“Offers – Creating Creativity” – Don Charisma’s Opinion

The Improv methods and techniques of creativity that I’ve learnt specify taking the first idea that comes into one’s head and running with it. Working collaboratively with another improviser these are called “offers”. The other improviser gives you an idea and you accept their idea and expand on it. We call it “Yes, And’ing”, yes I accept your offer, and I will expand on it, make it my own.

This post was inspired by a reader asking me a question. I took her “offer” and went, yes I’ll run with that (and add to it). It was literally the first comment I read when I woke up.

Our imaginations are more powerful than most people could possibly conceive. I often utterly impress myself with what comes out of my mouth or onto a page or art/design. Did I just create that, wow, no idea how I did it, but I did.

“Yes, and’ing” is one of a range of techniques used by improvisers to unlock this power. And again I’ll re-iterate, it’s super-duper powerful, awe-inspiring really. Direct line to god – perhaps, I’m not religious so couldn’t verify that one.

OFFERS – CREATING CREATIVITY

My reader has let me know they’ve been taking a break, and then :

“On a different note, being a writer, do you ever go through personal issues where you just don’t have it in you to write anything? If so, how do you deal with those times?”

REST

Sometimes we need to rest. Could be that we’re tired, bored, stressed or sick. Best to rest at those times and not to force creativity. If one is working through strong emotions anger, grief, sadness, depression etc, possible it’s time to take time to work through those emotions privately rather than creating. It may be that external help may be needed for instance for depression, in which case seek out a professional.

I’ve often found after a good sleep that I’ll wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to create awesomeness all over again.

So get good rest, the body and mind do need it, often and regularly.

It also could be during these times that WE CAN be creative, so try and do a little, if it isn’t working, then stop and go back to rest. Or do something else instead. Don’t “force the funny” when you are not up to it. Just rest, take care of yourself, watch a movie and eat a pizza.

Also I’ve done a number of prompts that were designed to work with difficult emotions for instance “Fear” and “Insult” for instance. My point is that sometimes I use my internal storms as an aid to my creative process NOT a hindrance.

Lastly – Your creative awesomeness has not left you permanently, just temporarily whilst you rest or work through other things, you may need your creative power for that instead anyway.

(This is my answer to my reader’s question)

ACTIVITY

(To “yes, and” my reader’s question – expanding on my own creative process)

I find that my imagination can be super active when I go out for a walk. Others might like to go the gym or a swim, whatever “floats your boat” really. My walk tends to be reasonably vigorous, and I’ve taken the time to load my top 1500 songs onto my iPhone, so generally my music is blaring.

Sometimes, well often in fact, I just step outside the front door, and the stagnation and boredom just fall away. I think some people call this “being pumped”, although never quite got on with that expression. All I know is that I FEEL GOOD.

I can “be in” my imagination, I can build cities or plan a piece of writing in great detail. It’s a virtually effortless process, although I do have to “steer” or otherwise I’d just be imagining myself as Hugh Hefner, and well, after one’s done that 99 times or so, it’s not as much fun.

If I have a busy day on the blog I’ll be looking at what “offers” I’ve had within myself, or maybe my surrounding give me. A lot of my prompts come from things that I’ve experienced myself directly that day. I plan a little how I will write it out. Same with opinion posts. Same with everything on my blog.

That doesn’t mean to say it’s fully written in my imagination, still have to do that when I get home. But the ideas are formed and grown in my imagination first like this.

Ever seen “Iron Man”, when he has all those screens and his talking computer. It’s akin to that when I’m out walking, not exactly the same and no I didn’t get the idea from the movie, but it’s a good analogy to explain what I mean.

I read once somewhere “motion creates emotion” …

ACTUALLY CREATING FROM IMAGINATION

So let’s take my ideas from my walk. I really need to start work on them right away – sometimes they can fade quickly. So I sit down and start with whichever I idea I want first. I’ve put a couple of ideas together in my imagination. For example’s sake let’s call it “Being An Individual”, a short piece of writing with pictures.

I choose to look for photos first (could easily do it the other way around). Go to stock library (morgueFile is free), I search for “individual” or “alone” or similar words. I come across a photo – black and white with one red strawberry. Bang, job done.

For the writing I’ve got it semi-planned already “in my head”, I’ve worked the concepts in my imagination already. Best personally for me is in WordPress editor, open that, start writing the ideas down, not concentrating on order, sequence, headings etc, FORGET STRUCTURE focus on the content. I just write and write until you have no ideas left. Then it’s partially done, I put the structure in move bits around, correct typos, add pictures.

I DON’T PLAN TOO MUCH IN THE INITIAL WRITING PHASE, GETTING THE IDEAS DOWN IS CRUCIAL, I DO THAT FIRST

 

Then refine, refine, refine. Add forgotten ideas in, expand on ideas which one didn’t do so well with first time round. I keep polishing and smoothing my creations until they are GOOD ENOUGH. Perfection is a high ideal, and generally I don’t reckon we need to get there. Just be pretty good, is good enough.

Higher standards come easily with repitition and practice anyway, so be patient and keep doing what works.

Now I have a little written piece “Being An Individual”, with a photo of a solitary red strawberry amongst the black and white ones. Publish or print out and frame. Perhaps it’s a short story for a book, in which case file with my others.

Job Done.

OVERCOMING INTERNAL OBJECTIONS

Sometimes I need to push myself past my own “complaints” – “I don’t feel like going for a walk today” or “I’m bored/tired I’m not really enjoying it”.

I use caution with these. I will push myself (quite often) past my own complaints. But sometimes the complaints are VALID, sometimes it means I need to eat, rest or do something else in order to look after myself. I don’t go by the PUSH PUSH PUSH too much, for this reason :

TO MUCH PUSHING when I REALLY REALLY don’t want to do something, can create an internal block. This block may mean that in future I don’t want to do the same thing, with even stronger internal complaints coming up. OR I just won’t get the idea to do it again. This is a harmful aspect of pushing oneself TOO HARD/TOO MUCH.

Also there’s a potential for “burn out”, creatives that push themselves too long and too hard, can become burnt out. This can mean days of being very low on energy and not being able to do anything. So whilst it’s fun and enjoyable to create, we need to bear in mind to try to incorporate routine, regular rest etc.. BASIC SELF-CARE is a must.

So largely I trust my “instincts” about when to do things and when not. Sometimes I do have to PUSH myself hard to do something, but I tend to save that for when it’s more a matter of life and death than a piece of creative writing or art or design. For instance – if in 8 hours I need to be at the airport for a flight, I have 6 hours of packing left to do and a 2 hour journey, but I really want to sleep. Then I’ll do the packing, and get myself ready for the flight, not sleep. Relax a little bit on the journey, try and sleep on the flight.

The bottom line I think is sometimes we need to push ourselves to light the touch paper of passion. Other times we need to leave the touch paper alone and do ordinary normal stuff. The ordinary normal stuff supports our creative activities, they don’t exist separately. Balance, or as best balance one can achieve, no one’s perfect !

SUMMARY

I’ve learn’t my own creative process borrowing ideas from many places. I’ve found a real gold mine for writers, artists, performers, bloggers is in the Improv techniques that are used by actors and comedians. These techniques are very accessible, and I like them because they are child’s play simple. No University degree needed, “Yes, and” being something anyone can learn in 10 seconds flat. Closest thing to a magic pill? – yes in my mind, Improv is a magic pill for creatives, writers especially should be looking at these techniques.

I think the Improv techniques are applicable TO ALL CREATIVE DISCIPLINES.

OR do you want to sit in front of your blank page for months, after your lengthy University education and call it “writers block” … up to you really, I’d rather take the magic pill if there is one, which as indicated there is.

LIFE AND OUR IMAGINATIONS GIVE US CREATIVE OFFERS CONTINUOUSLY, *ALL-THE-TIME* – ACCEPT THOSE OFFERS AND FORGET WRITERS BLOCK

That’s my take … 1600+ words generate from one offer 🙂

Warm regards

Don Charisma

PS (William Shakespeare is my “celeb” name for this post … for fun you may think up a tenuous connection if you like, please keep it clean and respectful, otherwise I may not be able to post)


Resources & Sources

Questions Marks – all-free-download.com


Notes for commenters:

Don Charisma Warning Improvised Writing

Comments are invited. BUT you are reminded that this is a public blog and you are also reminded to think before you press the “post comment” button. 

Good manners are a mark of a charismatic person – so please keep comments civil, non-argumentative, constructive and related, or they will be moderated. If you feel you can’t comply, press the “unfollow” button and/or refrain from commenting.

I read ALL comments but can’t always reply. I will comment if I think there’s something that I can add to what you’ve said. I do delete without notice comments that don’t follow rules above. For persistent offenders I will ignore you permanently and/or report you.

Most decent people already know how to behave respectfully. Thank you for your co-operation on the above.

Warm regards, Don Charisma


 

DonCharisma.org Opinion Graphic


65 thoughts on ““Offers – Creating Creativity” – Don Charisma’s Opinion

  1. Great post, Don and it comes at the right time as I’ve been struggling with bouts of “creative block” over the last month.

    I think my biggest fault is that I do push myself too hard and tend to burn myself out periodically. I also go through periods of physical inactivity, especially during these Chicago winters since my favorite form of exercise is walking. Though I do write my ideas in a notebook (so I can carry it with me at all times), I sometimes will work on multiple projects at once and there are times when the projects compete for my attention which causes frustration for me. It’s these times when my self-discipline breaks down that I’m my own worst enemy.

    I guess it all boils down to the concept of balance as you have mentioned in your article. Balance between the ordinary and the creative…food for thought. I also like the idea of using the improve techniques. Never would have thought to try that. It’s a great idea and worth exploring.

    As always Don, thanks for providing a new perspective and giving me something to think about.

    Very Best Regards,
    Eric

    1. You are very welcome, and your experiences mirror mine … I think it’s just a case of doing one’s best … “The” book on improv I was recommended and am currently reading (and also recommend) is Keith Johnstone – “Improv And The Theatre” … very impressive writing, wished I’d read it years ago when I bought it … still they say the teacher arrives when the student is ready, so perhaps that’s why …

      Check out the spinning plates, it’s short, but I think you’ll “get it” …

      Cheers

      D

  2. Wow! I really enjoyed this! I love to run, which can be some of my most creative moments, with my favorite music blaring. Sometimes my most creative moments are in dreams (I’ve written full songs in dreams before, which I think is kind of weird, but fascinating at the same time). I also have insomnia really bad, but instead of getting frustrated at not sleeping, I try to use that time to create some awesome pieces, which, theoretically, will exhaust me enough to sleep some.

    I want you to know that this piece of yours has inspired me to say the following to myself when I’m feeling down or frustrated or unimportant: be an inspiration to yourself; create awesomeness.

    Thanks for this piece! 🙂

  3. Excellent post on keeping the creative heart and brain alive – Shakespeare would have been proud of you dear 😉 I really really really agree with what you say: We can’t expect to create with nothing – have to fill the creative places in us – and that happens by LIVING LIFE ~

      1. I PROMISE YOU…you are not. I can grasp a lot – but sometimes it just takes WAYYY too much concentration.
        I still like writing like that though 😉

      2. LOL, my ex-girfriend reckoned the trick is not to concentrate, and let the brain work it out on it’s own …I haven’t watched any Shakespeare like that yet, so I want to try, maybe I’ll comprehend more … and yes tis fun to write Shakespearean as it is yoda-ish 🙂

      3. EXACTLY! Oh boy, the house is coming to life with the children off today (public holiday) Near time to get very busy listening to all the ins and outs of life 😉

        I can only imagine doing that with shakespeare is enabled by watching the emotions and the gestures…but then you miss the wit?

        I pretty much reckon it is a bit like learning a new language really! A LOT of the vocab is so redundant now. (sad really – but ’tis so)

  4. You know that I do the same things that you have written in this post? Lol. If I’ve need a rest, then I rest. If I need to be relaxed, then I go for a walk or I do Yoga. But normally my brains work a lot when I go to sleep. Before I sleep many ideas came to my head and I start to think the text I’m going to write or de picture I’m going to draw and when I’ve got all the text in my mind or the exactly picture I want to write, then I sleep. My brain surprise me.

    1. So it’s a creative process that’s similar for you too, awesome, so I’m on the right track 🙂

      My brain also surprise me a lot for being cleverer than I thought I was !

  5. “Yes, and’ing” is a most powerful technique. It results in narratives something like English towns – full of unforeseen twists and turns forced to accommodate someone’s structure that you would never have placed where it is, but far more interesting than the regular chessboard-like city blocks of many ‘well-planned’ places.

  6. Interesting…likewise, I find that when I’m out on my bike my mind opens and expands and ideas just come flying at me without me trying to make anything happen, posts, recipes, all sorts. I love it but I do have to grab a pen and paper as soon as I get back home and write it all done before I forget anything!!!!

  7. Interesting post Don. I’m happy to read, that you do take your time to relax from work too. It is really, really necessary for your soul and not to develop any mental sickness.

    After I started to join SoCS, as Linda is running, I became rid of my writing blocking and it is fun to join this kind of writing. I just made a post of this kind now.

    Keep up with all your great ideas Don and thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks Irene, and yes some writers are using creative techniques to develop their skills and not be so blocked in their writing …

      Had some fairly good rest over the weekend, I seem to go through phases of having more or less energy and more or less tired … resting can be hard to get started again, which is probably why I do less that I should !

      SoCS sounds a really great idea, so probably best I don’t do any prompts on Saturdays !

      And thanks Irene, I do appreciate all your encouraging words …

      Warm regards

      Don

      1. Thanks Irene, and yes I enjoyed it, but got a little of the Monday morning syndrome if that makes sense … hope all is well with you 🙂

        Cheers

        Don

      2. Heads up always appreciated Irene, I’m just writing about it, will be posted soon … I have a gift for you, you’ll have to wait and see what it is 🙂

      3. Friends respect each other’s need for space as well as companionship, so yes distance doesn’t matter to friends, all that does is the friendship 🙂

      4. LOL … I’ve just posted something that I was writing whilst we were chatting and the end bit was inspired by you, helped me to finish off beautifully … thank you 🙂

  8. Sometimes when I am blank, I just walk away. I do find that a lot of my inspiration comes when I am resting or even meditating. I find that I have to go somewhere and jot some notes right away so I can run with it later.

  9. So thorough and answered the question so well! I love the “Yes…and” technique and think it definitely is gold.
    I WILL be using this as I go forward. Thank you so very much for the feedback!!! You’re the best Don!

    1. You’re welcome hun, I can only explain my process, you’ll need to develop yours, keep what works and throw away what doesn’t … and keep doing more of what works 🙂

      Cheers

      Don

      1. You are amazing in your process. As I have gone along, I’ve found that I feel that “itch” or inspiration come over me and then I write. And you have helped me hone in on the things that can help being on those creative urges.
        Cheers to you as well!

        Audrey

      2. Well you can imagine my amazement and smile when I opened my page and found you had blogged your answer on something I had asked from a painful and lonely place. It’s rather humbling. Yet, as I have learned from some of your other blogs and what experience I have, humility, inquisitiveness, and observation are key in the blog world.
        Onward we go.
        Respect gravitates toward you, I think I’ll sit back and observe, and learn if you don’t mind.
        Bravo!

  10. I think just writing some stream of consciousness pages is a great idea when feeling especially uninterested in putting words on the page. A walk outside (or bike rid) also helps free up my creativity. Some days the words on the page are mostly crap, but sitting down and working anyway trains my brain. It can’t just takes days off (I give it Sunday, that should be enough). If I’m a professional writer, my brain can’t pick and choose when it wants to work.
    It is nice to have multiple projects in the works. If I’m stuck with my novel, perhaps I can churn out a few blog posts. If the short story is stumping me, I can go back and edit a few pages from the novel. For me, the key is to work on writing in some form. I might not be making money from my prose at this juncture, but I intend to write professionally; therefore, I must work several hours per day – just like I would in any other profession.

    1. 🙂 thanks Sharon … as for the professional writer I’m not one so my brain takes a day off when he feels like it … generally I have some content in stock, so that’ll be the day when that gets posted … as for sunday, would love to working a job that would allow me sat and sun off, but afraid my blog readers are 24/7 … often I work long days 12-16 hours and can go up to maybe 14 days without a break … so another reason I take a break when my brain tells me to !

      The variety aspect, thanks for cluing me in, I don’t know how it works for purely writers, I tend to do photography, graphic design and a touch of art to mix it up and keep me from getting bored … the multi-discipline I find feeds one into the other and they compliment each other 🙂

      Hope all is well, haven’t heard for a while, was thinking maybe I offended you LOL *grins cheekily*

      Cheers

      Don

      1. You could never offend me, DC. I’m developing rhino skin for my upcoming novel submission process.
        I have bee reading and liking your stuff, but have been reading in snatches without much time to comment. I’ll try to chime in more often. I want to try some of your creativity activities, so look for something along those lines in the future.

      2. LOL, that’s perfect then Sharon I shall be much more rude from now on in aid to your rhino skin development *kidding*

        I like to hear from you when you have time Sharon, you are a good charismatic woman, and a good writer 🙂 But do take care of business first, no pressure from me …

        Cheers

        Don

      3. PS I’ve put a sticky “Share yourself here” post if you’d like to share your blog with the gazillions of passers by and friends on DonCharisma.org

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