I used to believe that creative work was mysterious.. That coming up with a good idea, finding inspiration, or writing a blog post or book wasn’t something I could plan for, but was something I had to wait to happen to me. I’m not alone in this, either.
There’s a shroud of mystery that surrounds creative work. And I totally get it. Creative ideas can at times appear out of nowhere. And when I’m most in need of creative inspiration, it can be hard to find.
So, is creativity something you can plan for?
Well, the answer is yes and no.
You see, there’s no exact science, formula, or process you can follow to successfully yield creative results 100% of the time. What works for some people doesn’t necessarily work for others.
However, you can teach yourself how to become more creative, learn how to identify good ideas, and even change your surroundings or the place you live to improve your creative work.
This week on The Portfolio Life, Eric Weiner and I talk about why creative work flourishes in certain places today and throughout history. Eric discovered in his research and travels a significant connection between the place you live, your surroundings, and the influence they have on your personal creativity.
Listen in as Eric shares the common elements that not only lead certain places to become more creative, but will also help you to improve your personal creativity.
Madeleine L’Engle wrote in Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art, that “We cannot Name or be Named without language. If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator. When language becomes exhausted, our freedom dwindles – we cannot think; we do not recognize danger; injustice strikes us as no more than ‘the way things are’.”
My stints as long-term English high school substitute would last a semester at a time. I had been doing this since my own children began high school. When my youngest child graduated, and I was contemplating my return the following fall, and the other English department teachers were begging me please, I realized I couldn’t. I had to say enough was enough.
I had a hundred and fifty-six students. The majority were great. But my last class of the day got to me. Too many times the police would come for one or two and take them out in handcuffs, because they had been reported abusing drugs on campus or worse. I called them my “Welcome Back Kotter” class and they didn’t know what I was talking about. (Look it up!)
What struck me the most, I think, was their lack of language. These students grew up in affluent neighborhoods, had all they needed, never went hungry but when anger got the best of them they couldn’t come up with better adjectives than the over-used oldies everyone knows. These unacceptable words punctuated their every other sentence. It’s all they had for adjectives.
I even gave them lists of alternatives.
I handed my students tools on how to memorize grammar rules or spelling rules in order to get by with a wider range of vocabulary, but so many still couldn’t define the difference between an adverb or an adjective. I have to admit I didn’t like grammar in school either. So my attempts at making it fun fell short. Very few showed serious interest, which is normal for high-school kids. School being the waste of space between getting up and partying.
That was six years ago. Recently I saw one of the boys who was one of those removed from school. He delivered my pizza. He didn’t recognize me, and I didn’t set him straight. He was probably too high in class to be able to remember what I looked like.
I see signs in shops all over town with incorrect spelling and incorrect usage of apostrophes.
We have best wing and shrimps
The English language is a morphing language. It changes. It grows. It is alive. Since educating the care-less teens is like pushing a barrow of bricks uphill. My hope is that we can better educate the adults who make signs to strive to be better. Because at least they are trying. I fully support Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson in the quest to change America’s typos. (The Great Typo Hunt) Good for them. While not quite walking on water, they are making waves.
Actually, I should post something about what my blog is all about.
I write. Today my blog is about success with writing. Did I say success? What exactly is that? What success have I had? I’ve had a short story published. I’ve had poetry published. I’ve had newsletter articles, a small story published in a children’s magazine, my artwork published in small and large-scale venues.
However, I measure my success with whether or not my novels have been published or not and they have not been. So I do not consider myself a true success. And even if I have one published, will I be a success if the others are not? Every day I fight the voices real and imagined that harp at me. Why don’t you give up? Don’t worry about it, just stop writing. Give up. Give up. Give up.
No, it isn’t for me to give up. True writers must never give up. Look to those who have gone before, the success stories of writers. Were they successful when trying to publish their manuscripts at first? No. Sometimes it took many years and reams of rejections.
Jack London’s first story was rejected over 500 times.
Stephen King’s novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times, so he threw it in the trash.
27 publishers turned down Dr. Seuss’s first book.
Charles Schultz was turned down for a job by Walt Disney. Schultz later created Peanuts which is still syndicated and in most major newspapers in the USA are using repeats. Because he doesn’t draw them anymore. He’s dead.
So this I say to you who write. True writers must repeat daily that it isn’t the most talented of writers who have novels published. It is the most persistent.