Sometimes it is a struggle to think creatively, find the time to be creative or have materials on hand to produce an item from your creativity. I get that. And it might sound familiar to you too. This is why today’s post from Club Creative Studio has a focus on You. The letter “Y” stands for you today, you and your creative process. When I say I am “Creative Everyday”, I really am. That is my daily process. It may not be in the same manner or with the same materials but, I do recognize that it takes effort sometimes to be productive from creative juices, and I strive to make sure that everyday I do something that I consider to be creative in my workspace: Club Creative Studio.
For those times that you think it is not possible to be creative or hard to get motivated, take to heart some of the considerations from the ideas of Gary Gonzales, in the Leadership Journal, as he writes about Real Ministry in a Complex World. Now I know his subject matter is not an art focus. But, when talking about creativity we can gain some insight to his words and thoughts about the creative process as a whole. He writes about your “creativity quotient” and how to raise the bar in creativity. He believes that a few good habits can improve the quality of your ideas.
“Someone once asked William Barclay how he had become such a prolific writer. The key, he said, is learning to apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair.
Creativity is far less subjective and ethereal than some make it sound. As much a function of our habits as our “genius” or inspiration, creativity takes discipline. Here are four ways to enhance your creativity.
Know your moods
Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying about diet: “Mornings are gold, lunch is bronze, and dinner is lead.” Well, the same applies to personal energy levels. A few months ago, a lay leader handed me a newspaper article outlining the body’s daily rhythms. It underscored how, for most people, mornings provide peak energy and concentration. Quick recall and analytical reasoning are strongest in the a.m.
Conversely, the infamous “afternoon grog,” the inability to focus, hits from 1 to 3 p.m., with a short reprieve from 3 to 4 p.m., especially in recall.
By evening most people are downshifting, except for the late-night geniuses who hit their creative stride from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Knowing this, I safeguard morning hours for the challenges of praying, studying, writing, and creative thinking. I no longer feel guilty when my engines are revving low. I pace myself, husbanding my energy for creative times.
Learned how to improve energy and lessen the negative rhythms
Soon after moving to the Twin Cities from Southern California, I thought about joining a fitness club. But I wondered, With my mornings scheduled full with message preparation and my evenings already overflowing with meetings and programs, how can I realistically expect to add an exercise regimen?
But I had heard others describe how a workout increased their energy level, so I decided to experiment. I discovered that a sixty-minute workout during my lunch hour or after 3 p.m. worked wonders. Regular exercise dramatically increased my endurance, making my low periods less low-and I feel better about myself. As an added bonus, I find thinking and praying easier while on the Nordic Track or between weight-lifting sets.
While getting into shape, I learned another valuable lesson: If I work out on Friday, resting or going easy on Saturday, by Sunday morning I’m primed to preach. A one-day layoff between workouts enables my body to bounce back with renewed vigor. I can’t recall a time in my previous fifteen years of ministry when I’ve been so clear-headed-able to think creatively and spontaneously in the pulpit.
Write it down
Someone has said, “Opportunity is like a horse that gallops up and then pauses for a moment. If you don’t get on, before long you hear the clatter of hoofbeats dying away in the distance.”
Great ideas are just such opportunities.
Whenever you hear, see, or think a worthwhile thought, write it down before another moment passes. Experience has taught me to keep a pen and paper handy on my night stand. That’s also true of the ideas we learn from others. For several years I’ve kept a journal handy at my office. Whenever I come across a good quote, I immediately jot it down and document the source. Often, when I’m stymied while preparing sermons, I thumb through this journal to stimulate ideas.
Others’ ideas provoke my ideas. While paging through my journal recently, I ran across the statement, “Leaders are to be imitated, not gold-plated.” It triggered a thought: I’ve wanted to do a series on leadership for some time. Why not develop a series of seven messages on leadership principles using one-liners as memory hooks?
I’m now reading and gathering ideas, illustrations, and resources on that theme.
Let it simmer
Most creative ideas mature over time. So, whether I’m planning a sermon series, a special holiday service, or a seminar, I arrange my time to give it as much advance thought as possible. My mind works best when I’m not clawing for ideas at the last-minute.
I don’t get over structured too early. A good idea has a ripple effect, soon suggesting other ideas or applications. At first, all I want to do is grasp the big picture-even if only a piece of it.
Useful ideas sometimes come to me after months of simmering.
Several years ago, I heard the story of Larry Walters, a 33-year-old man who decided he wanted to see his neighborhood from a new perspective. He went down to the local army surplus store one morning and bought forty-five used weather balloons. That afternoon he strapped himself into a lawn chair, to which several of his friends tied the now helium-filled balloons. He took along a six-pack of beer, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, and a bb gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was ready to land.
Walters, who assumed the balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air, was caught off guard when the chair soared more than 11,000 feet into the sky-smack into the middle of the air traffic pattern at Los Angeles International Airport. Too frightened to shoot any of the balloons, he stayed airborne for more than two hours, forcing the airport to shut down its runways for much of the afternoon, causing long delays in flights from across the country.
Soon after he was safely grounded and cited by the police, reporters asked him three questions:
“Were you scared?”
“Would you do it again?”
“Why did you do it?”
“Because,” he said, “you can’t just sit there.”
His answer caught my interest. I pondered that story and its implications for several months. Then, as I was preparing a sermon, “The Crisis Called Christmas,” my thoughts came together. I used the Walters story in the introduction to set the stage for the idea that each of the birth narratives called for a response-or a reaction-from its participants. When it comes to God’s intervention in our lives, we can’t just sit there.
Talk about it
Creativity is often synergistic, so I cultivate people in formal and informal settings who cultivate my ideas I never know when a brainstorm will strike-and quickly vanish!
Happily, I can relate to this writing and it gives me insight and information to use to step up and recognize my creative strengths and areas of weakness that can be improved upon. Did you find anything in his writings that might help you relate to being creative in your own life? I hope so. Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I hope your creativity grows.