Your Creative Juices: How to (Re) Connect

Your Creative Juices:
How to (Re) Connect
Small Biz Advice that’s Fun to Read (and Works, too!)
Brainstorming 2.0: 15 Juicy Ways to Use the Internet
by Tea Silvestre
When we were kids, we had no problem accessing
our imaginations.
We also had no Internet, barely any TV (maybe a
whopping FIVE channels!), and video games?
When we wanted to have fun, we had to make that
sh*# UP.
I remember creating whole fantasy worlds with my
friends where we played for hours on end. Our ability
to invent magical adventures was unmatched by any
standards I’m able to meet today.
But thank gawd for the Internet.
Now that I’m older, my brain tends to stumble over itself when ever I “search” my own archives for
something particularly creative.
When I’m unable to call forward the answers I need, the trusty Internet (usually mediated through the allknowing Google) helps me find what I’m looking for.
And it’s not just me. More and more of us are turning to Google (or some other fabulous database in
the clouds) when we need answers. Answers to hard questions (how do you build a tree house?). And
answers to silly questions (who is that guy on SVU and where have I seen him before?).
Yep. They’re all in there.
Especially when you need something totally off-the-wall to make your project sing.
Brainstorm Using Search
In the last month, I’ve performed some “weird” searches to help me with my business. Especially with the
writing. See if any of these help you the next time you get stuck.
1. What rhymes with…? Back in college, I had one of those analog rhyming dictionaries. (You know…a
book.) It’s a tool more commonly used by poets. Nowadays, if I’m trying to find a word for a title or a
product name, my brainstorming usually takes me to You can type in any word and get
back multiple choices.
2. What words start with…? More naming challenges. This time I was looking for something I could
use for alliterative purposes. (Creating names-of-the-week themes for my social media calendar. Did you
catch Marmalade Monday earlier this week?) Just complete that question with the letter you’re looking for
and you’ll get a whole slew of ideas.
3. I need help with …? This one is good for seeing what the heck people are having problems with.
(Hint: so you can create a product or service to solve it.) I usually do this one on Twitter and Facebook.
But I’ve also got Google Alerts set up to send me juicy nuggets on a daily basis, too.
Fun fact: if you do that search in Facebook, make sure to select the Public Posts filter on the left
side of the search results window. You can then see all the posts by folks asking for help.
4. Is there an app for that? or a plugin? or, you know…a tool? The world is full of genius inventors.
And usually someone, somewhere has figured out how to do something faster or easier than you’re doing
it right now. And if you’re working on a big project, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Just this past
week, I searched for “How can I pull together multiple blog posts into one blog” and wa~la! I found this
post with 10 great ideas. Now we’re cookin with gas, baby!
5. Random input. First you start by stating the problem or question. (Write it at the top of a piece of
paper, or create a new document and use that as your title.) Now, open a search window and type in a
word or phrase from your statement. See what pops up. Click on the images filter (on the left side of the
search results screen). What do the results and your problem have in common? What does this new input
suggest for you? What else could it lead to? If you want to get really random input, try a random word
Fun fact: When Campbell’s Soup was brainstorming new ideas for soup products they used the
random word tool. I wasn’t there so I don’t know the exact sequence of words that came out of the
brainstorming session. Here’s my take on what happened. Campbell’s was looking for a new kind
of soup or an expansion to their current product line. They used the random word tool and started
with the word “apartment.” Then they brainstormed around that word. No logic, they just let the
ideas flow – apartment lead to building, build, tools, hammer, saw, drill, knife, which eventually
lead to fork. Someone on team said, “You can’t eat soup with a fork. It would have to be in chunks
to do that.” And that’s (supposedly) how Chunky Soup was born.
6. Just the right image. Many times, my blog posts and articles are inspired by a photo or illustration
first. I love to feed by brain with images and when I can’t get out to see the latest exhibition at the local art
museum, I peruse them online. If you start with a general topic (in my case, “food” or “cooking”) and do
image searches using flickr or google, you’ll find some truly amazing stuff. Stock photo houses are even
better because they allow you to create lightboxes where you can save images in category sets for later
use (see or as starting points).
Fun Fact: the Creative Commons is a great place to search for free images and other media you
can use on your blog. You can also use the Commons search on Flickr.
7. What’s trending? This is a great way to see what’s being searched for by others. Google Trends
serves up data about current search volume as well as historical searches. These can help you add some
interesting tidbits to your copy or even spark ideas for whole articles.
Fun Fact: Google Zeitgeist is like a yearbook for web searches. Every year, Google shows us what’s
been most popular across all sorts of different topic areas — in a visual format that’s fun to peruse.
8. What if? When you’re trying to innovate a new product or service, it’s helpful to ask as many what if
questions as you can. What if this widget smelled? What if our customer was a Pisces? Your answers
help you think about your challenge in a new way. Stuck for questions to ask? Try typing in any variation
of a question you can think of (“What if my widget smells”) and see what pops up. These can spark other
questions that you can follow down a rabbit hole. (Caution! Make sure you set a timer first.)
9. What’s the relationship? I found this tool called Watizit that helps you generate ideas using abstract
graphics. Most of us tend to conceptualize things in patterns we’re comfortable with (e.g. words or
numbers). This fun tool helps trigger connections that will take you outside your normal paths of thought.
Plus, it’s just plain fun.
10. Advanced searches. If you’re trying to find stuff that’s related to a website you’ve already found,
try Google’s alternative query. Just type related:URL in the search box and you’ll get websites similar
in content. For more fabulous fun with Google, check out this handy reference guide for doing other
advanced searches.
Other Tools
11. Check out the American Creativity Association’s website. (I know! Who knew, right?) They’ve got
lots of fun stuff including a whole section of tools to help you reconnect with your creativity.
12. Capture all that fabulous output in a mind map. Not only will you be better able to organize your
thoughts later, but the tool itself helps spur creative (non-linear) thought. There are a ton of free mind
mapping tools online. I like
13. From digital to analog. If you’re a tactile kind of person, you may want something you can actually
touch (other than your keyboard). In that case, check out They’ve got a boat load of
great tools you print out and use in your 3-dimensional world.
14. Feed your noodle. If you’re like me, you already subscribe to 3 dozen more email newsletters than
you’ll ever read. But I read this one without fail: They cull news stories from around the
world about totally unique businesses and product ideas.
15. Take a shower. Okay, this one is NOT related to the Web. But it does work extremely well. You know
how you always get your best ideas when you’re taking a shower or driving across town? Inconvenient,
right? Well, the power behind our showers is that they help us relax. Specifically, they induce a particular
brain wavelength called “Alpha” waves and scientists have found those are the waves that lead most
often to flashes of creative insight and inspiration. So step away from your desk and go relax. Just bring a
note pad with you (or, if you’re in the shower, a diver’s slate) so you can capture all that brilliance.
About Tea Silvestre (aka, the Word Chef)
As a marketing coach and consultant, Tea (pronounced Tay’ah) excels at helping her
clients find and share their Secret Sauce with the world online. She's also the founder
of the Tastiest Small Biz Brand Awards and teaches a great branding workshop called
Find and Share Your Secret Sauce for Bigger Profits. For more info, check out her
website at
How to be Creative: Multiplying Your Ideas by Dividing
By: Eugene Farber
Being creative is a essential for any entrepreneur. The need for creativity is even higher
in the online world because the competition is so high. If you plan on employing content
marketing, you need to get really creative because the internet is overflowing with content (and
exponentially growing).
So how can you stand out of the crowd when it is very likely that someone is already doing what
you are trying to do? How do you separate yourself, your service or your product?
You have to tweak it and make it unique. You have to be creative!
Breaking Down Ideas
While I was in school I attended a speaking engagement by an expert in creativity (if I could
remember his name I would love to give him his due credit) who explained how to come up with
thousands of ideas within moments.
The secret? Break down your ideas into smaller ideas.
As an example lets take a pen.
By breaking the pen into its parts an pieces you can alter the pen to come up with a completely
new idea.
Although I am no expert in pens or how they are made, right off the top of my head I can
come up with a few parts: the ball point, the clip, the ink cartridge and the spring. Now let’s get
Adding Adjectives
By taking each part of the pen we listed above, and adding adjectives to it, we can come up with
thousands of variations of the pen almost instantly.
For example lets take the actual ball point. How about a rubber ball point? Can it be done? Who
knows. I don’t. But it’s a variant of the original product. How about a rubber clip? Rubber spring?
How about a flying ink cartridge?
Ridiculous Can Be Good
Obviously you can get very ridiculous with this. But why not get ridiculous? Some of the best
income generating products may have seemed ridiculous at first (think rubber bands in different
shapes that you can wear as bracelets …or…umm…pet rock?!?).
Now take all the different variations you have come up with. Start combining them. If you come
up with just one variation for 5 different parts you now have 120 combinations to work with
Application to Business
This method can easily be applied to business, content creation and marketing.
Take what has worked for someone else, and tweak it to make it more original and more
unique. One small change can make a world of difference.
Break down processes into steps. And alter the details. Don’t be afraid to be ridiculous. Get
About Eugene Farber
Eugene Farber (@EugeneFarber) is a writer, entrepreneur and founder of
Content Strategy Hub. If you are ready to take your content marketing to the
next level, check out the 87 Ways to Dominate Your Content Strategy
eBook. You can also follow him on Twitter @EugeneFarber
Naked Creativity: What It Is & How To Get It
by evan austin
i so didn’t want this post about creativity to be a superficial and
already-done-a-million-times list of tips or strategies. So, i sat
down to make a list – you know, a nice orderly, rational, squarepeg-in-a-square-hole LIST of the various ways in which i could
approach the topic. Fortunately, i never got past titling the page
(although, yes, i titled the page): in the spirit of “the process is as
important as the product” or “the means are the ends in the
making”, i turned the page sideways and started making one of
those bubbly stream-of-consciousness connector thingies…mind
maps? Yeah, a mind map.
What i discovered were some great concepts describing what creativity IS, and that’ll be the structure of
this post. They naturally leads to some tips and strategies, so hopefully that’s a bonus.
i came up with six descriptors or phrases that answer this question for me, and i’d like to share a couple
at a time, along with some strategies that seem to address things to do if the descriptor is not being true
for you. Some of them overlap a little, and i was surprised to discover that one or two of the strategies i’d
come up with can really address ANY creativity block! Maybe you’ll be surprised too.
CREATIVITY IS…an intrinsic desire to do my best.
For this i was thinking mostly about being creative on my own personal projects, with no material gain
or external approval attached. Whether i’m writing or painting or arranging furniture, i have a desire from
within myself that i be proud of my own work; that it represent the best i can do at that moment. Not
● Start with something ELSE unrelated that you are either already great at OR that you ALSO want
to do your best at, and do THAT for a little while. Small successes in other areas often encourage
us toward the task we’re struggling with. (You can even do something that’s a guaranteed win,
like putting together a puzzle!)
CREATIVITY IS…a state of fearlessness.
Whoa. Sit with that for a second if you need to, because that’s HUMONGOUS. i happen to believe
fear to be at the root of most – if not all – of our world’s problems and evils, AND that the hierarchy of
peace begins with self, so overcoming fears in our own personal lives is foundational and essential
to EVERYTHING else being healthy order. i’m not overstating that. Where creativity is concerned,
my fears might include rejection, skill deficit, exposure, deadline, judgment of my value by another,
discomfort with my medium, etc. i’d further suggest that having lower-level needs unmet (in Maslow’s
hierarchy) constitutes a type of fear. Therefore,
● Eat, Drink, and Get Comfortable. Don’t let the basic needs of your body distract you. This
involves being aware of your body’s needs and signals in the first place, but if we can assume
your attunement to that: get enough rest, have a snack, stretch, go potty, sit or stand comfortably,
and adjust your or the room’s temperature so that it’s comfortable.
● Choose some lower-grade or easily-accessible fear you have and confront THAT to put yourself
in the mode of fear-busting. (This might be as simple/monumental as walking one block and
meeting the eyes of each person you pass with a hearty “Hello!”) has a great
article on overcoming fear.
Since a huge part of fear is mental, it may be helpful to find or develop a mantra or two that you
can invest a few moments repeating to yourself when you’re stuck, such as affirming your skill, or
that you have plenty of time for the task, or simply that you are comfortable and ready to create.
MEDITATE. Much of fear’s power also lies in irrational or inaccurate projects into the future and
old beliefs about how you performed in the past. Meditation is hugely about being grounded in the
present moment, which is the best space to be creative from.
CREATIVITY IS…clear-minded focus.
My life – and consequently my mind – is quite busy. To be my most creative, i need as few distractions as
possible…or specific distractions (such as music) to temporarily quiet all of my other pressing concerns.
Another great reason to
● Get your body’s needs met.
● MEDITATE. Most meditation practices begin with clearing the mind and focusing on the breath.
This gives you practice at returning from distractions (because they constantly press in) to a state
of focus, AND the physiological effects of deep, rhythmic breathing are well-documented and
totally encouraging of creativity: calming of your nervous system, and increased blood flow to
your brain.
CREATIVITY IS…sidestepping the ego, and empathizing with another’s needs.
i’ve seen the ego described as “the fearmonger”, and listed as responsible for projecting all our worries,
insecurities, and wounds…as well as taking criticisms personally. So this one’s related to seeking
fearlessness, and many of those strategies may work here too. In the case of creative work being done
for someone else (like, i just remembered that this is supposed to be small business advice, right?), i find
it helpful to
● Review the client’s needs or desired outcome as often as necessary, to keep drawing myself
back to their/my goal.
● Make it MY solution. i am now the client, and i now intrinsically want my work to be the best i can
make it, because i’m representing myself to the world.
● You guessed it: MEDITATE. Maybe with a twist: rather than focusing on a clear mind, hone in on
where you’re stuck and see if some specific attention there can ease past the blockage.
CREATIVITY IS…the language of UNhibition.
Of course being inhibited is also about distraction and fear…releasing those puts you in free-creativity
mode. Sometimes inhibitions are simply about getting out of your own way, so strategies that might help
here include
● Go have coffee, and say “Hello” to one stranger. When you aren’t struck dead for the effort, a
newfound confidence is yours!
● Change your environment. Work outside, or in an empty conference room or common space,
or at a coffeeshop…getting out of the familiar puts your senses on alert and breaks down some
barriers without you having to actually DO anything.
● Have a drink. i said A drink…and i know it’s not a strategy that works for everyone. The principle,
of course, is to loosen up and get your mind out of its own way. To that end, a brief, brisk jog
might do the trick.
● Write a poem. Do it badly and in private, if you must. To paraphrase the late (great) Kurt
Vonnegut, Jr, who said practicing any art is not a way to make a living, but a way to grow a soul:
“Write a six-line, rhyming poem tonight…make it the best YOU can…don’t tell anyone you wrote it, and
don’t memorize it. Tear it into pieces and put them each in separate trash cans. You will find that you
will be richly rewarded for having DONE this! To hell with fame and money; this came out of you…you
created something!”
Sing. In the shower, in the car with windows down or up…it
doesn’t matter so much as the breaking of the self-inhibiting “i
can’t sing” or “i’m not allowed to sing” by just DOING IT…because
yes you can, and yes you are.
Get naked. Ok, i work from home and spend the VAST majority of
my time fully clothed, but i’m just sayin’ if you’re REALLY stuck
and you need to lose an inhibition, strip on down. Draw naked!
Write naked! Play music naked!
MEDITATE. Just cuz i hadn’t said it in a while.
Go on a walk.
Take a camera with you everywhere. Even having one with me puts me in a more observant and
creative state.
Draw! Badly if you must!
Spend time with a child, or ask one for the solution to your problem.
Ask for help in general. i get some of my best professional advice from the good folks of Twitter
(Follow me? i’ve also been posting creativity-boosters like “What does Melancholy Look Like?” on
my Facebook Page)
Cultivate resources for inspiration. This might be a file of quotes, or the websites or books of
artists you admire, or that special CD that always gets you going. Figure out what that stuff is,
and keep it handy to be used intentionally as a tool!
● an intrinsic desire to do my best,
● a state of fearlessness,
● clear-minded focus,
● sidestepping the ego,
● empathizing with another’s needs, and
● the language of UNhibition.
You’ll notice that MEDITATION was a recurring theme, and while i’ve always had good meditative
experiences, they’ve been admittedly brief, rare, and random. MY biggest takeaway from creating this
post is an intention to meditate more frequently with an awareness of the specific benefits to my physical
and creative health. Also, here are two of my favorite resources on this whole topic:
Graphics (and more!) by evan austin provides graphic design and social media help to
small- & medium-sized businesses and orgs. Check out examples of his work at
Creativity Alone is Not Enough!
by Sharon Hurley Hall
There’s more to being creative than creativity. When I
was told that this month’s Word Carnival topic was going to
be creativity I rejoiced. After all, who would know better
than a writer or other creative professional about this stuff
that fuels our lives and businesses?
I think there are lots of aspects to creativity but there are
two that I want to focus on in particular.
Idea Generation for Writers
The first is the creative muse – coming up with ideas. This is
one area that I personally have no problem with. (Watch out,
tenuous link with favorite movie Love Actually coming up.)
Like Christmas, ideas are all around. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Just in case you have trouble coming up with ideas, here’s
my list of the places and ways in which they occur to me.
I get ideas were sitting at my desk writing about
something for a client. It’s amazing how when you’re
writing about one topic ideas on another will spring into mind trying to distract you.
I get ideas when I talk to other people, just in conversation about random things.
I get ideas from social media when I see what people share and discuss on Twitter,
Facebook and Google+.
I get ideas from my daughter who has just turned nine, is also a writer (not yet published
but watch this space) and like many children has a unique perspective on the issues that
adults worry about.
I get ideas from everything I read. And I don’t just mean reading about writing, but crime
fiction, biographies and more.
On the rare occasions when I don’t have an idea a change of scene will often produce one.
Capturing Inspiration and Creativity
OK, so if ideas aren’t the problem, sometimes the issue is capturing them. As writers we
probably walk around with a notebook or recording device (heck, your phone probably has
one), so there’s no excuse for losing track of an idea. Then you need to write them down
(though, as you will see, that doesn’t always lead to anything measurable). Some people use
tools like Evernote or Springpad to do this online. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just that you
do it.
Obstacles to Creativity
However as I said before there is another component to creativity – and that’s actually getting
off your backside and doing something with the ideas you have – making a product. What
good is it to be creative unless you actually create?
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will know that I have no problem being creative
on behalf of my clients. That’s what they pay me for. Often their work comes first. No matter
how many times I try to achieve a balance at some point I end up letting my stuff take a
backseat to client priorities. What does that mean in practical terms? It means that all the
creativity that is bubbling in my brain (I mean seriously, I have at least three ideas files and a
couple of online notebooks full of stuff that I know will be great if I could ever get around to
doing it) is wasted.
From Writing Ideas to Action
So how do you get from creative ideas to creative action? That’s something that I’ve been
working on over the last year or so. And so far my answer is: one step at a time.
Having too many ideas that you want to accomplish can be just as paralysing as none at all.
The trick is to pick the idea that resonates most with you, plan it out and do it. Then pick the
next best one and do that – one step at a time.
Your idea could be something small, like creating a video (check), something larger like writing
an e-book (check) or something even larger like creating a course (still working on that one).
I’ve found that if you want to get something done and move that creativity out of your brain
and turn it into something useful, you have to plan it.
You don’t have to get fancy with the planning. Some people like whiteboards and paper.
Others like mindmapping. I like an online list tool called Workflowy which is great for outlining,
storing information snippets and general planning. It has drag and drop too, which is useful
for when things change.
When you plan, you have a list of steps you can check off, but some people need even more.
They need accountability. This is where it’s time to phone a friend, set some milestones and
check in periodically. This will help you to actually accomplish something. Or you can crack
your own whip and set reminders in your calendar to email you with a list of what you have
to accomplish for your project that day. Or you can join a mastermind group and commit to
achieving certain goals every time you meet.
Creativity – A Summary
To be creative and make something of your creativity, you need to:
● have ideas
● capture them
● avoid the obstacles
● pick a project
● plan it
● carry out your plan, one step at a time
● rinse and repeat
How do you harness creativity? What gets in the way for you?
(Image: olga.belobaba)
Sharon Hurley Hall has been mentoring writers at Get Paid To Write Online since 2005 to
help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Check her out on Feel free to connect with her online on Google+.
101 Easy-Breezy Ways to Get Your Creativity On
By Annie Sisk of Pajama Productivity
Looking for cheap, easy ways to unleash the creativity tsunami you just know is
building up inside you at this very moment?
You’re in luck. It’s Word Carnival time, and this month’s topic is “Creativity.”
And I’ve been inspired … well, sort of.
Don’t worry. I’ll explain that cryptic statement at the very end of this post.
But first, let’s establish a few ground rules. ‘Cause you know me. I love me some
ground rules.
The Six Basic Principles of
Creativity is a natural state of being for every single human under the sun.
That includes you. (Unless you’re actually an alien from another planet, in which
case … I confess, I don’t know. But probably you, too.)
● Creativity isn’t something you do – it’s a way you approach life and
everything in it.
Creativity cannot be created, because it’s a form of energy. But it can be
increased, and it can be triggered, and it can be managed.
Creativity is not something that strikes you, like the old trope of “the whims
of the muse.” Screw that bitch. Creativity is a force that is always at your
disposal. ALWAYS.
Creativity can be triggered and magnified by three things in particular:
awareness (ormindfulness), change , and curiosity.
Creativity does not care one flying fig about being “right” or “perfect.”
Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s dig into the good stuff.
I’ve got 101 fun, easy, and cheap (or free) ways you can boost your own creative
powers. Some of them are specific creative problem-solving approaches. Some of
them are habits you can develop to be more creative day-in and day-out. Some are
one-offs that are just fun to do.
Ready? Deep breath — here we go!
Annie’s Monster List of 101 Ways to
Get Your Creative Juices Flowing
1. You don’t have to turn the TV off, contrary to most popular advice on the
subject. Simply watch it differently – mindfully, openly, actively. Question plot
choices and acting styles. Pause and challenge yourself to come up with a better
plot twist or to appreciate a particularly lovely composition.
2. Take a different route to a frequently-visited place.
3. Unplug. Spend a little time every day completely away from electronics.
4. Do morning pages.
5. Pick one new piece of produce at the market — something you’ve never tried
before. And eat it.
6. Cultivate mindfulness in everything.
7. If you normally use a dishwasher, once in awhile do the dishes by hand. Or
scrub a floor or a tub — but do it mindfully, focusing on the sensations.
8. Create a new ritual to perform before you do creative work.
9. Take a walk through your neighborhood. Choose a different path than usual.
Pay attention.
10. Take a sketchpad and charcoal pencils to a park or a coffee shop. Even if you
think you can’t draw, draw. Sketch what you see. Don’t aim for accuracy. Just do
short timed sketches of several different views.
11. Make a habit out of being creative and doing creative work. Approach it ritually,
at approximately the same time of day, every time.
12. Think of twenty new uses for a common everyday object.
13. Improve your vocabulary with a word-a-day site or widget.
14. Listen to music that’s unfamiliar.
15. Watch an unfamiliar movie with the sound off. Pay attention to colors, facial
expressions, body language … can you guess what’s going on without hearing
the dialogue?
16. Get a cheap kid’s watercolor paint set and a few different sized brushes. Paint
regularly. Select something unfamiliar to you — a city, a type of flower or plant,
a kind of topography — find an image of it on or Google Images and then
reproduce it. (Constraints actually help free creativity, believe it or not.)
17. Develop the curiosity habit. Carry a small notebook with you all the time and
whenever you hear or read of an unfamiliar person, book, place or subject,
write it down. Then take some time regularly to consult the list and indulge your
curiosity with a little purposeful web browsing (call it “research” if you want).
18. Creativity depends on forming connections where connections didn’t exist
before. So challenge yourself to find at least one new connection between two
seemingly random, unrelated things every day. Example: an apple and the
Eiffel Tower. Or a stormtrooper from Star Wars and a banana. (Can you tell I’m
jonesing for some fruit right now?)
19. Try a different art. If you sketch, write. If you write, dance. If you dance, write a
20. Play around with unusual color schemes on Kuler. Then come up with a wildly
creative name for the new scheme.
21. Recite an unfamiliar poem out loud.
22. Memorize a long complex poem.
23. Play the alphabet game. Come up with a different type of the same thing from A
to Z — animals, colors, cities, occupations, books, names …
24. Pick your favorite medium and your favorite creative piece in that medium.
Then reverse engineer it. Analyze it critically. Understand as much as humanly
possible about the work and its genesis, why it works, why it speaks to you, how
it was made, the artist … then try another, and another. Keep a written record of
this in a separate composition book or journal.
25. Take a classic poem, then make a new one using the old one as a recipe,
swapping out verbs and nouns and adjectives for other verbs and nouns and
26. Challenge yourself with timed writing prompts.
27. Read The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.
28. Go to one of those painted pottery places and paint yourself a new coffee or tea
29. Go to a store that sells essential oils and lets you experiment with them. Create
your own signature fragrance.
30. Learn a new recipe — something more complicated than your usual repertoire.
31. Clean your house. Make your bed, especially. Do it routinely. Creativity likes a
blank slate.
32. Get a big white board and several colors of dry erase markers. Jazz up a list of
pending projects and deadlines with the pens — draw flowers, shooting stars,
rainbows, whatever floats your boat.
33. Get in the doodling habit.
34. Write down your dreams every morning, in as much detail as possible. Our
subconscious minds are The Shit when it comes to putting together unusual
images in unusual ways.
35. Throw a dance party for one in your house.
36. Play with collages — not necessarily as a vision board exercise, just to play with
images, colors, themes, composition … mainly just to play.
37. Next time you wake up at 3 AM, do something different: assume it’s a creative
wake-up call from On High and get your ass out of bed. Get up FOR REAL, and
engage in an artistic pursuit of your choice. Writing is especially attuned to this
exercise, for some reason, but that could just be me.
38. Turn off the TV. Sit and listen — really listen — see how many sounds in your
environment you can identify.
39. Go see a movie by yourself. Experience it like a kid.
40. Find out where and what kind of live entertainment is available in your area. Go
to at least one live event.
41. Go browse in a store you’ve never been in — preferably one that sells antiques
or anything on consignment. Find one item that speaks to you in some way and
create a story in your mind (or in writing) about its history.
42. Or, do the same but this time predict where the item will go next. Where it will
end up.
43. Check out a museum or art gallery. Something about seeing art live and inperson triggers creativity in a way that seeing reproductions just doesn’t.
44. Read Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg.
45. Listen to Baroque music. There’s some evidence to suggest this style in
particular has a beneficial effect on brain waves that impacts creativity in a
positive way.
46. When you’re stuck on a particular project, take a mind-map approach. Handdrawn ones are best, I find, but apps can help make them more manageable.
47. Learn the rules. Then break them. Like Picasso. Emulate a master in your field,
then revisit the same subject matter from a rule-breaking perspective. Like
48. Read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
49. Interview a kid. Present them with a problem (in terms they can understand, of
course) and see how they would go about solving it.
50. Change your environment up. Go to a different location to work. Coffee shop
instead of couch. Park instead of coffee shop.
51. Rearrange your furniture.
52. Think of a problem that you’re facing. Hold it in your head, then turn on the
radio or television. Listen for a message. (Yes, you’re kind of pretending here,
but you will be AH-mazed at how often you actually come up with helpful
approaches you hadn’t considered before.)
53. Take a nap. Every day.
54. Go inventory your wardrobe and list out all the colors you see. Then go buy an
inexpensive piece of clothing — a scarf, t-shirt, socks, whatever — in a color you
don’t see on the list. Wear it. Pay attention to how you feel in it.
55. Pick a color every morning and then throughout the day, see how many times
and in how many contexts it shows up.
56. Set your schedule on its ear. Shower in the afternoon. Have breakfast for
57. Schedule daydreaming time every single day.
58. When you take a walk, set an intention around a problem. Ask for guidance
(from your subconscious brain, if you prefer, or from God, or your Higher Self).
Then put it out of your brain and take a walk.
59. Interview Future (successful) You. Write it all down with a kick-ass headline. Put
a great photo of yourself in it — Photoshop it if you want, but it must “feel” like
you. Then print it out and hang it where you can see it and be inspired by all
that creativity that got Future You where s/he is.
60. With every new creative idea you get, challenge yourself to figure out a way
to launch it immediately. You don’t have to actually do it — just see if you can
figure out how you could do it. Y’know. If you wanted to.
61. When you’re problem-solving, REALLY brainstorm. No editing. Give yourself
permission to write down as many wild-assed, completely impractical ideas as
62. Create an email-free space — also no phones or appointments — every week
at the same time. Set up an appointment with yourself to do some high-level
brainstorming for your business.
63. Whatever huge dream project you’ve got going on — an ebook, a play or novel
in progress, you really want to get back into acting, whatever – make sure you
spend at least fifteen minutes on it every day. Commit to this. NO EXCUSES.
64. Cut out the news-watching and gossip-site-reading. If something’s big
enough, you’ll hear about it. If not, it’s just taking up your mental bandwidth
65. Challenge yourself to come up with five ways to improve something every single
week. Even if it’s just the vacuum cleaner or the schedule at your kid’s school.
66. If you do read news, look for the odd stories, and create a short plotline for a
novel or movie around it. Make it a tragedy. Then turn it into a funny story. Then
turn it into a mystery.
67. Go to a large bookstore and buy a magazine you’ve never read before. Read it.
Every single word.
68. People watch with a purpose. Construct character sketches around the people
you see.
69. Pick a hot button issue on which you have a strong opinion. Research the
opposing position thoroughly. Challenge yourself to see the other perspective. If
nothing else, you’ll be in a better position to destroy ‘em next time it comes up
at the neighborhood bar.
70. Buy fresh flowers “a la carte” and put them together yourself.
71. Play the intuition game. Close your eyes and ask yourself a question. Open your
eyes and pick the first three items your eyes happen to light upon. Find the
answer to the question in those items. You may have to free associate for a bit
for this to work.
72. Read up on your hometown’s history.
73. Play the alternate history game. What would have happened if Lincoln had
lived? If Hitler hadn’t killed himself? If you’d said “yes” to that geek who asked
you to the junior prom?
74. Take a kid to the park and actually play with her. Swing ’til you’re dizzy.
75. Design the ideal day — for your eight-year-old self. Then do it.
76. Think of all the people who tried to rain on your creative parade throughout
your life. Write a response to them all. Pour your heart and soul into it. Tell ‘em
what you really think of them and their uninformed opinions. Then burn it. Let it
77. Challenge your assumptions when you’re stuck. Keep asking “Is it really true
that _____?”
78. Research a specific place you’ve always wanted to visit. Learn its history, its
culture. Find ways to incorporate that place into your life. Cook the food. Listen
to the music. Learn the language.
79. Find the script to your favorite movie online. Watch it with reference to the
script. Pay attention to what the writer intended and what choices were made
by the director, the actors, the composer… figure out how it became the movie
you know.
80. Get in the habit of asking questions, especially open-ended and impossible
81. Before you research those questions you asked, brainstorm possible answers
for yourself. Then do the research and see how close you came.
82. Give yourself to suck at an initial creative attempt. Out loud. In writing. Say, “I
have permission to write a shitty first draft,” as Anne Lamott put it.
83. Drink a large glass of tea or water before sitting down to starting to work on a
creative project. Don’t let yourself get up to the go to the bathroom until you’ve
worked for a certain amount of time.
84. Read Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.
85. Go cloud watching. Make the pictures as complex as you can.
86. Have one place to capture your creative ideas. Take it with you everywhere.
Write everything that occurs to you down — don’t keep anything in your head.
87. Get a set of fridge poetry magnets. Do a poem a day.
88. Try forming a new scent association for creative work. Get candles in one
pleasant scent, and light them when you start working. Save that scent for
creative work. (Then you’ll start to associate being creative with that scent. One
whiff will put you in the mood to work.)
89. Make a creative swipe file. Whatever inspires you, moves you, angers you …
copy it. (Evernote is really good for this.)
90. Have approved distractions — i.e., mini-projects you can work on when you
start feeling a little burned out on your big project.
91. Try stopping mid-stroke or mid-sentence when you’re ready to shut down for
the day. This gives you a place to start next time.
92. Conquer a fear.
93. Play “what if.” Play it a LOT.
94. Redefine sticky problems by trying to explain them to someone outside that
95. Try writing or sketching with your non-dominant hand.
96. Do a “Q&A” with yourself in writing, using two different colors of ink. Write the
question down, then pick up the other pen and write the answer. Aim for freeassociation writing, stream of consciousness style.
97. Go ahead and play Words With Friends or Mafia Wars or whatever competitive
game you like. (Just set a time limit.) Indulge your inner winner.
98. Have a conversation with the dog or cat or fish. Really. Imagine his/her/its end
of it, too. Write it down, even.
99. If you’re being flooded with negative self talk, write it all down. Give yourself
permission to be as down on yourself and your abilities as you like. Wallow in
your fears. Then, declare “enough” and burn that sucker. Let ‘em go.
100.Make a solid commitment to finish.
101.But give yourself as many do-overs as you want and need.
102.Set yourself an impossible and random goal. Something like “come up with 101
ways to be more creative and make the list into a blog post …”
About Annie:
Annie Sisk is the lazy blogger and small-biz genius behind Pajama Productivity. She totally
works in her PJs, though she is looking for a new pair of fuzzy slippers (the last set crashed and
burned, in a manner of speaking).
Create Balance and Harmony Through Creativity
by Michelle Church
Some of the best ideas come as a result of creative thinking when we seek to solve a problem
or issue. Being in an optimal state of mind can only lead to optimal plans. We seek balance
and harmony.
Creativity is about attitude – our perspective. Those disappointing moments or activities can
only get better when we bring creativity into play to address the challenge or challenges.
In many ways, we HAVE to be creative if we are going to succeed in our business and personal
“Creative means: having the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or
possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and
entertaining ourselves. In order to be creative, you need to be able to view things in new
ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you need to be able to generate
new possibilities or new alternatives.”
But wait, are your prepared to be creative? Is there a dark cloud hanging “only” on your head?
Let, it go…time to step it up and help yourself.
In my younger years I was so shy I was not able to look people in
the eye, I always turned away. A friend of mine suggested I take
this new course to expand my mind and overcome fears that lasted
for two very long weekends known as EST.
There were at least 100 people in a hotel conference room for two
weekends, bonding, crying, transitioning. At the end of the course I
walked away on a natural high. I was confident and could look a
person in the eye. What I consistently remember from that
experience is that we create what we want and when we believe it,
it happens.
It was very intense and remains with me all these years later, especially when things are not
going well. They consistently taught us to experience the experience and it will then end.
Walk through it to get over it. It works.
Change your routine – Balance
Have faith in your abilities and the possibilities. Let that awesome side of you take over and
We have to feel positive and have faith to generate new ideas, positive thoughts, and inspire
others. Granted in the normal sense of the word creative, everyone cannot do it, well at least
they think they can’t. Everything we do in life forces us to be creative in one way or another.
We cannot be creative by any definition if we allow the dark clouds to hover. Look at the
various things you do that cause you to procrastinate or think negatively, experience it and let
You know you have the ability to accomplish whatever it is that is needed, after all how did we
get where we are or were? What can you do differently to save time and be more productive
and efficient?
Create that new process in your thinking and actions. The rest will take on it’s own course, but
believe in it first..
Examine what’s going well – Harmony
When things are going well:
● we fall in love
● our business starts to grow
● our energy is at it’s peak
Think about it, we had to be creative to get there before. I bet there is something there that led
you to that success, why not try it again? You thought about it and put action to it right? Okay,
so you can do it.
You decided to open your business or look for that key position...that took a lot of creativity.
Pull from previous experiences and concentrate on those positive thoughts and feelings. It’s
not always easy, but really it is…we always have a choice (even when we don’t want to believe
Think deliberately – Change/Create
To think deliberately means to improve the possibility of new creative thoughts occurring.
Maybe it’s a brainstorming session with people you trust and believe in. They won’t have the
emotions attached, just your best interest. Sometimes its called divergent thinking because
thought patterns and areas of belief are expanded.
Change – open yourself up to it. We get stuck in a rut because we fight change. Create
yourchange that you seek. It doesn’t mean you have to do everything at one time…start with
small changes and see how that works out. If not, change something else.
How does change affect you? What methods do you utilize to spark your creativity?
About Michelle Church
As a marketing support specialist Michelle helps her DIY coaches, authors,
and speakers implement their marketing plans through social networking,
blogs, websites and much more.
Steal Like an Artist
By Nick Armstrong
If you weren’t aware, I’m a huge geek.
In the very rare moments when I have spare time, I like to write Star Trek fan fiction in audio
drama form. Think old-school radio programs like The Shadow and you’ve got the general idea.
Technically, doing that – publishing and distributing a work of fan fiction the way we do it
– breaches all sorts of copyright laws. It’s not like it’s a parody or something that could be
considered protected first amendment speech. It’s copyright infringement, pure and simple
(even though we don’t make a dime from it).
Even so, Paramount and Viacom leave us and others like us alone. Why?
Because we’ve stolen like artists. We might be breaching copyright, but we’re feeding
the beast – the drive to buy the DVDs and costumes and books and movies and pay insane
amounts of money to go to conventions and wait hours in line for a chance to sayhi to William
Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks, and Scott Bakula. We’ve taken our
favorite series and expanded on it. We made our own characters, created our mark on a
universe that was otherwise limited to what you saw on TV and in the movies. We’ve expanded
on the original work, created something new and valuable, and made the original works that
much more powerful.
I’ve taken to licensing most all of my work under Creative Commons. It’s a bolt-on to copyright
– it doesn’t eliminate the copyright you hold on your work, but allows others to remix your
work without having to seek out permission every time. Depending on the license, as long as
they credit you for the original work you did, they can use your work to create new works of
their own. To me, this is the future of creative processes – it’s the start of new markets, new
mediums, new methodologies.
However, it does have a dark side – stealing like an artist can backfire when the new work
devalues or damages the intent of the original. Take the commercials from the car dealerships
featuring loud “occupiers” demanding cheaper cars and higher Miles Per Gallon. When
mindless overspending was partially responsible for the mess that led to the anger which led to
the protests, you’re not doing your business any favors by pretending you understand what the
movement is about.
All of the header photos you see on my blog are Creative Commons licensed. All of the books I
release are Creative Commons. All of my new projects have a creative commons component to
I challenge you to steal like an artist in December – taking the best bits and pieces, mingling
and merging and molding disparate domains of work together into a new, amazingly complex
(Header photo: Sorry Today)
About Nick Armstrong
I’m a Small Business Marketing Expert and Funny
Public Speaker at war with business as usual.
I help make technology less scary for small
business owners so they can swear less and do
If you’re feeling stuck, if business is slower than you
want it to be, if you’re not connecting with your
community in the way you used to, I can help. I find
the broken parts of your business and set them
You can find more about me at IAmNickArmstrong.
Creative Finance That Won’t Get You Arrested
by Nicole A. Fende
When you hear the words creative and
finance together what comes to mind?
Tax evasion?
The Mafia?
Fear not!
I’ve got some great ideas for you and they are all completely legal.
Right Brain Finance – No Jail Time Involved
We’ll cover two common finance problems and then I’ll share my own creative finance primer.
No bail bondsmen required.
Creative solutions to “I can’t afford that”
Barter can be a great way to get the services you need now, even when you don’t have
the capital. Personally I’ve had great experiences with barter. The key is to treat it like
any other contract and client. You are simply cutting out the middle man (a.k.a. the
Almighty Dollar). For a more detailed discussion read my blog post Geometric Barter
Negotiate Payment Terms
What if the payments for the product or service you need could be spread out? Perhaps
a profit sharing arrangement could be made in place of making an up front payment.
As I discuss in a guest post for Dr. Shannon Reece, I firmly believe that Everything is
Perhaps your business is looking to invest in a new technology platform, publish a book,
or even promote a new product line. Then you may wish to consider crowdfunding.
Inspired by crowdsourcing, crowdfunding allows small businesses and entrepreneurs
to leverage the internet to raise funds for a specific purpose. I highly recommend as a great resource for running a campaign.
Creative solutions to “Finance and numbers are BORING”
Give it a theme
Where do you usually see themes? At parties. Creating a theme for your finances or
finance tasks can add some fun. For example, you could make it a murder mystery –
“Who Murdered My Profits This Month?”. How about a scary movie theme? I did this
with my blog post on 3 Easy Ways to Tackle Your Taxes
Get others involved
Hate doing expenses? Have an expense party, virtually or in person. Sip cocktails and
chat while filing away all those pesky receipts. Another idea is to co-opt a t(w)een in your
life. Offer them a $50 iTunes card to get your filing in order.
Stalk The Numbers Whisperer ™
Yes that’s me. And yes I’m usually having that much
fun… talking about finance.
Now you can too!
Follow me on Twitter @NicoleAFende
Become a fan on Facebook
Connect with me on LinkedIn
Or listen to my weekly radio show (infectious laugh
included at no extra charge) on BlogTalkRadio.
Creative Finance Solutions Primer
That’s all great Nicole, but my problem is ________________.
No worries!
Here are some ideas to get those creative juices flowing. Remember when you brainstorm no
idea is bad, silly or wrong. Write them ALL down. You never know which might lead to a viable
Pretend your problem is a board game
What does the board look like? How do you win? What are the challenges? Rewards?
Think Monopoly meets your small biz.
Pretend it’s an episode of Scooby Doo
Scooby and Shaggy always end up in dire circumstances, and then find their way out in
crazy and creative ways. Imagine your problem as an episode, how would they react?
Open Pandora’s (music) Box
Music can really get my creativity cranked up. Visit for some free tunes
randomly selected. Just enter one song or artist to get started.
Final Thoughts
What creative solutions have you used in finance? For any problem facing your business? How
do you spark creativity in your work?
Nicole Fende is The Numbers Whisperer™ and President of Small Business Finance
Forum. As a credentialed actuary with experience as a former Chief Financial Officer,
Investment Banker, and successful entrepreneur, Fende helps her clients reach their
profit goals and learn how to effectively and enjoyably run the financial side of their
business. In her upcoming book, How to be a Finance Rock Star, Nicole shares the
same strategies she uses for her profit coaching clients to help them reach multiplatinum profits.
Read more fabulousness every month at