Tag Archives: creativity

9 Tools That Will Help You Become a Better Writer

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For many of us in the writing business – whether writing fiction, non-fiction, academic papers, copywriting, business proposals, or simply writing for fun – we often focus on the creative process and constantly think about ways to be more creative/productive. However, from a technical standpoint there are numerous software programs out there that help grease the wheels of the creative process, improve your grammar, and force you to meet goals (one program actually erases everything you’ve written if you don’t reach your word count/time target!)

A thoroughly eye-opening piece was published on medium.com (@Medium) today on how to sharpen and hone your skills as a writer through computer programs. Titled “9 Tools That Will Help You Become a Better Writer,” it’s worth checking out, especially if you find yourself lacking the drive to write or could simply use new ideas on how to come up with fresh ideas.

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The Art of Being Artistically Artistic

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Thomas Oppong has some advice for all you go-getters out there who are afraid to dive into that pool otherwise known as creativity. In his piece entitled “Here’s Why You Might Be Afraid to Live a More Creative Life,” Mr. Oppong sums up, quite neatly, what deters many of us from pursuing that creative element he believes is inherent within us all. In five short and sweet bullet points he claims this has to do with:

1. You’re afraid you have no talent.

2. You’re afraid your best work is behind you.

3. You’re afraid of being rejected or criticized.

4. You’re afraid your ideas are not good enough.

5. You’re afraid someone else has done it better.

Apparently “afraid” is le mot de jour here, and everyone who’s pursued a career in any field of creativity – whether painter, PR spin doctor, magician, hair stylist, rocket scientist – knows how hard and bumpy the ride is early on in your career.

On a personal note, I equate flexing that creative muscle and exhibiting your final product in public to taking off your clothes and standing buck naked at a major intersection during rush hour; no doubt it’s going to be hard/embarrassing at first.

However, as someone who’s been in Teddy Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena for a decade and a half, I can assure you that it does (I promise) get easier over time. Perhaps “easier” is not the right word, but at the very least it becomes less painful.

In the spirit of October baseball fever, an analogy that comes to mind is something Goose Gossage said back in the ’70s when he came in to relief pitch in a huge post-season game and was crappin’ his pantaloons he was so scared. Knees-a-shakin’, he turfed his first couple of pitches before telling himself in a moment of quiet reflection (quiet, of course, being measured against 50,000 people screaming all around you), What’s the worst that can happen? If I drop the ball on this one, I’ll be back home tomorrow at my beautiful house in Colorado.

That’s kind of the same way I look at my own writing all these years on. The worst that can happen is that someone doesn’t like it, but as long as you pour your heart and soul into it, there’s nothing to be scared or ashamed of when showing off your creativity to others. Best case scenario? The world falls in love with what you’ve produced, you make bank on it, become a superstar in your field, and have an A-List Hollywood actor play you in the film version of your life.

Not so bad, me thinks.

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Keys to Increasing Creativity

Larry Kim wrote a very direct and useful guide for ways in which to increase your creativity. Essentially, he reminds us that the brain is a muscle. Ergo, treat it like your bis, tris, delts, quads, etc. Work it out on a daily basis and aim to make it stronger by constantly pushing it to its limits.

His piece is directed as much at artists as it is at scientists and business people. You can read the full article here, but I’ll summarize his nine points below.

1. Learn through Collaboration

Talk to and learn from others, especially when you get stuck being innovative and creative. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also leads to creativity.

2. Do Something You Love

As Einstein once wrote to his son about playing the piano, “That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

Love and creativity are one and the same.

3. Find Inspiration from Other Industries

Don’t imitate, innovate. Finding that elusive je ne sais quoi can sometimes be found in a completely different field or area of industry.

4. Unplug (Or Just Do Nothing)

Bestselling author Alan Cohen (Why Your Life Sucks) once wrote, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

5. Walk

Research shows that walking heightens creativity. Stephen King has long known that (which is also how he got hit by a car and nearly died), but today major business leaders will hold “walking meetings” because they realize the value of this simple yet healthy way to flex that muscle between your ears.

6. Set the Right Mood

Listen to music. Personally, I listen to music when I write, edit, translate, send emails or do anything connected to work.

As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”

7. Use the Six Thinking Hats Technique

As Larry Kim put it, “Sometimes you just need to start over. Forget everything and begin anew with a blank slate — break it down using six different colored ‘thinking hats’.

Using this process could help you look at things in a different way. It gives you the option to look at things in a “just the facts” manner (white hat); where things could go wrong (black hat); and possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas (green hat), for example.”

8. Ask For Advice or Feedback

Ditch the insecurity. If you’re insulted or scared to ask for advice or suggestions from peers/friends/colleagues/family members, follow Australian comedian Chopper Reid’s advice and harden the **** up.

9. Pick a Terrible Idea

Larry Kim explains: “Step away from whatever idea you’re stuck on for a few minutes. What’s the most useless idea you can imagine? Make a list of the worst ideas you can think up.

Now the real challenge to stretch your creativity: What are the best features of these terrible ideas?”

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