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Creativity Takes Preparation

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?

33 Comments

  1. Robb Gorringe Robb Gorringe November 26, 2015

    Hi Corinne,

    You’re certainly right about how blogging takes a lot of preparation. In the last month I’ve been seeking to take my blog to a higher level with consistency, transparently, and relatability. I’m not too familiar with list posts. I did check out the link to yours though. Good stuff!

    Robb

  2. Robyn Robyn November 10, 2015

    Corinne, this is fabulous! Creativity is most definitely a process! I don’t know anyone who can want to do something creative without giving it much thought before hand and THEN gather supplies and begin. Often for me, the creative part of me starts, restarts, and restarts again before what I envision is actually in front of me! LOVE IT!

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | November 10, 2015

      I know, Robyn. But sometimes people don’t even begin to explore their own creativity thinking that they have to wait for flashes of inspiration!

  3. Gilly Maddison Gilly Maddison November 8, 2015

    Oh my goodness – creativity certainly does require preparation and for me, it requires being disciplined about clearing up afterwards! My small studio has three areas, a photographic/art area and two writing stations – one Mac and one PC. My biggest problem is that I tend to let ‘stuff’ build up and make the three spaces really untidy. When I finish a shoot, I have to really make myself clear everything away. Same when I have been working on a painting project. Creativity makes me really messy and it is something I fight with all the time!

  4. simple girl simple girl November 6, 2015

    Of course creativity takes preparation.
    It takes practise, patience, reading, learning being open. It is a tough process..
    I think, the most difficult thing is to let go and loose yourself in the process regularly to come up with something beautiful and it does require effort… So much effort…

  5. Anna Welliver Anna Welliver November 5, 2015

    I always get asked about what I do and why… Some people do not understand how the writing process works…

  6. Parul Parul November 5, 2015

    You spoke my mind. Recently I have been seeing people assume that writing is like a cake walk. No – it needs time to bake it in something that’s good enough for the world. It cannot be some gibberish. And writing everyday is certainly not easy. Great post and i loved the list you have put in there for us πŸ™‚

  7. Rajlakshmi Rajlakshmi November 4, 2015

    I am still marvelling at the paradox πŸ™‚ I never thought it that way, now that I think about it, yeah it does require preparation. Atleast to clear out my mind and sort out timings. I feel list posts are good for random musings or “top ten” kind of posts.

  8. Sunaina Sunaina November 4, 2015

    It is a tough job to write. And it is also a ‘lonely’ job. You need to be in your ‘thoughtful’ world to be able to write. Ideas come and go and it is difficult to keep track of all that you wanted to write. And at the same time, you need to be receptive to the outside world to let nurture your creativity.

  9. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando November 4, 2015

    Corinne, I spend hours ruminating upon a blog to pen before I even begin writing. Often, I’ll have a flash of inspiration that speeds up the process, but most times, I have to do some mulling over in my mind; and then, it’s finding a scripture to match the subject, which is not always easy to do, but I love it anyway!
    Blessings to you!

  10. Laurie Stone Laurie Stone November 3, 2015

    Blogging is a hard, but fascinating, commitment. I admit I do use the “How to” and List points frequently. I agree not everything fits in that way, but if it does, I use it.

  11. Vinitha Vinitha November 3, 2015

    Yes, I agree, people just don’t get how much work goes behind a presentable post. Creativity needs preparation. time, resources and the right mind frame too. How many “brilliant ideas” had born in my mind and just didn’t see the light of day because I thought of writing them 5 minutes later! πŸ™‚ List post is easy to read but not all posts can be made into a list post. πŸ™‚

  12. Linda Hobden Linda Hobden November 3, 2015

    It’s hard for a non blogger to realise that a blogger lives & breathes blog 24/7!
    As regards, to list blogposts – They do attract a lot of readers but sometimes it can get a bit mundane if all your posts are list posts – variety is the spice of life so they say! Over the 4 years I’ve been blogging I rarely do a “list” post – only if I need a quick post filler or in August as a respite from interviewing

  13. richa singh richa singh November 3, 2015

    Tell me about this. People can never understand that a writer and especially a blogger (because of the interaction involved) is a very time consuming job- in a good way of course. Like you mentioned the other day in your post where while you were at a salon getting a haircut and engaged yourself onto listening around. A writer can never stop working. period.

    And list posts, good every once in a while but I use like you very rarely.

  14. Laurel Regan Laurel Regan November 3, 2015

    I often think that if I got paid for all the hours I spent blogging I’d be able to quit my day job! πŸ˜‰ Love the idea of using other avenues to nurture creativity. Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Anna Palmer Anna Palmer November 3, 2015

    I absolutely LOVE the cooking analogy. I couldreally only make paste with oil and water. And it wouldn’t even taste as good as the paste in preschool!

  16. Rena McDaniel Rena McDaniel November 3, 2015

    My family is often surprised at how much work actually goes into each and every post. Loved this piece Corinne Some really great tips!

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | November 3, 2015

      My husband got a taste of this when we both blogged for a challenge on another blog, Rena. Now he knows! πŸ™‚

  17. Wendy Tomlinson Wendy Tomlinson November 3, 2015

    I love this post and I love connecting with other bloggers who really do get what is involved.

  18. Roy A Ackerman, PhD, EA Roy A Ackerman, PhD, EA November 3, 2015

    Well, I can say that many a blog take only two 15 minute segments. (That’s the 15 minutes it take to pen it to ether, and then the 15 minutes to review it for content and readability the morning it exits the queue.) Because the time i spend reading and researching (and maintaining the data base of knowledge on my network) would be spent anyway.
    Yet, realistically, I know each blog manifests about 100 minutes of effort- from research to queue- and that is once I’ve decided which nugget I wish to share.
    Great piece, Corrine.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | November 3, 2015

      I agree, Roy. The actually putting down doesn’t take as long as getting my thoughts together, making sure the links I’m sharing actually work, and finding or creating the right image….
      Then there’s the whole social media business which is quite another story.
      Thanks for stopping by. I always value your comments.

  19. Talya Tate Boerner Talya Tate Boerner November 3, 2015

    Oh, yes, I can so relate to this. A family member recently asked me, “So how do you like retirement?” I nearly choked. To so many people, working from home and blogging means not working at all. I work harder than ever. Love your post and your creativity!

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | November 3, 2015

      You bet we work so much harder now. The hours I keep sometimes! πŸ™‚

    • Wendy Tomlinson Wendy Tomlinson November 3, 2015

      I absolutely relate to this. When people ask what I’ve done on a particular day and I say “I wrote a blog post, uploaded a video to YouTube, promoted them and interacted with other Bloggers and YouTubers… They look at me in total confusion or they look like they’re waiting for me to say, oh and then for work I did…

  20. Alana Alana November 3, 2015

    I am intrigued by using other creative processes to improve your blogging. Up to now, I’ve used photography. I may start to use adult coloring – not the books no so popular in the United States, but perhaps creating my own doodles. I need a good stress reducer, too.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | November 3, 2015

      I’m not sure how it works exactly, Alana, but the painting and knitting have helped me get more creative with my writing. Have you tried Mandalas – they’re a great way to de-stress.

  21. janice Wald janice Wald November 3, 2015

    Hi Corinne!
    Thank you so very much for the link and the shout out!
    I laughed when I read your first paragraph by the way. What do you do with the other 23 hours… Blogging is so time-consuming.
    I loved your tips on how to foster creativity in a blogger. Great post great ideas.
    Thanks for thinking of me when you composed your article.
    I am so flattered.
    Janice

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | November 3, 2015

      I must give credit where it’s due, Janice! Glad you liked the post too.

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