Tag Archives: creativity

Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box. We’ve all heard the phrase many times. This usually means to think in broad terms, not constrained by the typical answers.

Thinking outside the box is supposed to result in new and creative ways of solving problems.

I’ve been pondering for a while, having once been an overly exuberant advocate of this methodology. If you can even call it a methodology. I stood in countless boardrooms over the years to deliver this “new-fangled” concept to hundreds of people who actually paid to learn how to think outside the box. It’s so hokey. And to think I bought into it, hook, line and sinker.

The key to creativity isn’t thinking outside the box.

It’s getting rid of the box altogether.

Because if you hang onto the box, even from the outside, you are still dragging all your garbage with you. And everything will be filtered through that box. Your old ways of thinking. Your nasty habits. The parts of you that need to be pruned off and discarded once and for all.

Leave the box.

This puts you in a vulnerable position, no doubt about it. There’s nothing to hide behind. Nowhere to climb in and pull the flaps closed. You’re exposed. Open to the elements.

And you’re in exactly the right place for God to do something with you.

I’ve been asking the Lord to show me new ways to do things – new concepts to study and develop, new ideas on how to do what He wants me to do. Much of what He’s pouring into my brain will require great leaps of faith. He’s not interested in my little cardboard box. He’s kicked aside and I can’t even reach it anymore.

So, I am standing out there. Nothing to lean on but the Father. He’s got some pretty awesome things up His sleeve for me, for my family, and for the people in my circle of influence. I’m a little nervous and a lot excited.

Being without the box is true liberty. There is no flimsy false barrier between me and Jesus. The ultimate Creator is working in me and believe me, there is no greater Source of creativity.

Life is so fun!

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

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Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Christian, Faith, God, Jesus Christ, Thinking

The Most Wanted List

Again, I am borrowing from a fellow blogger, Thoughts on Theatre. I couldn’t resist re-posting her blog today, and I extend many thanks to her for allowing me the liberty.

While we have plenty to be afraid of in our daily lives, these seven killers may have never crossed your mind. Mostly because these ones don’t have a face, or even a name. But they are dangerous all the same. Husband and wife team Andrew and Gaia Grant have dubbed them the “creativity killers.”

Our generation has seen a steep drop off in creativity despite access to better resources, quicker communication, and a host of other perks. Meaning that these menacing criminals have already been stalking their prey and getting away with it for far too long. Thanks to the Grants’ book, Who Killed Creativity, we now have a forensic gameplan for how to spot these killers in action and prevent them from committing future crimes.

The best way to stay safe from them out on those mean streets? Use failure as an opportunity to learn, pick a new hobby and don’t give it up until you’ve perfected it, trust your gut, seek out new options, ask for help, take a breath and believe that what you want out of life isn’t as impossible as you may think.


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Filed under Being Creative, Imagination, Writing

Don’t You Get It?

I have already admitted to you that I am a little bit out there when it comes to the way I think, so anything you read in this blog should come as no surprise. Right? I see that a few of you are still withholding your opinions. That’s okay.

Today I tried to explain to one of my co-workers the correlation between tablecloth and caber toss. He didn’t understand. (If any of my children are reading this, they will know exactly what I am talking about.) The poor young man, one whom I thought would be chock-full of imagination, looked at me with a perfectly blank stare. Don’t you get it? I asked him. He shook his head. Meanwhile, another co-worker stepped up to help me out. She had no trouble with the concept. See.

Yesterday, yet another co-worker rendered his explanation of time travel. Don’t you get it? He asked me. I nodded enthusiastically, because what he said made total sense. At least, to me.

It’s along the same lines as the people who live in the trees, but not quite. (This is the point where my children throw up their hands and walk away. Even they aren’t that accepting of their mother’s rather bizarre thought processes.)

What’s the moral of this blog post? Hmm. Not sure there is one. Oh wait! Maybe there is.

Sometimes you have to look beyond what you know to be normal because after all, what is normal to you may not be normal to someone else.

Don’t you get it?


Filed under Being Creative, Imagination, Thinking, Writing

Think Like Me

I’ve discovered that most people don’t think like me. And I’ve also discovered that a lot of people do. Sort of.

Like yesterday. We had a bit of a thunderstorm (a rarity here on the lower west coast of Canada) and having grown up on the prairies where they really know how to do thunder, I enjoyed the rumbling. In the midst of it, I got a text from my daughter saying that Nikolas, her almost three year old, had informed her that the thunder was either green or yellow. I can only assume the color was dependent on the intensity of the sound. We laughed about it, but I realized later that Nik thinks like me. Maybe not in terms of the color of thunder (which I have never thought about), but in principle.

I chose the picture for this post because it is a jumble of multicolored letters and numbers. This is how I think. Letter and numbers have colors, they have genders, and they reside in specific places. I bet you didn’t know that. But before you call the psych squad to come and pick me up, allow me to explain. It’s all a part of the imagination process. While I doubt that an accountant would think of the number 4 as male and red in color, I have no problem with seeing it that way. I’ll even go one step further and tell you that the male, red number 4 has a British accent. He likes to be a closed 4, not open at the top so the cold can get in. He’s quite reserved. Unlike the letter G, who is an orange female who can’t keep her mouth shut.

With this rather over-the-edge post, I have shared a bit of weirdness. For a reason. You are limited only by what you can imagine.

You may not think like me. And some of you are breathing a sigh of relief that you don’t. Or scratching your head about why I do. But you DO think.

May your ideas know no bounds.

Oh yeah. It irks me that the number 4 in the picture is the wrong color.



Filed under Being Creative, Imagination, Writing

Write What You Don’t Know

I have dozens of books on writing. I’ve attended conferences and seminars on writing. I’ve taken writing courses, read hundreds of articles on writing, and even talked to published writers about writing. There seems to be a common thread with all of these resources. They all say write what you know.

Isn’t that just the stupidest thing you ever heard?

The problem is, I believed it for years. Decades, even. I used it as an excuse not to write because I really didn’t know very much, so therefore I wouldn’t be able to write anything worthy of a reader’s time.

I believed a lie.

Okay, okay, I get that you need to know stuff if you’re going to write a technical manual or some such thing. But even with that, you’d be shocked to find out how many of those books and articles are actually written by people who know absolutely nothing about the subject. In my corporate days, we would hire technical writers to come in and write our procedures manuals. We gave them the information. They churned out the books. And they knew absolutely nothing about our business.

I present to you the truth. Write what you don’t know.

In the land of fiction writing, your imagination is your most valuable tool. It’s your survival gear. Without it, you perish. You can’t possibly know everything there is to know about everything. But you can imagine it. You can create it in your mind and bring it to life as you write.

Do you know that the human mind cannot distinguish between something you’ve actually experienced and an experience you’ve vividly imagined? I like that. Because I can, just like that, write about something I don’t know as if it really happened. How sneaky is that?

Now I just need to figure out how to vividly imagine that my house is clean.



Filed under Being Creative, Imagination, Writing

I Wonder

I wonder about things. Don’t you?

I wonder about why someone would ever want to paint their whole house purple when it was a perfectly normal color before. I wonder if the road construction crews working near our home really know what they’re doing because it sure seems like they don’t have a clue. I wonder why people like zucchini so much and I can’t stand the stuff. I wonder what is so fascinating about my leg that makes spiders want to crawl on it – and no, I didn’t scream but I wanted to.

I could go on and on with my I Wonder list, but my kids already think I wonder too much.

Seriously, it’s that sense of wonder that makes for very good storytelling. I can assure you that there is no possible way I could ever attempt to write a fantasy novel without a whole lot of wonder going on. It (the wonder) kicks in when you think you’re going way out there in your writing but then you realize you haven’t gone far enough. That’s when you start getting those “ah-ha” moments. I love when that happens.

Our wondering mechanism can be stifled by life. We get so caught up in the jobs, the bills, the kids, the cars, the house, and everything else that when it’s all done at the end of the day, all we want to do is stare blankly at the TV screen and fall into some kind of comfort coma. It’s comforting, all right. So comforting that we eventually lose our ability to dream and imagine and wonder. I can’t imagine a life less fulfilling.

I wonder . . .


Filed under Being Creative, Imagination, Thinking, Writing

The Progress Process

There are days when it’s difficult to imagine, it hurts to think, and your page stays blank.

Nothing works.


You wish the magic story genie would pop out of your can of diet Coke and tell you what to write. It would be brilliant, of course, and you’d bask in the accolades for the rest of your life.

Doesn’t happen that way.

Creative progress is a process. Just as you can’t whip yourself into physical shape overnight, neither does creativity reach peak condition after one day of hunt-and-peck on your computer keyboard. You have to work at it, exercise it, push it beyond known limits, and fight for every single great idea. The effort, the pain, the struggle will pay off. Really.

Don’t give up.



Filed under Being Creative, Imagination, Writing

The Wednesday Morning Breakfast

For the past six or seven months, my middle daughter and I have spent nearly every Wednesday morning at the same local restaurant. We have our breakfast, then open our laptops to settle in for a couple of hours of work. Jordan does homework (she’s a graphic design student at the Art Institute of Vancouver) and I write. These breakfast sessions have yielded a huge amount of creative harvest for both of us. We have worked through concept statements, plot issues, design ideas, and character development. Sometimes we talk a lot and sometimes we say nothing at all. Today is one of those quiet days.

I think the most important thing about these weekly outings is that I have someone to discuss my writing with. Jordan is a ruthless verbal editor. She will tell me straight up if my idea is dumb (and some of them are) or if it’s completely brilliant (I have some of those too). This is usually the place where my ideas bloom or die.

You need a writer friend. You need to have someone you trust to tell you the truth about your writing. Even if it hurts. I don’t recommend that person be a family member because they will find it difficult to be brutally honest. Jordan is an exception. She’s pretty black and white about everything to everyone, and I know she doesn’t withhold appropriate feedback just because I am her mother. I have other writer friends who critique my work, just as I do theirs. But most of all, you just need a writer friend to support you, encourage you, and kick you in the pants when you feel like quitting. Which is nearly every day.

Find a Wednesday morning breakfast buddy and come on down to see Lisa. She’ll give you the very best service as you get some serious writing done.

 Lisa – the best waitress ever!


Filed under Writing