The Creativity Prescription

June 21, 2010

by Leslie Zeigler

Creativity Prescripton

Are you ever curious about how to become more creative? All we  have to do is turn on Dr Oz’s TV show to learn  how to become more physically fit or how to eat in a more healthful manner.  We can change the station and watch Martha Stewart if  we want to become better cooks.  But to the best of my knowledge, there is not  a TV show that will tell us how to become more creative.  In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s wonderful book entitled “Creativity”  he talks about specific recommendations people can follow to increase their creative potential.  I will share of few of  his gems today.

1. Try to be surprised by something every day

It  can be as small as eating something different for lunch,  maybe try adding mustard greens to your salad or as he suggests, paying closer attention to something you usually do. It could be as simple as listening differently to a conversation you are having with a colleague.  Ask yourself  WHAT IS   THE  ESSENCE ? Ask yourself how do you really feel about this person anyhow?  Do you see them differently depending on your own moods?

2.Try to surprise at least one person a day  He recommends saying something unexpected. Or expressing an opinion you would not ordinarily dare to reveal.  He also suggests something as simple as experimenting with your appearance. Buy a scarf or if you are a scarf person,  buy a color you would never imagine yourself wearing. Or risk shopping  in a story you usually avoid.

If you want, you can dare to log in to our blog and post a comment to share about what you have  tried that is really new and different for you. Maybe what will be new is to blog at all!


How Do You Spend Your Time?

June 10, 2010

By Deborah Atherton

Time Running Out?

It’s a scary subject, time, and the lack thereof haunts our lives.  As an exercise, I recently did a Time Log of all of my activities for a month.  (This was recommended in Randy Pausch’s extraordinarily moving lecture on time management, given at the University of Virginia shortly before his death.) I tracked everything I did, in quarter or half hour increments, for the month of April. (And trust me, this took some commitment—you pretty much have to report in every hour or so if you don’t want to forget what it was you were just doing.)

I actually undertook this exercise, I think, with the idea of beating myself up about how much time I was wasting on TV and email and, okay, Tetris (will I ever crack 250,000 points?) And yes, there were definitely a number of hours wasted on Bravo TV that I will never get back again. But what really surprised me was how much of my time I spent reading. I’d been pretty convinced that I was no longer the  reader I had been all through my teens and 20’s, when I was cutting a swathe through the Great Books, as well as science fiction and fantasy, mysteries, and every biography of Virginia Woolf ever written.

Maybe April was just a month of good books coming my way. But I read and I read – much more than I wrote, and even, very surprisingly, more than I watched TV.  I read on the bus, and I read before bed, and I read all weekend long. And what was I reading?  Literary fiction, science fiction and fantasy, mysteries, lots of newspapers and online news sites, and every book on the psychology of happiness and creativity ever written (well, maybe not every, there sure are a lot of them these days.) From this, you may guess that I am a lot more cheerful now than I was in my teens and twenties, and you would be right. 

I could have still beaten myself up because I was reading more than I was writing, but I chose instead to believe that I was fueling my writing and my creativity with my reading.  I think what you discover when you track your time is what is important to you.  And, apparently, reading is important to me. As an exercise, I recommend it highly. Just pick a short month. February would be good. Because it takes a lot of time, and time is something we need to spend very, very carefully.