Inspired Conversations

When was the last time you had a REALLY inspired conversation? I mean the kind where you learn something new about yourself or gather interesting information from someone else.

Earlier this month, I had one of those kind of inspired conversations with @Cnvrgnc. Rasul and I bonded on Twitter over an article that I tweeted about creating a Rock ‘n’ Roll theme throughout the city of Cleveland. We played online tag for the next several months promising to schedule a phone conversation. Finally, our schedules cleared and for about an hour we chatted on the phone like creative kindred spirits.

From this experience – that left me creatively invigorated –  I developed some tips for inspired conversations:

1. Meet Offline. I am sure you know a lot of people online. I know I do! But how many of them can you you say have met in person or at least heard their voice? Meeting offline gives you a space to really explore the nuances of your conversation.

2. Ask Questions. Want to know more during your conversation? Just ask. Asking questions is the perfect path to new knowledge.

3. Connect. Look for places in the conversation to connect and bring in your personal experiences. In my case, I had lived for many years in Washington, DC, where Rasul currently lives and works. It turned out we had some common acquaintances and friends.

4. Continue Sharing. Not only is it important to share ideas and resources during your conversation, but also keep the dialogue going. After the conversation, send them interesting links or leads relevant to what you talked about.

Before long, not only will you have a new perspective, you may also have some new creative ideas or at least a new creative cohort to add to your circle.

  • Schedule an inspired conversation today.

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?

Creating More Little Aha’s

Maybe it’s the new year or maybe it’s the winter weather, but recently I’ve had some revelations that have changed the way I think about creativity.

First, I had an inspiring conversation with a very creative friend. We were discussing our thoughts on creativity and comparing them to what we normally see portrayed by other creatives. What we came to the conclusion is that unlike of them, we were more interested in practical creativity.

The kind of stuff that gets you through your day. The small innovations you make to your daily life to make it easier, more interesting, etc.

Then, while reading ahead for one of my classes, I came upon a chapter on creativity and business innovation. There was an abbreviated version of an article published in 2006 in BusinessWeek, entitled The Myth of Creativity. In it, the author declares the whole concept of creativity training to get the big aha out of people as merely a waste of time.


Because creativity is more about the little aha’s and the small changes we make to our lives than the big idea that would make us a hero. Every one of us does this on a daily basis, whether we are conscious of it or not. So instead of encouraging people to have grandiose creative ideas that change the world, let’s encourage them to start with the little aha’s that grow into big aha’s.

  • How can you create more little aha’s?

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?

What Innovation Means to Me

Too often people confuse creativity with innovation. To me, creativity is about coming up with new ideas, while innovation is the application and (hopeful) success of those ideas.

Yet, when I think of innovation I don’t necessarily think first about products. Lately, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on this and understandably this is what innovation usually gets associated with.

But there are other ways of looking at innovation. I think more about innovation as creating new concepts – yes those concepts will probably end up as products – but I don’t believe innovation starts with products. Earlier this year, published “Innovation Jubilation” 50+ new business ideas that defy doom and gloom. The article mentions everything from the DIY trend to mapmania as concepts that are transforming business.

Another useful way to look at innovation is personal innovation. This type of innovation involves improving you and your life. Matt Heinz recently posted about this in Five Ways to Create Innovation Throughout Your Life. He writes about using innovation to improve everything from you relationships to your future.

  • What could you innovate?

Seth Godin on Creativity

Earlier this week marketing guru and blogger, Seth Godin made an interesting creativity analogy: creativity as a stretched sweatshirt.

His claim is that creativity is about getting to the edges, much like every time you wear your favorite sweatshirt it stretches and the edges become larger.
So why is this useful to creatively solving problems? Here’s Godin’s take:

1. If you want to be creative, understand that you’ll need to get to the edges, even if the edges have moved. Being creative means immediately going to the place the last person left off.

2. If you are “not creative,” if you are the sort of person that gets uncomfortable being creative or has been persuaded you’re not capable, don’t worry about it. Just stretch the sweatshirt in your spare time, watch the creative things other people have done, keep up with the state of the art. Then, when you do your “not creative” thing, most people will think it’s pretty creative indeed.

  • This week try to find your creative edges.

Image from

When Are You Most Creative?

So, when is your most creative time? I’ve discovered that mine is at night. More like the middle of the night. I’ve found that I do my best thinking and come up with more ideas when I wake up in the middle of the night. It’s not then that the ideas percolate, but rather during the time that I am tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep.

In the past, like most people, I would lie awake worrying. But then last year, I started to use that time more productively. I began actively focusing on ideas I was working through and that’s when the real creativity started.

I’ve come up with some of my best ideas during this time. And of course, I get up and jot down notes, because I know that once morning comes, they might be gone for good.

  • Read this article to find out how to maximize when you are most creative.

Keeping a Visual Journal

One of things that I am not too good at is keeping a journal. When I have tried to keep one, it usually lasts no more than a few months at a time. That’s why I am so impressed with people who are diligent at documenting their lives and even more so with those who keep a visual journal.

This article on local artist/designer Karen Blados gave me new hope and inspiration that even I could start a visual journal. I think I will add this to my list of things I want to try to incorporate into my creative practice in 2009.

  • Start your own visual journal today!

Karen Blados Image

Looking for Inspiration?

Writing prompts? Project starters? Story beginnings? and other random idea generators?

Your Brain on Creativity

A recent article in the Times asks the question, Can Everyone be an Einstein? The article focuses on the relatively new discipline of neuroscience to explore the ways in which we can mold our own brains, focusing on mental exercises to improve everything from intelligence to creativity.

One of the things that intrigues scientists is the ‘aha’ moment in creativity that is often referred to as insight. Such a revelation usually arises from what scientists deem as a pattern of thinking where associations are made between seemingly dissimilar thoughts.

So, with that in mind, answer this question: how many uses can you think of for a brick? Or this: what would happen if people no longer needed to sleep?These were questions asked in psychological tests specifically designed to measure creativity. They have been attacked as far too subjective. But they do point to a crucial way of defining creativity. If you are now idly imagining dozens of uses for a brick or the novelties of a sleepless world, then you are probably a divergent thinker. If, instead, the questions make you impatient — a brick is for building walls, dammit — then you are a convergent thinker.

  • What kind of thinker are you?