I wonder if you had this experience. You’ve just told someone that you blog full-time and have them look at you as if to say, “And what do you with the other 23 hours and 15 minutes left over in the day?” That’s because those who don’t blog, don’t realize the kind of preparation and work that goes into publishing posts regularly.

Most people think the notion of creativity and preparation don’t seem to go together. They think that those involved in the creative arts get flashes of inspiration and brilliance which they act upon to unleash their masterpieces. It doesn’t work that way. Creativity is a habit that one must nurture.

Graham Wallas, the English social psychologist and co-founder of the London School of Economics, in his book, The Art of Thought, outlines four stages of the creative process — preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. Today I would like to look at the aspect of preparation.

Creativity Takes Preparation

Preparing for creativity requires time and materials. If you are planning to cook a great dinner and have only two ingredients – say, oil and flour – no matter how creative you are, there’s only a limited amount of things you can make. Similarly too, you need to have the right utensils to cook. In terms of time too, preparation will depend on how many people you are cooking for.

You need to feed your creativity with knowledge about the craft. In the case of blogging, a lot of reading both general and explicit certainly helps. This takes time and materials.

Some ways in which you can prepare to blog creatively:

  1. Read magazines, books, materials about the broad subject of your blog.
  2. Subscribe to and read as many blogs as you practically can. If you’re blogging about about fashion, then subscribe to blogs in that genre.
  3. Use services like Pocket and Flipboard (thanks for this, Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging) or the Evernote Web Clipper app to save reading material and ideas.
  4. Try out other creative pursuits to expand your creativity. Presently I’m using painting and knitting to do this.
  5. Visit cultural centres, go for performances and exhibitions to get a different perspective on creativity. You could even visit Google’s Cultural Institute online to view the work of various artists in different periods.

Do you believe that creativity takes preparation? How do you prepare to be creative?

‘In order to be creative you have to prepare to be creative. No one can give you your subject matter, your creative content; if they could, it would be their creation and not yours. But there’s a process that generates creativity – and you can learn it. And you can make it habitual.

There’s a paradox in the notion that creativity should be a habit. We think of creativity as a way of keeping everything fresh and new, while habit implies routine and repetition. That paradox intrigues me because it occupies the place where creativity and skill rub up against each other.

It takes skill to bring something you’ve imagined into the world: to use words to create believable lives, to select the colors and textures of paint to represent a haystack at sunset, to combine ingredients to make a flavorful dish. No one is born with that skill. It is developed through exercise, through repetition, through a blend of learning and reflection that’s both painstaking and rewarding. And it takes time… If art is the bridge between what you see in your mind and what the world sees, then skill is how you build that bridge.’
– Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit

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As I mentioned yesterday, thanks to the generosity of a blogging partner, I am the proud owner of the workbook for Darren Rowse’s course -’31 Days To Build A Better Blog’. I will be working on this and sharing my learnings with you and ask you for your ideas and feedback through the weeks ahead. I hope the questions I ask you in the course of my learning will help you too, if you are a blogger.

Day 2 -Write a list post – While I’ve put a short list into this post, this is not really a list post. I wrote one the other day though – 7 Practices For Finding Quiet in Chaos. List posts are nice now and then. Personally, I use them very sparingly because they don’t fit all the topics I write about. They’re great for technical blogs and when you have readers that only scan for information.

What do you think about list posts?