November 13, 2014
Do You Know Your Prime Creating Conditions?
On Monday, I had the pleasure of participating in Creative Colony’s Creative Boost series, and presented on Ways to Find Inspiration When You’re Drawing a Blank. I encouraged the audience to look for small and big sources of inspiration that surround us, as well as take note of how their bodies feel when they’re inspired—what type of activities are you doing when you feel inspired, and are you alone or with others? Do you identify as ‘Team Early Bird’ or ‘Team Night Owl?’ In the midst of your daily grind, it’s easy to cycle through your responsibilities on autopilot, so a great way to make your body ‘feel’ something is to step out of your comfort zone –your senses will take you on a roller coaster ride full of new learning opportunities, people and experiences at every turn.
In a past interview about creativity with Daily Routines, Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison shared advice she gives her students:
“I tell my students one of the most important things they need to know is when they are at their best, creatively. They need to ask themselves, What does the ideal room look like? Is there music? Is there silence? Is there chaos outside or is there serenity outside? What do I need in order to release my imagination?”
For Morrison, “Writing before dawn began as a necessity–I had small children when I first began to write and I needed to use the time before they said, Mama–and that was always around five in the morning. Later, while involved in writing Beloved in 1983, I realized that I was clearer-headed, more confident and generally more intelligent in the morning. The habit of getting up early, which I had formed when the children were young, now became my choice. I am not very bright or very witty or very inventive after the sun goes down.”
“I do my best writing between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m… My quota is two crappy pages per day. I will do the gathering of interviews and research throughout the day. I’ll get all my notes and materials together and then I’ll do the synthesis between 10 p.m. to bed, which is usually 4 or 5 a.m. I will have a station on Pandora, and I will put a movie on and mute it in the background so I don’t feel like I’m in isolation. Then I jam. It takes me an hour and a half to get my brain into the flow of doing anything writing related. If things are going well, I’m not going to stop until I nose dive. But if it goes for an hour-and- a-half and it’s like pulling teeth, then it might be time to go to bed.”
During an improv game, we experienced firsthand that there’s an abundance of ideas, and even if we all start with the same concept/idea, collaboration helps ensure that we end up with different results. After discussing internal and external prompts that spark inspiration, we closed with the importance of recording our ideas when they strike because if we don’t, they could all go down the drain.
A few participants shared their creative rituals and feedback:
The next day, I was inspired to step out of my comfort zone and participated in my first intro to ‘locking’ dance class at Urban Artistry. When I showed my moves to my five-year-old , he said I still didn’t look cool, but whatever, I felt ENERGIZED, learned something new and will return!
What’s an activity outside of your comfort zone that YOU want to explore? What are some activities, people or experiences that inspire you and your work?
Tags: 99u.com, breaking out of comfort zones, collaboration, comfort zone, Creative Boost, Creative Colony, Creative Processes, creativity, Daily Routines, Early bird, finding inspiration, Ideas, improv, improv for business professionals, Maryland, musical prompts, Night Owl, Silver Spring, The 4-Hour Work Week, the artfullness project, Tim Ferris, Toni Morrison, Urban Artistry