light of them. Get ridiculous. You’ve got nothing to lose.

  1. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the _________.
  2. I am the master of my _________: I am the captain of my soul.
  3. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the ____________.
  4. Shall I compare thee to a _________? Thou art more ________ and more _________:
  5. OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL ________! You’ll be on your way up!

Comment with your best ones and the winner gets bragging rights!

 

 

Quarter life crisis and adulthood epiphanies

Doodle and Drabble

Mid-life crises are common knowledge:

Dad gets a receding hairline, so he buys a red Ferrari.

Mum gets night sweats because of menopause, so she buys two tickets for you and her to go to Osheaga together.

What we don’t talk about, at least not in my social circles, is the ever-obtuse quarter-life crisis.

As far as pop culture goes, I can only remember listening to the word once in a line from the John Mayer song—Why Georgia.

I rent a room and I fill the spaces with/Wood in places to make it feel like home/But all I feel’s alone/It might be a quarter life crisis/Or just the stirring in my soul/Either way, I wonder sometimes/About the outcome/Of a still verdictless life/Am I living it right?

Advertisers and columnists call it a millennial problem. Rising real estate costs, the changing economy, and time-sucking social media might have something to do with it.

Maybe it’s something that happens to those of us who get into high-stakes post-secondary educational institutions where the due dates are abundant and the time for reflection is scarce.

I consider this, as I look at the stacks of self-help books lining my bookshelves, the business mogul and life coach series’ downloading onto my podcast library.

All of this knowledge about how to master self-awareness, careers, passion, and purpose. Yet, here I am—fluffy blanket pulled over my head, practicing yogic dragon breathing and trying to stay calm about the fact that my 24th Birthday is coming in two months.

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The thing is, crisis is such a strong word.

As a person who knows how powerful words can be, how swiftly the right narrative can change a person’s behaviour, I have the impulse to eschew the quarter-life crisis term from my dictionary.

I want to call it my “big transition,” or the “springboard into my greatest venture.”

Because feelings are relative, aren’t they? Fourteen-year-olds who are stressed about their pubic hair coming in could be deemed victims of the 1/7th life crisis, but that’d be ridiculous.

Elderly people deserve a crisis term of their own more than I deserve one.

They’re the ones snapping knee bones in half after slipping on the sidewalk, after all.

Whatever the case may be, I hope I’ll take all of this pent up uncertainty and use it as fuel for something, anything.

And if you’re feeling what I’m feeling, well, my fellow creatives, then I hope we can meet for coffee when we’re thirty and talk about how ridiculous we were at 25.