As creatives, we may tend to keep everything we want to do in our brain and not necessarily organized in a way that we can remember and follow. I recently discovered a visible and creative tool to help me keep my ideas and projects organized so that I can move forward with some sense of confidence and order. Creating a Mind Map is one tool that helps me to get the information from my head and out to the universe for me to clearly delineate how my creative projects will flow. It is a great way to include notes for your project as well as visuals that tie it together effectively to literally "map out" your ideas.
Mind Maps are structured to focus from the center...and raidate out using lines, images, words, colors based on simple, "brain-friendly" concepts. The design is based on using information that many of us would use for planning by converting them into a brain friendly way of taking in the steps and processes. There is no real "rule" in organizing your thoughts around the central idea. You can put down any idea that pops in your mind and then organize when it makes sense to include them.
According to Mindmapping.com, there are "Five Essential Characteristics of Mind Mapping" which includes the following:
How to Make a Mind Map
Your finished product should help you visually "map" out your thinking process in reaching your creative goal. Have you ever used mind mapping for your creative projects? How did it work for you? If not is it something you would try? Feel free to comment below.
Artists and other creatives have engaged in a variety of rituals to help them get into the creative “zone”. By engaging in activities to prepare for their creative practice, it helps to signal to the mind and body that serious creativity is about to occur.
First, what exactly is a “ritual”? The definition according to Merriam Webster that is appropriate when it comes to creativity is defined as “an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner.” These are often associated with a religious or spiritual practice but it does not have to be aligned in that way. A ritual can just be specific daily habits that a person does to prepare for the day or to turn in at night. This discussion focuses on those habits or “rituals” a person may do to unblock or recover their creative side.
In the article, Can Rituals Trigger Creative Flow? in Forbes, Andrea Morris highlights a how Francesca Gino, a behavioral scientist at Harvard Business School, characterizes ritual as a pattern of behavior comprised of 3 central components:
Artists and creatives have been engaged in rituals to prepare for their work for centuries. In the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey provides a provocative survey of famous creatives and their daily rituals to prepare for their creative practice. Georgia O’Keeffe would wake up at dawn and make a fire, tea and sit on her bed to watch the sun come up. She often took a half-hour walk in the morning as well. George Gershwin would start the day with the same breakfast, compose work at the piano in his pjs, bathrobe, and slippers, take a mid-afternoon lunch, then a late afternoon walk . Louis Armstrong maintained a pre--show ritual which included arriving at any engagement two hours before starting,” dosing himself with the home remedies he always swore by: swigs of glercin and honey” to prepare his voice and lungs for performance.
For me, I start off lighting incense that gives me a sense of fresh aromatic, creative energy in my studio, followed by my favorite playlist on Spotify or Amazon Music, tea or coffee, and perhaps a snack. I find that if I don’t include at least one of the first three (incense, music or tea/coffee), I cannot concentrate on my writing or my art until all are in place. It signals to me that I am ready to create for the long haul (a couple of hours).
The main advantage of creating some kind of ritual or routine is to do something rather mundane to free yourself to creativity. “The main gist behind a creative ritual, regardless of the actual action used, is that the brain responds very positively to the routine.” states Addison Duvall in the article Developing A Creative Ritual (For Higher Productivity) published on HongKiat. “If you’re wound up about a project and are feeling scatterbrained, having a ritual can help calm you down. Something like meditation, reading, or listening to music can help you focus your mind and eliminate the jitters.”
Do you engage in a habit or some form of ritual to help you unblock and focus on your creative practice? How does it help? Share any thoughts on engaging in a ritual below?
As artists and creatives, it often feels that we are on an island alone, with our desires, dreams and products. Unless your creative practice happens to be one that requires some kind of collaboration with someone else, most of us are solitary in nature as we move across the page, canvas, or other medium to become inspired and productive.
Because of the “culture” and environment of our work often leads us to be alone, connecting with other creatives is something we need to seek and plan for as part of our support system.
One way to get the support we seek, especially from others like us is through some sort of Creative Community. The way they appear and how they work may be varied, but they have one thing in common, an option to provide social, emotional and peer support for our creative work.
I have been a part of a few creative communities….online and in person since I started my regular art practice over ten years ago. They have included art associations, online listserves, artist run galleries and interaction with smaller groups of artist peers from time to time. I have been facilitating The Artist’s Way groups, made up of creatives, using the book by Julia Cameron of the same title. I have found that these groups have not only assisted me in maintaining my creative recovery but also helped to create a bond to peers with similar interests that I may not have ever met otherwise.
What are the advantages of participating in a creative community? Here are some of my thoughts based on my involvement with various groups over the years:
1. Creative communities can provide an opportunity to bounce off new ideas or receive critiques on work. Many of the art associations and groups that I have been a member of provide opportunities for art shares where we receive feedback on what we are working on. These critiques provided by peers in these groups often have guidelines on the kind of comments that is acceptable so it does not end up demeaning someone’s work, but provide healthy feedback to enhance it.
2. Creative communities can provide wonderful opportunities to learn how showcase your creative work. Whether it is an open mic night hosted by the poetry group, art exhibition opportunities, or a musical jam session, these groups often provide members an opportunity to share your creativity with others. In some cases, they may provide you with an educational opportunity as well regarding how to perform in front of a live audience, frame your artwork properly, or give a presentation about your work.
3. Creative communities can provide an opportunity to network with others in your creative industry. Some groups or organizations host professional development activities where industry leaders may attend or present, providing you with an opportunity to meet these people in a more intimate setting. You may also have the option of volunteering to help plan these events where you can interact with a variety of industry heavy hitters as well.
4. Creative communities provide a social outlet with people who “get” you. Ever find yourself at a party or social gathering where people seem question what you actually do as an artist, musician, or maker? Or find yourself among people whose idea of small talk is about something that is so uninteresting, you find yourself drifting off to look at that painting on the other side of the room. As a member of a creative community, you have peers that you can engage in conversations from what type of writing software they use to who edited their last book.
There are so many other advantages to being a member of a writing group, artist association, creativity support group, etc. that makes it worthwhile to connect. Some have fees to join others is open to anyone with an interest. Check out places where other creatives hang out to find out what groups are available in your community or do a few google searches. Meetup.com is one site that has a group for almost every creative practice or interest that meet on a regular basis. Or start your own group and recruit others who have similar interests!
Are you a member of a creativity group or creative community? What has been the advantages of being a member of that group and how has it positively impacted your creative practice?