The Conference as Catalyst for Creative Action

Philharmonie Haarlem, site of Creative Company Conference

Organizations are wising up to the value of hosting their own dynamic conferences. And these conferences aren’t the drab, flat talking-head, name tag, cheese-n-crackers affairs.

You’d be wise to add “Attend Creative Conference” to your Creative Action Checklist for 2011. Read more

Don’t Waste Your Time Trying to “Find” Your Voice. Create it.

Note: Many of my clients (writers, freelancers, web-reneurs, entrepreneurs) and workshop participants struggle with this thing called “voice.” We all do. It’s elusive.

Professional writer or not, you likely rely on words to cast a portrait of who you are to the world. Behind the design and logo, behind the cover and title, a string of letters performs your fancy dancing for you.

Somehow a voice emerges that people recognize as yours. Or it doesn’t.

That fact paralyzes some otherwise brilliant web-preneurs. Even if they can write a decent sentence and sustain a train of thought for 500 words without their writing derailing, they’re still mystified by that fleeting and strange thing we call “voice.”

Voice charges written words with personality and verve, or with reservation and gravitas. It is a writer’s near-invisible signature on a page like a watermark. But if you hold a novel’s page up to the light, you still won’t find the secret traces of a writer’s voice.

So, how do writers and web-preneurs and creatives who rely upon words create distinct and authentic voices? Since writers can’t whisper directly on the page like Marlene Dietrich or belt like Ani di Franco, how do we sound “natural” with the written word? Read more

Are You Living & Dying in the Waiting Room?

Oh, you like your creative life and work now? You execute your work exceptionally well? And you live a life of passion? Well, just wait until you’re married or in a committed relationship.

Oh, you and your partner support one another’s creative life and work now? You still execute your work exceptionally well? And you still live a life of passion? Well, just wait until you have a kid.

Oh, you and your partner juggle having a child and you two still support your creative life and work? And you execute your work exceptionally well – if not better? And you live a life rich with passion and meaning? Well, just wait until you have two kids.

Or just wait until they’re old enough to talk back.

Or they’re teenagers.

Or just wait until you have to care for an ailing parent.

Or your own body starts ailing.

Or a natural disaster comes your way.

Or the economy tanks.

Or you die.

Some people wait

for Superman

for Godot

for Guffman

for miracles

for the end.

Others live.

Are you dying in the waiting room?

The Creative State of the Union: 6 Bold, Wonder-Centered Ideas for Obama’s Education Initiative

What will President Obama say this week when he highlights education reform at the State of the Union Address?

If he wants to speak beyond platitudes and programs, then I have six big ideas. Call them the MAKE WONDER FIRST IN THE CLASSROOM PROJECT. Read more

Reduce Fret & Increase Creative Organization: 6 Cool Tools

Note: A recent article discussed how Mind Rooms can shift how you organize tasks and desired creative actions into meaningful, pleasurable categories. This piece follows up with what to do next with those Mind Rooms and what tools can help you.

I led tele-conference recently on “creative organization for creative entrepreneurs.”

More than one participant bemoaned that she didn’t want to spend hours organizing instead of doing. It’s a good point. You could obsess about color-coding and labeling files and creating elaborate systems that you then forget about.

But if you’re busy and juggle multiple projects, a simple system of creative organization is crucial for you to flourish with less fret. It can help a creative person with a regular job become a freelancer (relying on income in most ad-hoc singular client situations) and a freelancer ultimately become a creative entrepreneur (someone who has many related enterprises and income streams that allow her to flourish with her own creative projects without being impoverished). Read more

To All Creatives: Radical Ways to Renovate Your House of Fear

Fear and doubt can take over our bodies like obnoxious house guests whom, after a few years, we’ve unintentionally allowed to move in for the long haul.

You can take a quick survey, sort of like a house carbon test, to see if you’re living in a house of fear: Erratic or shallow breathing? Physical agitation and trembling? A little irritable and excitable? Making sluggish progress on your projects?

These are the questions I’m sitting in: What do fear and doubt do to our creative lives? What are some radical ways to shift those emotions, ways that surpass psychoanalysis?

Read more

Do You Need a Muse to be Creatively Productive?

The questions still come up among the writers, designers, and entrepreneurs I work with: Is the muse out there somewhere or within? Doesn’t the very idea of the “muse” imply I’m at the whim of something else?

Two clients last week in two separate meetings raised, in essence, these very questions, so we need to raise the discussion again.

These questions have gnawed at me since I coined the phrase “Yoga As Muse” years ago. And over the years the phrase has rubbed more than one person with whom I’ve worked the wrong way. Once, a writer in Taos, New Mexico said to me in private something to the effect of, “I like what you’re doing, but there’s something about the word ‘muse’ that doesn’t sit right with me. Something about some entity outside of me,” and her flittering fingers made a gesture that implied fairy dust.

I nodded and said something like, “Right, right.” I cleared my throat and said, “But the idea of Yoga As Muse is that the muse is within and that any source of ‘inspiration’ is at our disposal as readily as is the harnessed breath.” She wasn’t satisfied. “Muse” still said to her Tinkerbell.

Read more

A Friday Interlude from Information: A Hut of Questions

How many snowfalls are blanketed in your memory?

Isn’t there a lyrical stream still running under ice?

If so, is it so cold it’s hot?

When you let thoughts stop falling into slots, do they make snow, tears, a stream, or an umbrella?

What if we each have many streams of consciousness instead of just one?

Isn’t the body always shaping thoughts the way unseen soil feeds the tallest tree boughs?

Isn’t it time to climb down from the tower?

A hungry junco’s trident feet sketch arrows of desire in the snow.

Will you follow them or make your own?

Enjoy your weekend. See you in the woods.

Drop in the Hut
What questions are you living in today?

The Body is Creative Innovators’ Indispensible Tool

Do you find anything unusual about this photograph? It appeared in David Segal’s excellent recent New York Times Magazine’s article on how creativity thought leaders are changing the way creativity happens in corporations. The article features Dev Petnaik’s innovative team of creativity consultants, Jump Associates. This photograph shows the team performing yogic stretches before their brainstorming session.

What’s the connection? Why would one of the nation’s top-notch creativity teams (paid around $200,000 a day for some sessions) stretch before brainstorming? How does  engaging the body stimulate creative innovation? Read more

WWWW – The Web as the Digital Wonder Cabinet

from Cabinets de Curiosites

Note: Once a week – maybe each Tuesday – I’ll offer a resource for tracking wonder. These resources are highlighted in Tracking Wonder Handbook Two called THE SERENDIPITY SLIDE: 20-Plus Resources to TRACK WONDER for Your Creative Profession & Life (download-able by entering your email in the box to the right).

I’d be the first to tell you to get out into the woods or at least take a walk around a city block to experience – full-bodied – the wonders of your small world and to shake your creative mind out of its four-walled ruts. But the World-Wide Web offers its own wonders.

Read more

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