Today we're thrilled to host Mary Buckham, who many of you know from her online classes and new book, BREAK INTO FICTION with Diana Love. Be sure to leave a comment to have a chance for winning one of her books!
MARY: I love January, not for the post hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but as a season of reflection, of slowing down and taking stock prior to making New Year’s goals that stick. I usually give myself all of January to decided and clarify. Lately I’ve been reading a book by John C Maxwell: Thinking for a Change: 11 Ways Highly Successful People Approach Life and Work. With lots of quotes, anecdotes and insightful questions Maxwell opens avenue of thought I found helpful to writers or anyone really, in particular a chapter on Creativity. Because being creative and living our creativity is at the heart of every writer. I’d like to share what I learned from Maxwell as well as my own experiences as an author, an instructor and a human being.
“Every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso.
Were you aware that 90% of five-year olds see themselves as highly creative? That in itself is not amazing, but wrap your minds around the concept that by the age of seven, 80% of us who saw ourselves as creative no longer believe we are. That means only 10% of seven-year olds believe they are creative. By the time we reach our teens that number drops to 2% and remains fairly constant throughout our adult lives.
So if you are a writer, or a painter, or sculptor, etc., count yourself among the few who have never, ever given up on a gift given to many, but realized by few.
To savor and honor that gift here are seven steps to continue to empower your own creativity.
Step 1) Remove Creativity Killers. Sometimes the words are said by others, sometimes from within, so if you catch others, or yourself saying any of the following then you’ve run into a Creativity Killer. Follow the Rules. Don’t Ask Questions. It’s Hard. Be Practical. Be Serious. Think of [fill in the blank]. You Can’t Afford [fill in the blank]. Yes, But. You Don’t Have the Time. You Don’t Have the Money. Don’t Be Foolish. The list goes on and on but you don’t have to buy into the Creativity Killers.
Step 2) Develop a Creative Environment. You know best what spurs ideas, fuels your passion, creates energy. Is it color? Certain objects? A wide horizon? A secluded space? Honor your sacred creative space, whether it’s a desk top, a room or something else, and it will honor you. So take a good look at your working environment. Does it foster your creativity? If it doesn’t, how can you change it?
“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow” – Charlie Bower
Step 3) Surround yourself by people who support you and challenge you to be the best at what you want to accomplish or do, not what they want you to accomplish or do. The more time you spend with creative people engaging in creative activities, the more creative you will become. Conversely, the more time you spend with nay-sayers or limited thinkers, the more time . . . you can fill in this answer. Who are you surrounding yourself with?
“Reaching new goals and moving to a higher level of performance requires change, and change feels awkward, but, take comfort in the knowledge that if a change doesn’t feel uncomfortable, then it’s probably not really a change.” John C Maxwell.
Step 4) Challenge yourself constantly and be willing to feel uncomfortable. Delight in exploring something new, something different for you. What have you done lately to push your comfort levels? To challenge yourself? When have you broken your routine? Driven a different route home or read in a genre different than the ones you usually read? When have you tasted a new cuisine? Explored a new location? Daily we’re given opportunities to push our limits, so what’s holding you back?
Step 5) Creative thinkers don’t fear failure. Why? Because they hold a different expectation of what failure means. Didn’t achieve what you had hoped for? For many this is considered a failure, but what if it meant something different? Any situation holds the seeds of new knowledge, self-awareness and new direction.
“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” – John C Maxwell
Creativity requires a willingness to look stupid. It means getting out on a limb, knowing that the limb often breaks! And if it does, take that opportunity to spread your wings and fly!
So what about you? What does creativity mean to you? How have you faced the highs and the not-so-highs of being creative or wanting to feel creative? Feel free to comment and out of those who do comment one name will be drawn for a copy of BREAK INTO FICTION™: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells or a Fiction book of your choice depending on the genre you love.
Mary Buckham is an award-winning fiction writer, co-author with Dianna Love of BREAK INTO FICTION: ™: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells from Adams Media [June 2009], co-founder of http://www.writeruniv.com/ and a highly sought after instructor both on-line and at live workshops around the country. To find out more about Mary, her Manuscript, Synopsis and Query help, her Lecture Packets, Workshops and Writing projects visit her website.