Our words are powerful. Those of us that claim to believe that words have the power over life and death (Proverbs 18:21), would do well to speak that way. What we think about influences what we do. What we say and hear influences what we think. Our success starts with how we think about success. Surrounding ourselves with success and positive company fuels our forward movement in our creative endeavors.
We can influence our surroundings by being an encourager. The other artists and craftsmen in our lives thrive on our genuine praise of their work and that influence gives us an atmosphere to thrive in. Understanding the value of creating and improving even by the unskilled helps us speak words that build up people around us. To a novice, simply stating, “I like the direction you’re going with this” will push them to improve faster than explaining the mechanics of their craft. Living and working within a creative environment increases our ability to create value.
We choose. We choose how we speak and what we listen to or filter out. We need support to do our art. We keep going because we see the world differently and would like the world to see beauty as we see it. Yet we cannot do it alone. So we must learn to make an environment that builds us up. That’s started by building up those around you.
In the words of Anton Ego, the critic from Pixar’s Ratatouille,
“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”
Speak well to the creative people in your life. Speak their value.
Sometimes our creative endeavors need a boost or something out of the ordinary to bring a freshness to them. When we get inspired, we inspire others. We create. We grow. We thrive. Routines can dull our creativity.
There’s a myriad of ways to break out of a routine, such as listening to a new genre of music, going for a walk, or simply driving somewhere out of your normal route. One of my favorite ways to liven up my creative mind is to look at an object from a view point I have never looked at before. A camera becomes quite useful to see angles that may be too difficult to see otherwise.
Digital photography has made experimenting with photography cheaper and easier. You can take a thousand photos for that one perfect shot and never spend a cent more than you did for your camera and laptop. Experimenting with macro photography helps us to see the world a little different. It teaches us to develop our composition, texture and lighting using unfamiliar subject matter. The easy experimenting process can help your excitement and creativity grow, fueling the spark.
Prosperity in one’s creative field does not continue at a single level of success. We often have to reinvent ourselves to continue growing and learning in our field. New ideas lead to new sources of income. If you cannot grow and invent, someone else will move into your spot. Complacency is the act of being satisfied with your current success and not reaching for higher achievement. Get out of the rut. Look for something that leaves you awestruck so you can grow and inspire others.
Interruptions to your routine bring great opportunities for creative activities. The unexpected and even disappointing changes in life make some of our most rewarding opportunities. When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he began the most creative time of his life. Steve purchased the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm in 1986. This company, known as Pixar, became a feature film animation studio. You can read about the history and philosophy in Ed Catmull’s book, Creativity, Inc.
My favorite interruption to routine comes in the form of snow days. Growing up, a snow day meant a day of reading something I wanted to read, drawing, painting, walks in the snow and all sorts of fun. Today, not much has changed, except the number of creativity activities I can partake in.
Snow days often mean a loss of opportunity or wages. Our goals frequently have to be put aside at least temporarily. However, the extra time to learn something new or improve a skill increases our opportunity later.
Often, when our nose is to the grindstone and our thoughts are on making a living we miss out on the sublime. It takes an interruption to open our eyes to the beauty around us and our own ability to create something amazing.
Children naturally appreciate the sublime. Pinecones, acorns and all kinds of treasures found outdoors grab their attention. Guiding this curiosity increases their excitement of learning about the world around them.
Birding does not require large investments of time or money. Often a walk down the street or in the park starts a child’s interest in birds. Bird feeders, houses, and walks through known habitats frequently reveal enough birds to create excitement. The excitement grows into questions and quickly adults learn there’s much more to birds than they have answers for. With the help of search engines, bird books, and local experts, a lot of really cool facts can begin more adventures out of doors.
Our own success in birding has come in spurts. Building a starling proof bluebird house was not an immediate success. Attracting sparrows to a bird feeder at times is the norm until that one day something rare is passing by. On the other hand, within 24 hours of putting up a kestrel house, a family of kestrels moved in. A screech owl moved into a house that I built for a pileated woodpecker. Getting our kids excited about birding came easy. That excitement keeps us going.
How does this grow our minds and creativity? Earth sciences and Biology become relevant in the context of nesting, migration, and eating habits, making learning more fun. The process of finding birds makes one more creative in learning the when and where you see the birds. Experimenting with different designs of bird houses and feeders varies the type of birds you see. You can try various forms of bird feed during different times of the year to attract more kinds of birds. I find experimenting with photographing birds a great creative outlet. Often while discussing possible solutions, one of the kids will show startling insight.
Ultimately, learning that success is not immediate and in the expected form we envision is a life lesson everyone needs to be reminded of. However, the excitement of getting there is what life is all about. Guiding kids through this process brings a new excitement of the world around them.