Archive for the ‘daydreaming’ Category

The benefits of working with limitations

In most of our ‘everyday’ projects we are forced to work within constraints of time, materials, skills and budgets, as well as a range of highly specific client needs, giving very little room for experimentation – the focus is on delivery. When we’re experimenting creatively we don’t need to be anywhere near as rigid, but working within constraints is an excellent way to channel and focus our creative efforts.

 

Creativity Quotes

Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem. – Rollo May

 

Shakespeare wrote his sonnets within a strict discipline, fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, rhyming in three quatrains and a couplet. Were his sonnets dull? Mozart wrote his sonatas within an equally rigid discipline – exposition, development, and recapitulation. Were they dull? – David Ogilvy

 

The benefits of working with limitations

Working within a set plan is as critical to developing our creative experience as the aimless doodling we’ve discussed in previous newsletters (Relaxing into Creativity). It offers us the opportunity to put into practice the abstract discoveries captured from our non-focused contemplations, and stretches our responses, ironically forcing us to be more innovative, rather than less.

 

If we don’t have specific imposed constraints, one nice approach is to copy the way children make up rules for their games. These ‘rules’ generally take a reasonably simple exercise which offers little sense of accomplishment in itself but by adding daring elements and time limits, turn it into a series of challenges to pit their wits against. 

 

In a creative project, these rules create a kind of lens, temporarily distorting the way we view the world, focusing our attention to ‘draw out’ our creativity as we rise to the challenge of examining and representing our world from a new perspective. 

 

We also feel invigorated by overcoming challenges, and as we go along, set ourselves new and more stimulating ‘rules’ that allow us to grow from strength to strength. 

 

By forcing us to go beyond our comfort zone, these imposed ‘strictures’ allow us to experiment, push ourselves a little bit further, develop confidence in our ability to meet challenges, and develop whole new lines of interest.  

 

Wishing you all a stimulating and invigorating May.

Working Creatively with Dream Images

This month’s theme was inspired by a strange image in a dream I had recently. Our dream images are layered with information from every aspect of our lives, and when we’re stuck for inspiration, catching even a fragment of a dream can lead us down a whole new path of self discovery.

Creativity Quotes
Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning – Gloria Steinem

They say dreams are the windows of the soul – take a peek and you can see the inner workings, the nuts and bolts – Henry Bromel

Working Creatively with Dream Images
We use our dream images to make sense of our daily lives, to bring important issues to our attention, and remind ourselves of directions that are valuable to us. We do this by using highly personalized symbols, the products of our education, our experiences, and our most fleeting conscious perceptions, all mingling to form symbols that have meaning for us uniquely.

As the creative products of our psyche making sense of the world around us, these images are goldmines for accessing our creativity. But because they’re so dense, it’s often hard to access their meanings. Similarly, if we try to define a single “message”, the richness of the image can be lost.

So how do we make use of our dream symbols?
I particularly like the term “mining” images for meaning. Here are some questions that will help dig out some significance:

  • What is the image?
  • What feeling does it create?
  • What associations spring to mind?
  • Does the image have any universal symbolism?
  • What’s unusual about it, and what could this mean?

Picking out common threads can bring awareness to themes that are hidden below the surface of our consciousness. Focusing on small details and specific images can heighten our awareness of their meaning in our lives.

Dream images take us beyond logic, and allow for very open ended interpretations. Sometimes we can clearly identify a particular theme, but it’s important to avoid tritely pinning down a single explanation. Once we’ve identified a set of elements as a composite image, we give it the chance to build up meaning, becoming a complete symbol in itself, which can recur for future insight. And loosed from the realm of the dream, dream symbols can take on meaning in our conscious lives as well.

Our dreams are a window on the more mysterious aspects of our soul. When we pay attention to them, they provide us with an endless supply of inspiration for creative and personal growth.

Wishing you all a dreamy, insightful April.

Two Websites Worth Visiting

Great news for the Tapping Into Creativity newsletter is that we’ve been featured on a fantastic site – Creativity Portal. This is a Portal in the true sense, bringing together a huge variety of creative resources, and also features a great monthly newsletter that’s worth subscribing to.
You’ll find the link to our newsletter here, and we’ve already had some traffic – Hello to all our international readers!

And another great idea is Dream Big. It’s an O-Magazine initiative, giving South Africans a chance to put our most inspiring dreams into action – for ourselves, people we know, or our communities. A little assistance like this goes a long way, and I’ll certainly be submitting my big idea…

Making Space for Daily Creativity

One of the difficulties we have with bringing creativity into our lives would seem to be the lack of creative projects available to us in our daily lives. A nice solution to this lies in looking at all aspects of our lives as part of one big creative project, and making the time to reflect on how we can bring creativity to what we do. 

Creativity Quotes
In my early life my mother tried to create a nurturing environment in which my mind could play. Her big rule was “Never lose in your imagination.” She told me that thoughts were things and that I would become the thing I thought of most. This kind of empowerment is crucial to creative thinking. – Joey Reiman, Founder of Ideation

I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life. – Miles Davis, Jazz Musician 

Making Space for Daily Creativity
Each of us is unique, and when we celebrate this, we encourage our creativity to flow. When we’re feeling special about ourselves, we have the most reverence for our ideas, and are able to give them full rein.  

I like the idea of creating a sanctuary space for yourself. This can simply be a space of time that you keep, or a physical space decorated to make you feel comfortable and remind you of the things that are truly important to you. Use this space to focus on how you can bring your creativity to meet your day to day needs.

 Although many of us feel panicky at the thought of making extra time, doing this will create the beneficial space we need. Nurturing yourself allows you to nurture the ideas you have, encouraging play between your imagination and the demands of your projects. And making time for creative play puts us in tune with our authentic and creative self, allowing us to resolve challenges faster – which makes more time for ourselves. 

Another significant benefit is that the quality of what we achieve is immeasurably improved when we bring our unique insights and ideas to the work we do – no matter what size budget we have. The results carry our personal touch, and each time we approach a project with this creative aspect, we get to know ourselves and our skills better, and grow in authenticity. 

And when you’re contemplating your tasks and projects in this sanctuary-like space, you can allow your imagination to extend – thinking best, not necessarily big. What would your most ideal solution for this challenge be? Don’t be limited by what you think you can do – before you bring in the practical constraints, take the opportunity to dream of the most interesting and satisfying possibilities. Once we’ve developed a new idea of what can be done, we can come back to the drawing board and apply our capabilities and resources to achieving the most viable solution.  

And because each of us is unique, no two solutions are the same, allowing abundant opportunity for personal expression in our daily life.

 May you find many new avenues of expression.

Capturing fleeting impressions

Hi Everyone
It’s commonly assumed that you need to be creative to attempt any of the arts, but it’s more true to say that we need artistic media to be able to give shape to our creativity. Personal creativity is about capturing fragments of thoughts, focusing on them, and paying enough attention to allow them to reveal the reason for our fascination – a clue about ourselves.

Creativity Quotes
Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it – William S. Burroughs 

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift – Albert Einstein 

Capturing fleeting impressions

Why are drawing, photography, theatre, music and writing important for creativity? Because these media allow us to capture the fragment – to truly bring to life ideas that exist only around the edges of our imaginations. Without needing to have any one purpose, these pieces of  artistic expression fill a function nowhere else seen in daily life: just to expand our knowledge of ourselves.

Artistic freedom gives us the opportunity to come face to face with these snippets, to give them form and life outside of our minds’ eye, and therefore to engage with them in a meaningful way. Short bursts of poetry, a line describing the energetic push of a tree, or a branch through space – these quick sketches connect us to a deeper aspect of ourselves, and help us to get a handle on emotions that are otherwise obscured by the mundane day-to-day of what we call ordinary life. When we acknowledge them and pay attention to them, they are our clues about our true feelings, a kind of inner compass for direction.  

When we encounter the works of others that resonate with us, art both illuminates the shared human experience and elucidates our personal stories, broadening our scope for understanding ourselves and each other.  This is also why states such as meditation and daydreaming are important: these states create the spaces in which our minds are receptive to the impractical and irrational, when we are able to grasp those fragments of thoughts and feelings.

One way of bringing this practice into daily life is to take 20 minutes of your day to just sit and relax, watching the world go by (I like to do this over lunch, making sure I get a real break even if it’s short). Try to find one object each day to contemplate, from a stone to a tree to the patterns on a building. 

Paying attention to what appeals to you about it, what doesn’t, and what particular thing/s you notice about it, provides a framework for catching those edge-type thoughts unawares. Writing is one of the most powerful tools for this, where we often surprise ourselves with observations and opinions we hadn’t been conscious of thinking. Lurking just beneath our standard, ‘set’ thoughts lie a wealth of questions, queries and impressions waiting to be engaged.

As you embark on your creative journey, may your captured impressions become insights that transform the routine into a daily adventure.

Relaxing into Creativity

We’ve talked a lot lately about things you can do to stimulate your creativity. One of the hardest things about creativity is to let it come naturally – but encourage it to do so! 

Creative Quotes
So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. Brenda Ueland  

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. Ray Douglas Bradbury      

Relaxing into Creativity
Once we’ve started thinking creatively, we need to find a way to get those ideas and expressions going – but often find it very hard to make time to do. 

The secret is often to stop doing just for a little while, either once a week, or daily if you can. We tend to be so busy these days that it’s really difficult to make time for extra activities; this is part of the trick in surprising our creativity. Instead of scheduling a specific time, try to become conscious of when you’re doing something just to fill time. You may find that you do the same kinds of activities here – things that should be fun but really aren’t that rewarding.We always have plenty of things we tell ourselves we should do, but when we’re filling time we’re looking for a break from all that. This is really special time for us, when we’re receptive to something new and our imaginations are actually humming. When you catch yourself in these moments, instead of reaching for the remote, try stopping everything and staring out the window instead, allowing yourself the space to relax and daydream.  

If you have a creative activity on the go, it helps to have your materials close at hand, because after about 5 minutes of daydreaming, I find I remember the ideas I wanted to try out and experiment with, and start wondering how things will turn out if I use orange instead of red, or a high angle instead of a low angle, and so on. Without forcing it, eventually curiosity overcomes daydreaming, and it’s easy to get to work. 

If you’re stuck on how to prompt your creative musing, try focusing on something you’ve recently discovered you’re curious about, or pick an image from the day and think about why it’s important to you. As you float from image to image, you may begin to pick up a story. 

The trick then is to follow it up, so whether you’ve been ruminating over the different kinds of packaging soup comes in, or how your song would sound with a trumpet, go and have a look at the shelves (if you have a camera, take pics!) or spend some time listening to different trumpet sounds and styles. 

This research step fills our imagination with a myriad of new possibilities, all of which we process while we’re busy with the rest of our routine activities. As we digest them, the next unplanned ‘quiet’ time will give us the opportunity to expand and take the next step.  

It’s not a logical, planned process with a clear beginning and end, it’s a route to our intuitive and creative selves, and taking the ‘zen’ step of non-doing is one of the most effective means of getting there.  May your creative musing lead to fascinating new places.