HOW TO FLEX YOUR CREATIVE MUSCLES

Occasionally, people write or ask how it is possible for a columnist to generate ideas week after week? Isn't it exhausting?
A common assumption is that generating creative ideas leading to productive activity must require expending astronomical amounts of energy and therefore tiresome. On the contrary, productive activity is stimulating; boredom is tiresome! Along those same lines, a useful question might be, "How can you find hard work stimulating?"
Whether or not something is stimulating, depressing, or overwhelming depends on your state of mind. That is, how you represent, then store that experience inside-- the state of consciousness generated by your internal pictures, dialogue and feelings relative to that task.
For example, when writing, if you can imagine clever and amusing excerpts of a previously completed piece while commenting pleasantly inside and feeling a sense of accomplishment, this complex state of consciousness becomes stored to represent the writing experience. You need only go inside and access that file called, "writing", to generate that state of consciousness again. If you initially experienced and stored "writing" as drudgery, upon accessing that state of consciousness, you will once again have that experience. Thus, in order to repeatedly experience "writing" as stimulating or enjoyable, it becomes imperative to create and store it that way in the first place!
"Great! But what if you don't associate writing with anything pleasurable? What if your memories of writing include failing in school or on the job?" Obviously, this is not a file you would readily access... unless you are a glutton for punishment. But there is some value in considering just how something became a negative experience. A useful belief is that people generally make the best choice availableto them in any situation. When something they do fails, it can then be inferred that there were too few choices available from which to select a winner. In terms of sheer numbers, the more choices of behavior you generate, the greater likelihood of selecting one that becomes a positive outcome.
In this regard, it certainly makes sense to create a flow of ideas-- even though only some will be good and most will not be useful or practical. Developing a steady, stream of ideas may be compared with weight training. As you progress-- when an amount of weight lifted a number of times becomes easier-- you advance to heavier weights. Soon you are using muscles of which you were unaware! Similarly, if you strengthen your brain by using it more, you will be able to achieve, then access, positive states of consciousness more easily. Hence, creative tasks will seem stimulating, challenging--but not tedious and foreboding.
If you want to develop a flow of ideas, try exercising your brain by scanning for thoughts that may be lying way down in dark corners and bring them to a conscious level. How? Here are some creative ideas to generate ideas:

  • 1- Think about the last time you had fun-- what was that like? Access that state of consciousness. Now while remaining in that "frame of mind", allow your imagination to run wild and consider anything that "pops" into your mind!
  • 2- If the "pops" lead to creative ideas, this state of consciousness-- of internal pictures, sounds and feelings-- may be stored, ready to access when needed for further creative endeavors.
  • 3- A more highly structured approach involves creating general categories in which specific examples can be placed. Write a list of subjects for which you would like to generate ideas, such as: home improvement, advertising, social activities, or articles.

A related point is to think of a catchy title as a subject category. Once I was asked to write about child discipline. Aware of the impending deadline and the consequences of an article submitted late, I developed the title, "The truth about consequences." Then the article just fell-out! It had nothing to do with lateness...but a lot to do with timing.