Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Creativity for Bloggers

Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

I know you love it when I talk diet-y, but I’m taking a break today to address the subject of creativity, the ability to “generate innovative ideas and manifest them from thought into reality,” which is how Wikipedia describes “creativity” (I know, I know… a pretty uncreative description… I’m off to a terrible start here).

Unleashing your creative side can help you…
  • Find new solutions to problems
  • Look at things from a new perspective
  • Create new creations
  • Think more original thoughts
  • Have a little more fun
To those of us who blog, creativity can enhance our message and make us stand out from the pack, but anyone (and everyone) can benefit from incorporating a more creative approach to their worldview.

You see, I don’t believe creativity is a “got it or don’t” trait. We all were handed a pack of brand-new crayons in kindergarten. We all had a time in our lives when our imaginations ran wild and free.

Here are a few practical tips to feed the creative side that I believe still resides inside you…

Drive a different route to work/school/errands. Routine is the death-knell of creativity. We get in a rut and turn our brains off. Think back: do you remember anything about your drive today? Go a round-about way tomorrow, and don’t be surprised if your brain wakes up and starts noticing the world around you.

Dial it up a notch. I sometimes play a game called “satellite roulette” with my XM radio in the car. I spin the dial a few times and force myself to listen to whatever it lands on for at least 10 minutes. It may be a Spanish newscast or Latin reggae or techno pop, but I sit there and let it sink in. Give your brain plenty of new material to process.

Look at the world in new ways. Sit across from your desk for a morning or stand up during a phone call. Take a continuing education class or learn a new language. Go to the library and pick a couple of books at random. Go star-gazing or blueberry-picking. Cultivate an appreciation of different ways of thinking.

Cut back on the TV. Or change the way you watch it. My daughter Pisa and I have a regular nightly routine where we set up in our TV room (“The Spicy Crib”) and watch TV shows or movies that we’ve seen before. She’s got a drawing pad, doodling her doodles, and I’m pecking away at my laptop, usually churning up some new blog nonsense. We call it “watching TV,” but both of us are actively busy creating something new while we do it, not passively sitting and watching.

Become an explorer. Get out in the world and feed your creative side. Hit museums and parks, concerts and poetry readings. Try new places and new foods. Remember, the wider the lens, the better the view.

The goal is to pretend you’re ten again and haven’t forgotten how to use your imagination. Creativity is fueled by sights, sounds, smells and experiences. Sitting around won’t help you generate new ideas; trying new things and giving your brain new things to think about are what will jog your creativity.

Applying Creativity to Your Blog (and Life)

Once you’ve stirred the creative juices, there are plenty of ways to apply your super-charged brainstorming ability into your blog or other creative efforts…

Make connections. I particularly enjoy finding the connections that exist between what we’re all obsessing about (losing weight and healthy living) and other aspects of life, such as marriage, childbirth, sex, etc… or focusing the subject through the prism of an unexpected delivery method, like a fairy tale, nursery rhyme or, from time to time, a popular song. All I’m doing is making a connection between one thing and another; it’s like magic… nothing to it if you know the trick.

Ask “What if?” Those two words can unlock the gate to a whole world of creativity. Asking “what if?” can turn any idea upside down or inside out. It can completely change the landscape of what you’re working on.

Take risks. Some of the most popular blog posts I’ve written have been ones I’ve had second thoughts about publishing. Yes, there’s the possibility that you may fall on your face from time to time, but there’s a special high ground reserved for the risk-takers of the world. Remember what they say: “a ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for”.

Knock down your comfort zones. Creativity is about embracing the change that would otherwise knock you off kilter. It seems counter-intuitive, but it can greatly benefit you to challenge your everyday routine. Try working in a way that you would normally struggle with or find difficult. New answers come from new ways of thinking.

Write down every idea. Write down everything and anything that crosses your mind, even the seemingly stupid ideas. A big part of having a good idea is having a lot of ideas. Keep a running list of ideas to explore later. I’ll often start blog posts that go nowhere, so I’ll abandon them; sometimes I’ll revisit these cast-offs and find new inspiration in old ideas.

Don’t be afraid to fail. There are no mistakes, only lessons, and lessons are repeated until they are learned. Every failure is an opportunity to grow, and most will never achieve anything approaching greatness without experiencing a few setbacks along the way.

Sing in your own voice. To thine own self be true. No exceptions, no excuses.

Brains, like bodies, need regular exercise to keep fit. If you don't work out your brain, it’ll get flabby, soft and useless. Read good books, talk to clever people and don’t be afraid to disagree with others – as a matter of fact, I think I’ll go tell my wife Anita what I really think of her mother.


  1. Good post Jack, something to think about! Thanks!

  2. new follower here. I have only read a few of you recent posts this morning, but I like you Jack, you funny. I especially like this post, it is something I have been telling people for awhile, only I tell them all that they should consider pursuing a college education or at minimum some type of adult learning classes. I enrolled in college in 2007 at the ripe old age of 34 and it was life changing. I have done exactly what you are proposing here, exercised my brain, seen many new perspectives on old subjects, and not been afraid of new challenges based on my new found confidence in me.

    Look forward to following you Mr. JackSh*t!!

  3. Great blog. This year I started painting classes (which I love) and they have exposed a whole new side of myself.
    I also took a camera on my normal morning walk to work for a few days - amazing how much more I noticed!

  4. Jack, I LOVE it when you step outside the songs! I, too, believe that each and every one of us is an artist and is FULL of creativity and ideas and talent. I will even step out of the box here and admit that one of my deep down, often unspoken beliefs, is that it is hiding our creativity that leads to overeating. (or any other addiction for that matter) We are trying to feed our stifled imagination and creativity!
    That is why I read your blog EVERY single day. You keep that spark alive for me!

  5. Thanks for the post - I find that sometimes I get into a groove when it comes to blog posts, which tends to make each post a shadow of the former... I keep trying to remind myself that I have to change things up a bit sometimes - I like my life, how I like my food - spicy :)

  6. This blog really hits home. I love how you and your daughter use "watching tv" as a time for growth. As for your connections comment, I am always amazed at how taking a different look at the world can change what the world gives you. A little new age, maybe, but it really applies to the weight loss journey. Great job Jack Sh*t! As usual, I am very impressed!

  7. Great post today, Jack! I am going to think of ways to live "outside of my box" today, and then I'm going to think of ways to think outside of the box with my blog. HMMM. You got me thinking!

  8. Write down every idea! Whoa, I gotta write that down so I remember!!!!!

  9. I just thought: "YAY! New crayons!" :D

    But really great post, Jack! It definitely inspired me, and I've always admired your creativity on your blog.

    The thing I need to work on most is keeping a running list of ideas, which is probably where I failed with my first blog. Now that I'm in the realm of talking about life in general, as well as weight loss, and my obession with clothes, I feel like new doors have opened up for me, and I'm so glad I took the plunge.

  10. I often struggle with letting my creative juices flow!! Thanks for the tips!

  11. Absolutely brilliant, Jack! Creativity is something that's been on my mind a lot recently. Maybe today I'll go and sign up for that pottery class. I've been putting it off too long.

  12. So much freaking good advice here. It's my new go to post for the blogger who is just starting out. Hell, I learned a ton from it. I especially liked "There are no mistakes, only lessons, and lessons are repeated until they are learned."

    That whole concept is so much bigger than blogging but definitely applies too. There have been plenty of times when I've been afraid to pull the trigger (publish) but keeping that thought in the back of my head is definitely going to keep me from hesitating so much in the future. Thanks for this!

  13. Wonderful post and one I desperately needed! Thanks Jack. :)

  14. Awesome awesome post. I'm gonna go get lost driving around my city!

  15. This was such a great post - thank you for making me realize that blogarific creativity stretches to beyond the keyboard! :)
    Now I'm going to be creative with lesson planning...

  16. Being that you're one of the most creative people I know, I think I might follow some of this advice. Even though I'm one of those people that just thinks I was born without creativity.

  17. I bet you're a great Dad.

    Thanks for sharing!


  18. This is so true! Hunni forced me to listen to the all 80's channel on the radio for our trip to vacation. Now I can't turn it off because it has such happy memories of my child hood.

    I can't stand routine because I get bored too easily even though I hate change. How's that for crazy!

  19. My creative side helps me keep my health side. I linked the two together - married until the end of time. Using what I learned while taking off the weight helps me now with my new pursuits. :D And, I know come what may, I will survive and find away to fight another day.

  20. Excellent.

    I have a simple philosophy.

    Unless we create we die.

    We are borne to create and I believe it is essential for the soul and brings healing in every dimension of life.

    And It is personal. We aren't all Picasso but we all are able to create.

  21. Loved this, Jack.

    My favorite: "The goal is to pretend you’re ten again and haven’t forgotten how to use your imagination."


  22. I need more time to read this & let it sink in. I will be back to read it more in depth. Thx Jack.. I need this!

  23. I loved this post. Every suggestion is so spot on and heartfelt. (Loved the part about everyone being handed a box of Crayolas...funny and profound.) Thank you.

  24. I don't know how I missed this yesterday, but Jack? I love it.

  25. Just FYI, I don't really care if you talk diet-y or not. I'm hooked solely on your eccentricity.

    Yep, been here for creativity from the get-go. You had me at first glance of your clever Shit Theme. That, & a post I saw of your house... I think I remember an awesome mosiac shower & a retro-fridge. We creatives thrive on gimick appreciation & funky personal taste, apparently :-)

    LOVE this post. Just bookmarked it, so I can read it once a month... see how I'm doing. Keep myself fresh. Thanks!



Related Posts with Thumbnails