Creating Creativity

Erik Cooper —  August 1, 2011 — 2 Comments

I’d like to tell you I’m some kind of creative juggernaut, but that in itself would require some creativity (some might call it lying). For me at least, creative energy doesn’t emerge from a dispenser like pressing the button on a soft-serve ice cream machine (mmmmm, chocolate-peanut butter swirl).

I have to work for it.

And some days more than others.

Some people may belch creativity (like that imagery?). Not me. But I have learned a few things about my own creative process that I thought might encourage you with yours, whatever it is you create.

1. Contend for It

I spent a lot of time waiting for inspiration. A feeling. That ambiguous moment of aha! where creative genius gushes out on the floor and ruins your shoes. It rarely comes. In fact, that creative “gusher” you’re waiting for usually lies underneath about 7 or 8 layers of hard rock (called comfortable and lazy).

I’d much rather mindlessly answer emails and listen to ESPNRadio (at least there’s NFL news, right?), than craft, dream, and brainstorm. That takes work. Worse yet, it takes risk. What if my creation, well, sucks? Let’s just see what’s on Facebook today.

(CONFESSION: I’ve side-tracked into messing with a batch of iPhoto pics I just imported multiple times while writing this post!).

On occasion, you might accidentally stumble into an explosion of creative energy, but I’ve found that to be rare. You’ve got to dig for it. Contend for it. Pick up your tools and get to work. That geyser has a much better chance to erupt if you cut away some stone and release the pressure. Come on, sweat a little!

2. Give It Some Space

Once I’ve gotten my lazy butt to creatively engage, I have to give it some space. The concept for my last message at City Community Church emerged from three hours of perspiration and hard labor with my Bible and a white board. The remaining creative inspiration came while I was standing in line for popcorn at the movie theater later that night. The heavy lifting made the “aha moment” possible.

I’ve polished up blog posts at the Children’s Museum.

Sermons walking the canals.

Songs in the bathroom (seriously, but I’m not telling you which ones).

When I contend for creativity, the hard rock eventually gives way and I strike oil. And usually at the most unexpected times.

Everything in you wants to create. It was passed on in the DNA of your Creator. But it doesn’t just magically emerge. It’s hard work. Contend for it, then give it some space. I bet you’ll be surprised at what emerges.

Those are a few things I’ve learned about my creative process. What’s yours?

2 responses to Creating Creativity

  1. Hi!

    Thanks for this! It’s a hard truth that’s dipped in chocolate! (Love the way you do that)….I was recently talking to Brett about this also. I’ve found it can be like this when you are operating in the gifts of the spirit too. Sometimes an entire prophetic message just flows, and sometimes you really have to work for it and aren’t even sure if you are on it until it is confirmed because the process was so labor intensive, and might seemed contrived.

    Sometimes the best things take serious effort to forge, and I don’t really like that! Instead, I like to imagine and hold onto the idea that creativity is like a romantic comedy and unravels just fine in an hour and a half… 🙂

    You blessed me again! Thank you friend!

    • I like that imagery…that “creativity is like a romantic comedy and unravels just fine in an hour and a half.” I think we all want it to be that way…

      …it’s just not. (For me, at least).

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