Speak Eagle

7 Keys to Unlocking Your Creativity

Last week, I freaked out just a tad bit. I was a few hours away from a deadline to turn in a script for a new Christmas musical to Word, and I was stuck.

Here’s how these types of jobs usually work- a publishing company sends me recordings of 8 or 9 new songs, and maybe an idea or two for a setting or character, and my job is to write a dramatic script or narration that ties all the songs together. And typically, I can’t change the order of the songs. So, if a song describes someone’s joy in receiving a special gift, or someone’s sadness about dashed expectations, I have to write the story so that particular song makes sense for a certain character to sing at that point in time.

At the beginning, it always feels a bit like a final project in a scriptwriting class- creatively daunting and seemingly impossible.

But, I squash my fear and start to write. I often have an idea where the story will go, but I’m not exactly sure how it will all play out. The most daunting part to write, every time, is the turning point. And that’s where I was stuck.

What happens to turn the main character around? To honestly motivate spiritual and relational transformation? I stared at my computer screen. Everything in the story was riding on this moment. And it couldn’t be contrived- it had to be organic- flowing naturally out of who this person is and the situation she finds herself in.

In this stuck-state, I knew just sitting there staring at my computer was not going to help. So, I began to think of what I know to be the keys to my own creativity. No matter your field of work, I think they will help you, too.

 

  1. EXERCISE800px-Running_girl

The first thing I did was to get out of the house and jog around the block. I’m not a runner. I usually only run if I’m being chased, or if I hear a blood-curdling scream from a little boy (which happens rather often at my house). But for the sake of getting some movement in my brain cells, I did it. If at all possible for you and your work situation, get your body moving. I don’t know the science behind it, but when I’m moving, my creativity starts pinging- and I start thinking of all the possible answers to the question, “What if..?”

 

  1. ASK “WHAT IF?”

Flowers,_bee,“What if” questions make us think unconventionally. If one option seems normal and typical, think of what would be the opposite- the abnormal and atypical option. For instance, typically, a person would be happy to receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers from a delivery person at the door. But WHAT IF there was a bumblebee on the flowers and it stung her just as she took them? It’s the abnormal and atypical option that can turn your work a new direction.

Whether you’re coming up with a business plan, posting on social media, redecorating, writing a commercial, or designing a presentation, ask yourself, “What if?”

 

  1. HANG OUT WITH A CREATIVE PERSON

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    Capuchin Monkey Photo courtesy of Tambako the Jaguar

Do you have a creative friend, family member, or coworker? Hang out with him or her. I have a friend named Josh Childs who’s an improv actor. Whenever I do corporate work with him, I feel comparatively about as creative as an IRS auditor. You should try keeping a straight face when someone is describing a capuchin monkey riding a motorcycle. When I leave, I’m inspired. Inspired to think outside the box.

 

  1. PRACTICE THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX WITH A SAFE AUDIENCE

Adults with cynical attitudes are not safe audiences. Trust me.  I’ve been to enough auditions in front of them.

Young kids and pets, on the other hand, they’re a very safe audience. So, if you have kids, practice being creative with them. Every night as put my kids to bed, I tell them a story about a boy, making it up as I tell it. I challenge myself to make the boy choose the atypical option. In last night’s story, the boy shot a rainbow with paint balls to try to get it change colors. All because a little green leprechaun told him it would work.

interested catI admit, some nights my brain is tired and I don’t want to make up a story. But I know it’s good for building up my creativity muscle. And no matter how stupid the story sounds to me, my boys always like it. Try it. Play pretend with your kids, make up stories and silly songs. And if you don’t have kids, try it with your pets. I promise, your dog or your cat is a safe audience.

 

  1. BRAINSTORM

Another important key to unlocking your creativity is to brainstorm. I

Photo courtesy of Pat Muri
Photo courtesy of Pat Muri

like to use “clustering,” where I write a topic down and circle it. Then, I draw offshoot circles from that circle of everything that topic sparks in my mind. You can then create offshoot circles of those circles until you have a visual representation of all your options. The option that inspires the strongest emotional reaction in me is the one I know I need to choose, because I will be able to bring the greatest depth in expressing it.

 

  1. PRAY

praying handsOur God, who spoke the world into existence from nothing, is a creative God. And by His Spirit, He can flood your mind with creative ideas if you only ask Him. In James, we are told He has an abundance of wisdom available to us. We need only ask. So pray, and ask God to give you creative ideas to make His name famous and help bring light and life and peace to the world around you through your work.

 

  1. BELIEVE YOU’RE CREATIVEsilly woman

Do you know what the difference is between creative people and non-creative people? The only difference researchers have been able to find is that creative people THINK they are creative, and non-creative people DON’T THINK they’re creative! So, just by believing you are creative you are using one of the most essential keys to unlocking your creativity. And the fact is- you are made in the image of a creative God. So, guess what? You ARE creative!

While I was jogging, suddenly, it happened. The idea hit me. I ran home as fast as I could and wrote the turning point in the musical script. And I cried as I wrote it. Because it not only changed the life of the characters, it changed me. It made me trust that my creative God would give me the creativity I needed to tackle seemingly insurmountable tasks to make His name great.

My creative friend, whatever God has called you to do this week, you can do it. You ARE creative. Believe it.

 

2 thoughts on “7 Keys to Unlocking Your Creativity”

  1. Heidi, this was such a delight to read! Thank you for inspiring me- “making His Name famous” — love that! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karthi! I just read Keith Stancil’s book Creating Monsters, and it has me thinking about the difference between making my work a stage for myself or making my work a platform to share Jesus. It’s really tempting in this “platform” age to want to make our own names famous, but making Jesus’ name famous is so much more lasting- like…eternal 🙂

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