Five {5} Creative Questions With Melanie

When I started this interview series earlier this year, I envisioned getting a peek into the lives of some of the creative women I am surrounded by virtually.

And while I did this and shared them with you, I always thought about what my own answers would be. So here they are:

1. What does creativity mean to you?
What creativity means has changed and evolved for me over the years. When I first started thinking about creativity in high school and college, I assumed it was something I didn’t have. So I spent my time admiring it in others, also known as studying art history! It wasn’t until later, while working as an educator at a museum when my boss told me, “to just be creative,” on a project that it hit me. That statement stunted me, because I did not know what that was. After that, I began to really study creativity (mine and others).

So today, creativity means to me a connection of new ideas to make something that moves us forward somehow, whether it is spiritually, personally or professionally.

2. What is your creative process and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
Since I am an introvert, my creative process involves A LOT of internal musings. It usually starts with me being in a quiet place, which could be in nature, bed or even the shower. These are places where I do my best thinking. Once I get the initial idea to create, I usually run with it from there.

For instance, if I am designing something, it usually starts with an idea. Then I try to tie a theme or process to it. I am very big on connections and am always thinking about how things relate to one another.

3. What is your most creative time of day?
First of all, let me say that I put this question in because of a blog post I wrote about this a couple of years ago. I was curious to see if there was any connection between the time of day and when people were most creative. There turned out to be none.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?
After completing Eric Maisel’s The Creativity Book, I’ve become more attuned to being everyday creative. For me that doesn’t mean simply doing something artistic but living my life creatively. This might mean taking a new route to work, eating a new food or even getting up on the opposite side of the bed. Anything that I can do to create synergy, I try. I also do simple things like improvise a new recipe, mix up my wardrobe with different colors and patterns, and decorate my planner with images.

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?
Over the years, I’ve definitely shared with you a lot of my personal tips. That’s why my best resource is also the one I subscribe to the most and those are my Top Ten Creative Cures. There’s bound to be a tip in there that will ignite some sort of creative spark within you.

  • Happy Creating!

Five {5} Creative Questions with Linda Naiman

I have long been a fan of Linda Naiman’s work. So much so that I asked a mutual contact to introduce us last year. Linda and I have stayed in contact since then, and I am delighted  that she agreed to answer my questions on creativity this month.

Linda Naiman is a creativity and innovation consultant, coach, and speaker. She is founder of and co-author of Orchestrating Collaboration at Work. She has been featured in the Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, and Canadian Business Magazine.

Linda has spoken about art, design and transformational leadership at US Navy Leadership Symposiums, The MIT Club Singapore, The Banff Centre, and at international business conferences. Organizations who have sought out Linda for her expertise include American Express, AstraZeneca, and Intel.

To find out more about coaching for creativity and innovation: visit Creativity at Work, follow Linda on Twitter @lindanaiman and @alchemize, and join the CreativityatWork fan page on Facebook.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
I define creativity as the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.

2. What is your creative process and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
Creativity is both a process and a lifestyle. Turning ideas into reality requires whole-brain thinking. I use L-mode (left-brain) logic, and planning, as well as R-mode (right-brain) imagination and kinaesthetic intelligence, depending on what phase of the creative process I am in.

I apply metadisciplinary thinking in my work. For example, my interest in art and leadership led to exploring how we can apply arts-based principles and practices to leadership and management innovation in business.

I feed my brain with diverse stimuli by taking an interest in arts, science, popular culture, conferences, and by conversing with people who come from different backgrounds, disciplines and cultures.

I take notes, keep journals and collect links/docs for future reference. I tend to download thoughts or images on paper, or on digital media, then edit. I also take time out to meditate, dream, reflect, and walk in nature, allowing ideas to incubate. When inspiration strikes and ideas coalesce, I seize the moment and take action.

All of this prepares the ground for creativity. Sooner or later my interests give me new ideas and insights, which inform my creativity/innovation consulting and coaching practice.

My explorations in bridging art, creativity and leadership, led to developing arts-based learning in organizations, and to the publication of Orchestrating Collaboration at Work, the training book I co-authored with Arthur VanGundy.

3. What is your most creative time of day?
Mornings mostly –but creativity can be triggered at any time. I think the question to ask here, is what situations spark creativity? The key for me is to refresh my brain chemistry by eating well, getting enough sleep, and switching gears when fatigued. When my brain is fatigued by L-mode activities, I switch to R-mode.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?
See Question #2

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?
Expand your radar, and be on the lookout for clues from the world around you. Juxtapose ideas or practices from one discipline with those of another. Be curious, ask questions such as: what can I learn from X that I can apply to Y? eg art and science, art and business, or business and science. Creativity happens at intersections, at edges, when you experience a change in consciousness and an interruption in your patterns of thought.

Try something new, take a risk, and above all act! Learning and creativity go hand in hand. Don’t worry about perfection right away. Experiment first, develop your craft and iterate.

  • THANKS Linda!

Five {5} Creative Questions with Kathy Jordan

I am currently reading Dr. Kathy Jordan’s latest book, Becoming a Life Change Artist: 7 Creative Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Stage of Life, and I am loving it. That’s why I am thrilled to introduce Kathy to my readers.

Dr. Kathy Jordan is an innovative coach and Reiki energy healing teacher who integrates her expertise in creative skill-building and mind/body practices to help people create more meaningful and joyful lives.

She is also a corporate consultant highly regarded for her inventive and practical approaches to managing strategic change and enhancing bottom-line performance. And she provides writing and editorial guidance to help individuals and businesses craft compelling messages true to their voice and vision.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
My vision of creativity is that it is the energy of all things. It is the force which animates us. We’re all born with creative potential, and we all have the ability to develop our creative skills throughout our lifetime. For me, creativity and spirituality are intertwined. I think of creative energy and spiritual energy as the same. As much as possible I try to infuse my daily life with creativity. In my professional work as a writer and editor I am as selective as possible about which projects I take on, choosing work that allows me to “play”, to take ideas and shape them in ways that engage and inspire readers. I’ve learned the hard way that if I take on projects only for financial reasons, I may end up trapped in work that doesn’t allow me to express myself creatively.

It’s also important to me to express myself creatively through art. I do mixed media paintings, and in the last year started art journaling.

2. What is your creative process and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
Hmm. My creative process is a bit mysterious to me. But it always begins with a meditation drawn from the system of Reiki, a Japanese energy healing system. During the meditation I imagine creative energy moving inside me with each inward breath, and that same energy filling the world around me when I exhale. Sometimes I also chant, another way of connecting with the creative energy that I believe is the essence of who I am.

3. What is your most creative time of day?
Morning. Also afternoon. And did I mention evening? Seriously, I do different kinds of creative work at different times of day. Morning is prime time for original writing or workshop design. Afternoon for editorial work. I love doing art work in the evening. Sometimes feeling a little physically tired at night can keep me from overthinking what I’m trying to create.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?
Since creativity is about bringing into being what wasn’t there before, I try to tackle routine tasks in fresh ways. For instance, when I’m out running errands, I’ll sometimes deliberately take a different route. I’m also infamous in my family for frequently rearranging furniture, and moving paintings around from one room to another. Perhaps more importantly, I try to make time for my art every day. If I skip a day, before I know it, a month has gone by without doing any art, and I feel disappointed in myself. Which brings me to…

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers? …my best creative tip: Do something creative every day. My Reiki teacher, speaking about spiritual practice, says it’s better to meditate 5 minutes a day than 30 minutes once a week. I think the same is true of art or any creative practice. Whether it’s singing, playing an instrument, dancing, scrapbooking– whatever gets your creative juices going–make time for it every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. If you end up spending more time than you planned, so much the better.

  • THANKS Kathy!

Five {5} Creative Questions with Dawn D. Sokol

Dawn Devries Sokol is one creative (and busy) woman, so I am happy she took some time and answered my questions this month.

Dawn DeVries Sokol is the author of Doodle Diary: Art Journaling for Girls (Gibbs Smith, 2010) and 1000 Artist Journal Pages (Quarry, 2008), a book designer, and an avid art journaler and doodler. She lives in Tempe, Arizona, with her husband T.J., and dog Lucy.

Her next book will be published by Gibbs Smith in 2011 and Interweave Press just released her workshop DVD titled “Art Journaling: Pages in Stages“. She discusses art journaling and doodling on her blog. She also can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is constructing or inventing something and anyone can do it. We are all creative. We all have imagination. It’s just how we access the imagination and what we make of it. Whether we paint, draw, make music, sing, dance, perform, craft, crochet, sew, doodle, or whatever…It’s all creativity!

2. What is your creative process and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
I’m not really sure if I have a set process. If I feel inspired, I create. As a book designer, it can be difficult to feel inspired on a deadline, but I graduated with a degree in journalism, so deadlines tend to motivate me more than not. I sometimes go days without creating if I’ve been on a huge deadline or just completed a big creative project. You have to take a break.

3. What is your most creative time of day?
It’s definitely not the morning. It’s always later in the day. I used to be a night owl, and I think that’s stayed with me…sometimes I can feel incredibly inspired late at night. If it’s a rainy day, THAT inspires me.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?
Since my job is a creative one and I’m self-employed, I guess I eat and breathe it. Art journaling has become a part of my professional life, and it’s still a part of my personal life.

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?
If you want to introduce creativity into your life but are not sure how, take workshops or an art class. Maybe you’re drawn to music or the theater. Find ways to get involved in these activities!

  • THANKS Dawn!

Five {5} Creative Questions with Michelle James

I am so honored to introduce Michelle James. I met Michelle over 5 years ago, shortly after I started exploring my own creativity while living in DC. Meeting her was a transformational experience for me in many ways, and I am grateful that we have stayed in contact since then.

Michelle James has been pioneering Applied Creativity and Applied Improvisation in business in the Washington, DC area since 1994. She is CEO of The Center for Creative Emergence and founder of the Capitol Creativity Network. Recently she was recognized for Visionary Leadership in Fast Company’s blog, Leading Change, for “her commitment to bring creative expression into the work environment in a very deep and meaningful way.” Michelle is a business creativity consultant, facilitator and coach who has designed and delivered hundreds of programs for entrepreneurs, leaders, and organizations. Her original programs have been featured on TV, the radio and in print. Michelle performs full-length improvised plays with Precipice Improv, is an abstract painting artist, and is a CoreSomatics Master Practitioner. In 2009, she put on DC’s first Creativity in Business Conference.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
Life, aliveness, life energy, life trajectory, the core, the source, the natural way of being, the driving force, the unique self, the essence of all living being and systems. It is that energy within all of us and all living things which animates, liberates, and generates. It is the same force that paradoxically expresses our absolute individual uniqueness and connects us in community. It unites things, people, ideas, frameworks, concepts that were previously divided. It is there, ever-flowing, for us all to engage it, shape it, form it, express it and apply it to anything – from expression to solution finding to new structure creating. For me, it is like asking someone to define the essence of life – there are as many different ways to define it as there are people. That is uncomfortable for people who like to think there is one right way. Creativity is not about the one right way.

In my work, I find that I use the definition that resonates most with a particular client or organization to meet them where they are. Once they experience the power of re-igniting their own creative wellspring, they will always be able to come up with their own definitions that are more relevant for them than anything I could come up with – because while creativity is ubiquitous and universal, is is also uniquely personal.

Creativity is living paradox. It contains a balance of left and right brain, cultivating and emergence, thinking and being, reflection and action, receptivity and generativity, improvisation and planning, heart and head, analysis and intuition, and structure and flow.

2. What is your creative process and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
I call my meta-process the Creative Emergence Process (named my business after it), and within that, there are many types of creative processes I use, and that list is always expanding. The creative Emergence Process unfolded in my consciousness over a period of several years, more as a life calling than a creative outlet , and led me to create a whole business around it. It is a whole-brain, whole-person, whole-systems approach to merging creativity, purpose, business and serving the larger good. It is based on the Emergence Principles – natural principles that create conditions for creativity to emerge – and Practices that cultivate and focus creativity. My focus is in the work especially.

I use both left and right brain approaches to engage creativity for myself and with my clients. Some tools I use to engage it are storytelling, improv theater, movement, visual arts, imagery, design thinking, movement, intuition-based techniques, reflection tools, journaling, accelerated learning methods, ritual, insights from psychology/archetypes/mythology and process work, systems thinking, analytical processes and structured creative solution finding approaches, outdoor adventures. I also focus on conversations with people who think differently than me, pattern breaking, trying new things, “yes-anding” both myself and others…and doing things that are fun!

3. What is your most creative time of day?
I do not have a more creative time of day but I do have cycles when I feel more creative, and when possible, I try to follow those, and do the busy work in less inspired moments. It’s connected more to what I am creating than a time of day. When I have a project (work-related, artistic, new structure, etc) that I am excited about, I can create all day and night without getting tired. Time has en entirely different meaning. My energy feels endless. When I am in routine busy work, or work that is predictable, I can lose my creative “mojo” very quickly. I then have to consciously focus on breaking patterns and commitment to get it done. I come alive with newness, so I do what I can to keep creating. But in times where I know everything that needs to be done and still have to do it, I either (1) switch from enthusiasm to discipline mode to keep me going or (2) do something to break my habitual patterns. That usually helps me get the creative juices flowing again. Commitment and pattern breaking help keep me going when I’m not feeling the “flow” as easily.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?
It is so integrated into my every day way of thinking and being that is is hard to me to separate it out. My life’s work and business is based on it. Whenever I feel the call for something new to emerge, I seek to find a way to create it.

Because of my belief about the essentialness of making it an explicit part of every day work and life, I started a company called The Center for Creative Emergence, dedicated to integrating creativity, meaning, organizational culture and business for a happier and more productive work life and a richer bottom line. Included in CCE is Quantum Leap Business Improv. I founded and run the Capitol Creativity Network in DC for those interested in creativity for personal and professional development; and I put on DC’s first Creativity in Business Conference last year. My mission is to help “mainstream” creativity and engage people into their full humanness for innovative work, positive social change, and consciously creating a life-giving future. That is always at the core of all the choices I make.

Having a purpose and mission larger than yourself, and larger than expression (but including it), is one way to keep creativity infused in your daily life. Another is to make it a priority, and set aside time for your Creative Self – making it your most important appointment of the day. Your Creative Self need space, time and attention, like all living things, to flourish.

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?
Above all else, let go of any voice in you that says you are not creative. That is based on an outdated – and just plain false – definition of what creativity is. Creativity is not reserved for those in the arts. It is in every person and every field and discipline. By expanding your definition or what it mean to be creative, you can become more comfortable with knowing your self as a creator.

One thing I recommend for everyone – and think should be required in all schools, universities, and business training – is taking improvisational theater classes. The transformational power of improv, in my mind, in unparalleled because you learn how to become fully and completely present. You have to leave planning, agendas, judgement, and just be there, in the moment, without any safety net except for the naturally self-organizing creativity that can’t do anything but emerge. It takes you into the present moment – the place where we can really see and feel and get out unlimited creativity. We have just been socialized, educated, and traumatized out of our natural creative selves, and improv is one of the many ways to help us reconnect. It provides you with a set of principles that, when practiced over time, will free you up to be more adaptive, responsive, generative and creative in your life and work. The tip: find an improv class in your area and take it!

  • THANKS Michelle!

Five {5} Creative Questions with Diane D.M. Solis

I found our latest guest through her amazingly inspirational blog Creativity as a Way of Life.

Diane D.M. Solis is a scientific and creative writer/editor who designs interactive self-discovery projects, workshops, and retreats for individuals and groups to enhance personal development and creativity. Diane’s formal titles have included: teacher (English, ethics, social justice, and art); organizational development and training specialist with an emphasis on work team and leadership development; senior corporate editor (technical publications, public communications, and proposal writing/editing); and spiritual director.

Over the years she has written two monthly columns in local, national, and international publications, as well as articles, stories and poetry. Diane also creates works of music and art in a variety of media and genres, and has practiced contemplative meditation for over twenty years.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is like breathing. It’s how I look at the world, and how I see it. It’s how I love the people in my life, and life itself. I realized some years ago that for me, as a creative individual, whatever I’m working on, creating is as critical to how I move through life as breathing. Creativity is as fundamental to my identity as faith, culture, my relationships, and my sexual identity. This is probably true for all serious artists to a significant degree, whatever their genre.

Not creating, we are living a kind of half-life. Creating, we’re more fully here. Let me try to explain: Just like everyone else, artists can go about our chores and meet many of our obligations. Beyond that, creative individuals (they don’t have to be artists, they may be creative teachers, lovers, even workers) also reside on what I’ve come to call “the gifted plane.” Merging these realms, the day to day and the gifted plane, through acts of creativity, artists get to “live more,” if that makes sense. They live more because they are living more fully as who they truly are.

2. What is your creative process, and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
I have many creative processes. For anyone who has read my blog, journaling is a critical aspect and a great tool. I’ve also adapted a 9-square brainstorming technique that was created by Mandel, the father of genetics. Someday I hope to outline it at the blog. It’s a way of going wide and deep to capture important details as part of a whole landscape that lives and breathes and evolves.

Contemplation is key to my process. I’ve practiced contemplative meditation for more than twenty years. Many of my ideas for stories, songs, poems or paintings are notions that actually began as distractions during meditation. I don’t stop to write them down then. The important ideas return to me later. Meditation is a key for helping me to know deeply who I am, to understand more deeply and fully my spirituality, and for freeing me to connect with my creative muse.

My process also involves writing-walks in the early morning with my little notebook. You’d be amazed how a reflection, poem, or more can begin and unfold as one walks by some unusual or mundane thing. Beyond that, I take artist field-trips (Corita used to teach art using these field trips) at least twice a month to unusual, artistic or beautiful places–not that the “beautiful” is always pretty–and often outside. The ecology of the world around us if chockfull of metaphors that can speak (that beg to) through our art.

Finally, on the question of process: a half day of every weekend I shut down to retreat and be mindful of where I am on an “Art Spirit” level, so I can rest and just “Be” there. Often this will give way at some point to discerning where art and life are moving for me. Eventually I will use this time to explore what I like to call creative “serious play” with any of a variety of media. Before long, I get into a certain rhythm. Then it’s like magic, with poetry all around me, within and beyond the place where I may be sipping a glass of water, paddling a kayak, or oiling the moving parts of an old sewing machine.

3. What is your most creative time of day?
I don’t know if I have a most creative time. I don’t subscribe to the notion of writer’s block—I know that much. Every idea stimulates ten more. Ten is just an arbitrary number for “many,” or even “infinite.” I like to say, “Behind every door, ten more doors.” So any time I have available to me is most productive, creative time.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?
There’s always art, color, music, something creative going on, something to see, rest with, ponder, discuss, contemplate…all of it stimulating creativity. Because I believe in an infinitely generous creative all-knowingness–I doubt the Infinite Omniscience minds what name we use–and because this generosity is around and within me all the time, I am amazed and creatively stimulated by everything, from the variety of leaf-shapes and shades of green on a given stroll through my neighborhood, to the shapes, shadows and hues of light in the clouds, to the sounds and voices in a café, to the multitude of worlds there are, with a world in every mind within every car I see on the freeway.

Opening that door, did you ever stop to wonder about the conversations, perceptions, hopes, nightmares, dreams, of people you see in cars going by? And, opening another door, why are we all driving so fast, anyway? Where are we all really going? The same place, eventually. What’s the hurry?

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?
I write about this from time to time at the blog. Beyond journaling and meditating, artist field trips (to artful, strange or unusual places) and formal or informal retreats, I always suggest reading Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit and Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline. One was a painter and mentor to many artists, the other is one of the brilliant M.I.T. think-tank business shamans. His concepts of creative problem-solving in learning organizations apply to creative artists in every milieu.

But the most important tip I could share is simply not to let anything go to waste. Create from the rough times, the difficulties, the times we fall short of our vision, when things seem to fall apart, every sad moment, without clinging to the sadness or letting it define us–because we are so much more than our sorrows, and heartache is not less and not more valuable than anything else, than the beautiful, passionate, joyful or sublime for making art. Create from all of it, because it’s all important for connecting with others, and communicating what’s truly meaningful and wonder-full, as we are all in some way, hopefully, learning and growing throughout this precious amazing life.

  • THANKS Diane!

Five {5} Creative Questions‏ with Leah Piken Kolidas

For this round of Five {5} Creative Questions we welcome Leah Piken Kolidas.

Leah is a mixed-media artist living near Boston, MA with her husband and their four fuzzy meows. She sells her art at Blue Tree Art Gallery and blogs and runs creative challenges at Creative Every Day.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
I think a lot of people relate creativity to some kind of art-making, and then think because they can’t draw that they aren’t creative. But the truth is, everyone is creative. We are already creative every day in the way we live our lives, the way we dress, the way we make that fantastic potato salad, and the way we doodle on our junk mail. I think creativity can be found everywhere and it only expands when we focus our energy on it.

2. What is your creative process and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
I especially like to create intuitively, allowing myself to choose colors and materials that I’m drawn to in the moment, and letting images flow out spontaneously. Sometimes I’ll use sparks like inkblots to get me going. I also love working with collage and acrylic and seeing what happy surprises come during the process.

3. What is your most creative time of day?

It varies. In the colder months, I especially like to work at night. In the warmer months, in the late morning or afternoon.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?

By focusing on creativity on a daily basis, I find that opportunities to be creative spring up everywhere!

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?

I think having community is really important in maintaining a creative life, which is a big part of why I started the Creative Every Day Challenge on my blog, Creative Every Day. The Creative Every Day Challenge is a year-long, low-pressure challenge that you can join in anytime. It’s a great, supportive community and place to share what you’re creating that helps keep me and many others motivated and inspired through the year.

  • THANKS Leah!

Five {5} Creative Questions with Liz Massey

I am honored to introduce our Five {5} Creative Questions guest this month, creative extraordinaire Liz Massey.

Liz Massey is a writer, editor, media producer and a creative agent provocateur. Experienced in artistic disciplines as diverse as music, photography, filmmaking and journalism, Liz has a deep hunger to understand how the creative process works. She began Creative Liberty in 2007 as a way to share what she’d learned about developing and maintaining creative momentum.

Liz holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has worked as a magazine editor, a training content developer, a video producer and a publicist for a county library system, not to mention such “character-building” jobs as veterinary assistant, call center operator and bank correspondence proofreader. She lives in Peoria, Arizona, with her partner, thousands of books and a small, independent-minded dog.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
At its root, creativity is all about utilizing the present moment to bring something new into being — whether that is a work of art, a poem, a delicious lunch made with 3 ingredients or a new way home from work.

I mention the “present moment” part because every person must start from where they are, with the tools around them. We can certainly plan to purchase new tools, take classes to improve our technique, etc. – but in the end, getting into the habit of plunging in and making an attempt to create something NOW is more important than planning to “get it right” in some far off future that never arrives.

At my blog, Creative Liberty, I try to include news and tips from the art world, business innovators, inventors and social entrepreneurs who are trying to better our world, because all those fields demonstrate the creative process in action.

2. What is your creative process, and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
I try to make the most of my creative strengths – I know that I like to spend time planning a creative project before plunging in (hence my advice around the “present moment” in question 1 is for myself as well!) and that I must let my ideas “simmer” for a while before bringing them to life. I’ve often joked that what looks like laziness or procrastination to the outside world is actually “incubation,” a recognized part of the creative cycle and an afternoon spent at the coffee shop may be just the trick for jarring great ideas loose!

I am a dedicated idea harvester, and I carry a small notebook with me most of the time to capture thoughts about current or upcoming projects. When I go for long walks, I’ve also used the audio-note recording function on my cell phone to dictate an emerging idea before it dissipates.

Another significant tool I use to stimulate creative thought is the process of cross-pollination. I have created an RSS feed system on My Yahoo that contains incoming links from dozens of blogs and websites, on topics ranging from world travel and website usability to instructional design, endurance sports, cognitive psychology and filmmaking. I visit this feed system regularly to expose myself to information from outside my range of expertise, as well as fresh ideas from other industries.

3. What is your most creative time of day?
I am typically at my creative peak in the late morning. But by paying attention to diet and exercise, and generally just giving my body and mind what it says it needs throughout the day, I find I can work productively on creative projects during most of my waking hours.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?
By questioning assumptions and playing with what appear to be limiting conditions.

As I said earlier, I tend to be a planner and orchestrator, and it helps me break out of my rut to occasionally turn all my plans on their head and do things in the reverse order of what I originally planned to do, or pick one thing off my to-do list (hopefully the one that’s truly the most significant) and pour ALL my creative energies into that. I find that when I get clear about which creative projects and household/family tasks create the most happiness, I get more done and it feels good to accomplish all these things in ways that I had previously not considered.

As far as limits go, much has been written about limits actually spurring creativity, rather than restricting it. There is a French term, bricolage, which refers the process of creating something out of whatever is at hand. One who practices this is a bricoleur. Bricoleurs instinctively understand the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” By accepting limits as challenges, rather than judgments, it’s possible to create something that surpasses what might have been made if one had everything in the world at their disposal.

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?
Never underestimate the power of putting creativity first on your daily agenda and getting into the habit of practicing your favorite forms of creativity.

Most of us experience some awkwardness when we begin or return to a creative discipline, and it’s hard, with all the other modern-day demands on our attention, to stay focused on our projects, which may take a while to take shape or demand that we refine our technique to more completely execute our vision. But deciding that, each day, we will do certain things in service to our art (or to our ideas) can go a long way toward ensuring that we will remain connected to our creative endeavors.

Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way” and many other books on creativity, calls this building one’s grid. The habits that form our grid help make creativity inevitable, instead of something that happens all too rarely. Whether you have 10 minutes on your bus ride in which to dash off a sketch, or a month of vacation in which to film your documentary, working on building up your “grid” will ensure you’re able to use the time you have available to move your beloved project along.

  • THANKS Liz!

Five {5} Creative Questions with Shannon Kinney-Duh

The amazing Shannon Kinney-Duh is my guest this month answering Five {5} Creative Questions.

Shannon has been teaching yoga for 9 years, and has been actively exploring her own creative journey throughout her life. What she loves most is discovery and learning new things, and inspiring others to do the same. As she practices yoga and makes art, she feels more deeply connected to her true self.

Her life’s mission is to create, connect with and enliven joy, personal growth and the unlimited potential in herself and in others.

She is also a certified Hatha Yoga Teacher through the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago, and completed their Kriology program. She’s participated in Eric Maisel’s Creativity Coaching program and the Holistic Life Coaching program through the Spencer Institute. She has years of experience teaching and facilitating individuals and groups in creative exploration and mindful living. She loves all art forms, especially fiber, intuitive painting and art journaling. She considers herself a student of life.

You can find her online at Free Spirit Knits.

1. What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity to me means living in the present moment. It’s playing with my son, it’s making messes, it’s getting lost in paint, it’s thinking a new thought. I believe a big part of creativity is embracing our authenticity and letting it shine.

2. What is your creative process, and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
In order for my creativity to shine best, I need to take good care of myself. This means that I have to find balance between my family life and personal interests. My balance comes when I take time each day for stillness. This might be taking a yoga class, or listening to a guided meditation, or writing in my journal, or simply stopping for 5 minutes to notice my breath. I feel stillness is the key to connecting to our heart centers, the place where our intuition and creativity lives.

3. What is your most creative time of day?
I think this is such an important question. I have learned that my most creative time is first thing in the morning. I used to use all of my vital energy during this time cleaning the house, folding clothes and running errands. I found that by the end of the day I was mad and exhausted because I could never find any time for creating. Now, I honor my natural energy and head to my art room when I wake up. It’s a routine my 2 year-old is used to as well, and he’ll pull out his paints or train set and create alongside me. It’s my favorite part of the day.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?
Being a mom – integrating creativity into my daily life is a must! I feel like most of the activities I do with my son are creative in some way. If I pull out his paints, I might paint along with him, or pull out my journal and write a bit. If I take him to the park I’ll turn my cell phone off and walk slower so that we can really enjoy being in the moment. If I find a new recipe I love, I’ll let him help me cook it, then I might take a few photos and share it on my blog. Integration is something I’m getting so much better at, and I feel much more creatively alive because of it.

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?
Recently, I have integrated my biggest passion in life; art, writing, journaling, yoga, meditation, and inspiring others – into an e-course called Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery. This course is so near and dear to my heart. I have had 100’s of people join me in this journey from all over the world, and I have to say, connecting, sharing and growing with like-minded explorers in a creative, mindful way, has become a wonderful complement for those on a creative journey.

I truly believe we are ALL creative and deserve to feel like artists. We all know our life’s purpose, and how to live with more meaning, creativity and joy, yet with the craziness of life most of us forget. Inside Our E-Course helps us remember.

  • THANKS Shannon!

Five {5} Creative Questions with Karen Gielen

I am happy to introduce Karen Gielen this month, as she answers Five {5} Creative Questions.

Karen is a mother, artist, writer, and graphic designer. At 69% right and 31% left, she is considered an extremely right brain dominant thinker. Her interests include portrait illustration, advertising and marketing, graphic design, painting, singing, writing poetry and children’s stories, knitwear designing, photography, and numerous arts and crafts. Her repertoire of creative interests is constantly changing and she is learning that she needs to allow her creativity to flow where it wants to flow. Some days it wants to come out in her writing and some days only a pencil or paint brush will do.

Find Karen online blogging or tweeting under the handle cre8tivkj.

1. What does creativity mean to you?

I believe creativity is something everyone is born with. It is taking our thoughts, emotions, and experiences and turning them into something others can touch, see, or hear. As human beings we are all meant to be creative. It pains me when I hear people say they do not have or they are not very creative.

2. What is your creative process, and what tools do you use to stimulate it?
My creative process varies from day to day. Some days it just flows and words and images come without effort. Other days I need to allow a problem to incubate after researching and brainstorming. I tend to be an internal problem solver and I don’t usually pass my ideas by others before executing them. I am inspired by many things. Sometimes I will draw an image that comes to me in a dream. Nature can inspire a poem or a painting. I can overhear a conversation that will spark an idea for creative expression. Sometimes necessity will drive me to create something to serve my own purpose. Other times I will play and explore and creative ideas start flowing. My creativity usually has a domino effect, one idea will spark an idea for a completely different type of expression, when I write a poem it will spark an idea for a short story or a painting, etc.

3. What is your most creative time of day?

I have many creative times during my day. When I wake up, often times I will have pictures in my mind that I will sketch out and sometimes I will paint or draw them in more detail later. I have had entire children’s books clearly defined in my mind when I wake up. My creative juices will start flowing while I run, shower, and many times when I am trying to go to sleep at night.

4. How do you infuse creativity into your daily life and tasks?

Since I have small children and a very busy household, my environment is often times very chaotic and noisy, if I don’t have a piece of paper or sketchbook handy at all times I will lose ideas quickly. Whenever I get a quiet moment I cherish it and I’ll sit down and write or draw. I am working on finding balance between my busy household, caring for my children and nourishing my creative spirit.

5. What creative tip or resource would you like to share with our readers?

The more ways you find to express your creativity the more creative you will be. When you have many experiences to draw from when addressing a problem or even expressing yourself, often times, you can take techniques from one area and apply them to another in a new and creative way. Also, allow yourself the opportunity to play. When we play our minds relax and creativity is more apt to flow. I have found if I discover on my own how to do something I am more creative with a medium.

  • THANKS! Karen.