Disciplined Dreaming

Do you or does your organization need more ideas? Well then Josh Linkner and his book Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity may have just the solution for you or at least just the right idea generating tool!

Filled with proven techniques and the success stories to back them up, Linkner has written a resource that you and your team will come back to over and over. He believes that creativity is a skill that you can learn and even quotes from renown Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen to prove it:

“Studies have shown that creativity is close to 80 percent learned and acquired.”

From there, Linkner provides a simple framework to increase your creative thinking capacity and also teaches you how to encourage it your organization or team.  His five step process is similar to the actual creative process.

1. Ask: Define your creativity challenge by asking what needs to be solved. Then use your curiosity to seek those clues.

2. Prepare: Like exercise, creative thinking requires warm-ups. Also if you are in an organization, cultural alignment is necessary.

3. Discover: Seek creativity in the unlikely corners of your life. You may be surprised by what you find.

4. Ignite: Where the rubber meets the road. Use as many different tools and techniques to spark ideas individually or in a group.

5. Launch: Bring your analytical mind back into the picture to sort through all of the ideas you generated in the last step in order to choose the best ones to  pursue.

Now, I can’t guarantee that you will become a creative genius after reading this book and following the Disciplined Dreaming process, but I am pretty certain that Linkner’s infectious enthusiasm about all things creative will at least make you look at problem solving and creativity a lot differently.

  • Now go and create some new ideas!

Spark: How Creativity Works

“Work comes out of work.” ~ Richard Serra

This memorable quote leapt out of the pages of Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein, the producer of Studio 360. The book, which chronicles the creative process of many of today’s creators, is filled with little nuggets like this to inspire you.

As you know, I am all about the process – the creative process that is! While the finished product is a feat, for me it is the process that is really intriguing.

That’s why this was the first non-school related book, in a long time, that I not only read but devoured. From the first story that takes us on a journey with the artist Chuck Close as he discovers his renowned painting style despite his physical and learning challenges, I was hooked. According to Close,

“Inspiration is for amateurs, and the rest of us just show up and get to work. But so much of it comes out of the process…”

The rest of the book continues to explore the creative process, in all its forms, with examples from writers, architects, musician, and actors alike.

There are stories on how artists have dealt with adversity, created modern alchemy through their work, worked with partners and collaborators and just got to work. In this last chapter, the writer, Isabel Allende discusses, in fascinating detail, her ritual of starting a new work each year.

This book provides a deeper look into the creative process of some of the most intriguing contemporary artists and is a must read for process lovers.

  • How have your life experiences influenced your work?

30 Days of Creativity

In my last post, I mentioned that I had just begun the 30 Days of Creativity challenge, where I was required to make one thing a day for the entire month of June.

Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it, when I started. I am notorious for leaving projects and ideas abandoned. So I this time I made a conscious choice to follow through with this challenge.

And, guess what? I am halfway through it, and I am glad I pushed myself to stick with it. Working on a small project (5 minutes max) a day has been so beneficial to my development as an everyday creator.

Here are some of things I have learned:

1. Use what you have. Often my projects are inspired by my day. This beach glass sun catcher was the end of result of a day at the beach. I picked up the glass while there.

2. Set a timer when creating. I have found the 5 minute increment to be just enough time to get me into my creative flow, which I then take with me to other projects.

3. Experiment with techniques and materials. So far, I have used paper clips to create a bracelet and a dollar bill to create an origami heart.

Creative Dreamtime

In college, I took a 2D Design class. One of the required text books was on the philosophy of art. In that book, I remember a term taken from the Australian aboriginals that has always inspired me. It’s called dreamtime. The aboriginal people used it to describe their stories of creation, but I like using in conjunction with creativity.

For me, creative dreamtime does not just occur at night when you are sleeping. In fact, I like to use it before I drift into sleep and usually during the day when I am taking a nap. Oftentimes on the weekend, I will retreat to my cozy bed to work through an idea.

When I lay down, I start to meditate on my idea and the possible creative solutions for it. It is during this time of relaxation that I get some of my best and most creative ideas.

I also make a point to get up before I actually drift into the real dream land to jot those ideas down on a pad of paper in near my bed. I find that once I fall asleep, I have forgotten most of my ideas. And I am not usually a person, who can work ideas out in my dreams, so I found creative dreamtime works best for me.

  • When’s your creative dreamtime?

Creative Visioning

A big part of my creative process involves visioning. If you haven’t guessed already, I am a highly visual person. So it seems only natural that visioning would play a large role in my creative process. But not just my creative process for designing a collage, website or poster but also for creating my own life.

I’ve written about this before in Create a Visioning Collage to Inspire You, where I described the process for designing a visual collage for your dreams. But, I’ve never showed you one of my personal collages till now.

I started with an idea of what I wanted the coming year to look like based on the following quote:

“Kindness can make miracles happen!”

Then I followed the steps from the book Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams to construct what this would look like visually. I found images, words, and colors to represent and reinforce the image I created in my mind of what my goals for this year would be.

I placed this collage on the inside of my planner and look at it every day, when I open my calendar to plan events and goals for the upcoming day to support my vision.

  • How do you use visioning in your creative process?

Becoming a Life Change Artist

Are you planning to look for a new job, new career, or just a new perspective on life this year? Then Becoming a Life Change Artist: 7 Creative Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Stage of Life by Fred Mandell, Ph.D and Kathleen Jordan, Ph.D is the book for you!

Before I planned to interview Kathy Jordan for my Five {5} Creative Questions series, I won a copy of her book. I was so excited that I dove right into it and have admitted that I never wanted it to end. Yes, it was that good.

I also have to admit, that as a trained art historian and personal development enthusiast, this is the book I wish I would have written. It explores the creative process through the work and life of such artists as Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Frida Kahlo. Using the creative process of artists and translating it to personal growth is genius.

Throughout Becoming a Life Change Artist, Mandell and Jordan, share accounts of people, just like you and I, who have overcome adversity to achieve their goals, whether it was going back to school, switching careers, or choosing to stay home and care for their children. Interspersed with this are the stories of successful artists and how they used the creative process to complete some of the finest paintings and sculptures in the canon of art history.

Not only will you learn about the creative process of artists, but you’ll also learn the specific skills involved to make your change real. And with plenty of exercises after each chapter to get you thinking, this book keeps you involved in your own creative process.

Finally, my favorite part of the book happens to fall at the end, in the appendix. There you’ll find some pretty amazing resources including the Creativity Calculator, where you can test your own creative skills and learn which part of your process could be improved. Plus, the Preparation Activities appendix provides a ready-made list of creativity-enhancing triggers.

It looks like Becoming a Life Change Artist will be my go-to creative companion for the next year, as I get ready for big changes in my own life.

  • How can you creatively reinvent you life?

Doodle Diary Not Just for Girls

Last week I introduced you to uber-creative Dawn Devries Sokol and this week I want you to meet her latest book, Doodle Diary: Art Journaling for Girls. I am a twitter follower of Dawn’s and when I saw this book was being released, I begged for a review copy. I guess I just knew that with a title like that it would be good and fit right into the theme of my blog.

Anyway, after receiving the book, I giddily flipped through it and quickly realized that not only is this book not just for girls (women of all ages will love it too!) but also it is the kind of book I wish I had had when I was growing up.

The introduction features a host of how-tos for getting started doodling, as well as tips for using the book and getting the most out of it. My favorite part includes a statement about how mistakes often make better art! If only, I had read that as a young artist, I wouldn’t have had to learn it later in life, but I digress… Dawn also includes a list of tools, which include suggestions beyond a simple pencil. She mentions gel pens, sharpie pens, and crayons among others.

The rest of the book is filled with brightly colored and creatively laid out doodling prompts with plenty of extra space to well, just doodle. What I really like about the book is not only the emphasis on expanding creativity for girls but also the subtle messages of self-improvement aimed at a group that could probably use a boost of self-esteem.

With that said, I’d highly recommend this book to girls (of all ages) and even to boys. It’s an overall magical book that everyone will glean a bit of creativity and inspiration from.

  • Sample prompt: 5 Things That Make Me Happy. Now get doodling!

Outsmart the Unexpected

Earlier in the summer, Regina Pacelli sent me a message asking if I’d like to read her book, Outsmart the Unexpected: Grow Your Creativity the Edge-of-your-seat-Way.

Because I am always open to reading new books on creativity, I agreed.

From the beginning, I realized this wasn’t your typical creativity book. You know the one I am referring too! The one that promises to hold all the secrets to being more creative. Well, this is not that book.

Regina has no secrets to share, in fact there is no academic research, no stories of uber-creatives and no exercises that guarantee you will be more creative. Instead, she presents you with a couple of dozen ‘cliffhangers.’

These are short, almost impossible to believe stories that you have to figure out the ending to thus expanding your creative thinking skills.

The premise reminded me a of book that was out in the late 90s that my friends and I used to test each other with. It was a ‘what if’ style of book with really wild scenarios.

By the end of the book, I am not sure if I felt more creative, but I enjoyed the ‘cliffhangers’ and the opportunity to come up with my own solutions, because I think we are often always given the correct answer and that stifles our own creative and problem-solving abilities.

While I read the book on my own (each night before bed, which resulted in some crazy dreams!), Regina gives several great ideas to use the book in a more collaborative way. She suggests you use it as a party game, online discussion or chat. I would also add that it would be helpful as a creative writing prompt!

  • How can you ‘Outsmart the Unexpected?’

What’s Your Creativity Ritual?

Starting back to school earlier in the month has been a great learning experience but has also put a damper on my creative time. With classes, homework, work and other commitments, I am finding less and less time to create.

My latest collages are now being created on my bed spontaneously in the middle of getting ready for work in the morning!

I realize that this is not the ideal environment to be creating in, so I am making the best of it. I have never been a person who has a ritual to complete before creating but am thinking maybe now is the time to craft one. The thought of being able to shift my focus and to utterly concentrate on my creative work, even if just for a half an hour, sounds divine.

I am wondering what other people do to get in the creative mood when life just gets in the way.

  • Do you have a ritual that inspires your creativity?

Creativity is About Perspective

The other day, while taking off my earrings, I dropped one on the floor. I looked down but couldn’t see it. The tiny earring blended right into the hardwood floor. I decided the only way to actually find it was to change my perspective by getting on the floor to locate it.

Voila! Within seconds of bending down and getting on the floor to look for it, I found the earring. It reminded me that creativity is also all about perspective.

Similar to me not being able to find my earring while staying in the same position, creative ideas aren’t usually found by thinking the same thoughts. Creativity requires us to take a different approach to finding the answers, like I took a different approach to finding my earring. I could have stood there all day looking for it, but if I hadn’t changed my perspective I would have never found it.

  • How can you change your creative perspective?