Friday, February 20, 2015

Five Ways to Unlock those Creativity Muscles

"Why is the moon in the sky?" "Why don't the stars crash into each other?" "Why did God make me your first child?" (You've wondered that too, right?) "Why do I have to bath every day? The dog doesn't."


Why does he keep asking questions? Because he's born to be creative. And what do we do as adults? Stifle his creativity! "Just because!"

To be honest, often it's because we don't know the answers. And why don't we? Because someone stopped us from finding the answers in the first place.

A good comedian trains his mind to look for the "different angle" on everyday things. In the same way, as writers, we can train our minds to look for different angles to everyday situations. Truly creative minds not only come up with the answers. They also come up with the questions.

This is why a young child can drive an adult crazy.

So how can we, as writers, re-kindle our creativity? Here are five suggestions:

1. Change your perspective. Look at your life from a child's point of view. Or through your dog's eyes. You may gain ideas on a new way to tackle a problem. Look at your writing from your reader's point of view. Are you satisfying his or her needs? Does this meet the requirements of the publication?
  • Don't stop at one idea. Look at your way of life from many different perspectives. I once listened to an LP record (which gives away my age) in which an intelligent man is trying to explain a game of golf to a totally uneducated bushman from Central Africa. Hilarious! But also thought-provoking.
2. Challenge your assumptions. You go out to dinner in a posh restaurant. You just assume they will have staff to wait on you. But what if they don't? How would that work? Imagine the scenario. Play it over in your mind. 
  • I once read a signboard sticking out of the lawn of a bowling green. "Keep off the grass," it instructed. Is that possible? Could you play bowls without stepping on the grass? How would you get the bowling balls to run on the grass if you kept on the path? Think it through.
3. Let your ideas run wild. One of my favourite story series as a little girl was Enid Blyton's Wishing Chair. For those deprived readers who have never read these stories, two children, Peter and Mollie, find an armchair that grows wings when they rub the legs. Together with their pixie friend, Chinky, they take off on many wonderful adventures. Be honest. How would you react if you were polishing a chair one day and it grew wings? Would you sit on it and wish yourself to an exotic destination? Or would you run out the room and scream for someone to come and help, because "chairs don't fly"? 
  • Look at your favourite armchair and visualise yourself sitting on it as you soar out of the window and across the fields. Imagine the expression on your neighbours' faces as you wave to them. Think of all the advantages. No parking problems. No emission of toxic fumes. Don't stifle your creativity. Relax, and let ideas come. You may never use them in your writing (although who knows? Enid Blyton did!) But you'll have fun.And you'll be building those creativity muscles.
4. Rethink your needs: For example, instead of thinking, "How can I attract more people to my blog, ask yourself, "Do I really need more readers on my blog?" The question suggests other creative solutions, like finding ways to make your blog more interesting to your present visitors. This may in turn help you come up with more profitable ideas.
  • Instead of, "What should my character do to solve this problem?" try "Do I really need this character?" Instead of, "How can I think of six suggestions on how to strengthen my creativity muscles?" ask, "Do I really need to have six?"
5. Connect the dots: Look around and choose objects near you, then ask how they may be connected. Connect the sight of a police car speeding down the road with the spate of robberies you read of in the newspaper. Will the criminals get caught? Possibly not. So does crime pay? Maybe it doesfor the guy who gets away. Notice an elderly lady crossing the road, her purse hanging over her arm. Connect the dots. Could a criminal snatch that bag and get away with it? What chance would the old lady have of stopping him? 
  • Can you write an article for a senior's magazine on security measures? How about "Safe ways to go shopping"?
If you train your brain to habitually use these and other training ideas, you really can strengthen those creativity muscles. It won't happen in one day, and you won't get a best-seller idea the first exercise you try. Remember that it takes time to develop new muscles, and that includes creative muscles. However, if you follow these exercises regularly, you will become more creative. 

OVER TO YOU: When you hit a blank screen, what do you do to spark those creativity muscles back to life? Please leave a comment below.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer has created a multitude of friends and contacts across the world.

Please visit Shirley through where she encourages writers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Kathleen Moulton said...

Shirley, you definitely cleared the cobwebs out of my head after reading this! More than that, you helped me see I can train myself to make it a habit. Thank-you for a great article.

Karen Cioffi said...

Shirl, what helpful tips on shaking your creativity up, and down, and around. I shared it all over!

Karen Cioffi said...

Oh, and love the image!

Shirley Corder said...

LOL! I couldn't initially think how to sum up the article in an image, then I decided to send my little girl on a trip on her wishing chair. :-) Have you read the stories? I loved them as a little girl. Hey! Time for confession, I love reading them to my grandkids now!

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks for sharing it, Karen. I hope you find it useful in the weeks that lie ahead.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I think the best way to stay creative is to surround yourself with accepting people, honest people, people who know how to help constructively.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Multi Award-Winning Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers including the second editions of the Frugal Book Promoter ( and The Frugal Editor ( )The latter is e-book only.for the time being.

Shirley Corder said...

So true Carolyn. I would agree this is the ideal, when it's possible.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks Kathleen. I'm glad you found it helpful.

Linda Wilson said...

Hi Shirl, thanks for a great article. I haven't read those adorable stories but would like to. Your suggestions make me want to fly away in my chair now!

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks Linda. I cut my reading teeth on Enid Blyton, who was an English writer. Her stories have literally moved down in the generations, in my house anyway, and I think in many others. I see quite a few of her books for older children are now out on Kindle but not the wishing chair - yet!

Debra Quarles said...

Love this post! You are so right.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks Debra. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you.

Sue Peters said...

Lol, great points Shirl! I love to explore other perspectives, but never thought of it as creative. Good to know! Thank you for some great ideas!

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