Lots of tweaking, rewording, and reshaping for this week’s redone creativity post, about working together with other writers to improve your writing and get inspired to start again. Check out the new and improved article!
For this week’s creativity post, I thought I’d showcase a selection of DIY projects. After all, there’s a lot of creative license–and a lot of fun!–in making useful items for your home and life. From little decorative items to organizational tools, from wall art to pieces of furniture, there’s literally nothing you can’t DIY…as the following slew of pictured tutorials show! (See the link below each picture for the tutorial!)
For More Ideas
ApartmentTherapy.com’s DIY Showcase
31 Insanely Easy and Clever DIY Projects @ Buzzfeed.com
Best DIY Projects Ever @ CasaSugar.com
Weekend Home Projects @ BHG
DIY Projects Around the House (Pinterest board)
LifeHackers’ Top 10 DIY Home Projects
TLC’s DIY Projects and Advice
DIY Home Projects (Pinterest board)
CountryLiving’s Weekend Home Decor Projects
The Daily Green’s Best DIY Projects
Ever come up with an idea that was just so silly you couldn’t take it seriously?
Or what about a concept that completely disregards all the rules?
In reality, these crazy, far-flung ideas may be the key to thinking more creatively. You just can’t allow yourself to dismiss them before they help.
Why “Outlandish” Ideas Actually Aren’t
When we’re trying to do anything, whether it’s solving a problem or coming up with a new idea, we sometimes lock our mental processes within certain boundaries, sometimes without realizing it. We follow the rules society has laid down for righting this particular problem, or we cling tightly to the types of ideas that have been successful in the past.
Now, I’m not saying throw aside all rules, regulations, and useful advice. It’s good to remember what’s been successful, and it’s good to remember what society generally likes. But it’s definitely not good to keep ourselves locked within rules when we’re trying to come up with something very new and different. “Thinking outside the box,” an innovative phrase repeated so often that it’s become cliche, really means setting yourself free from what you think you “ought” to come up with, and allowing the creative process to come more naturally and freely.
Examples of Outlandish Creative Ideas
For instance, Mary Shelley’s vision of a monster cobbled together from various body parts might have seemed outlandish, but it certainly laid the foundation for a genuinely spooky and sad tale–Frankenstein. And Edgar Rice Burroughs’ concept of how a man could live on Mars erupted into series of books, which laid the groundwork for the science fiction literary genre for over half a century, even up to the present day. (Burroughs is the author behind the book which the “John Carter” movie comes from.)
Other so-called “crazy” ideas are now commonplace to us. The automobile itself was considered more a novelty than a necessity, even when it first rolled off the production line. And when I read one of my cousins’ textbooks from the ’70s talking about corded phones which showed the face of the person you were talking to, no one ever dreamed it could really be possible–the cordless, wireless iPhone and its FaceTime were still nearly 40 years in the future.
Getting Hold of Your Own “Crazy” Ideas
So, how do you come up with your own wacky creative ideas that just might take off?
Make a promise to yourself that you will pursue and develop every idea that pops into your head, without laughing it away or dismissing it out of hand.
Start brainstorming, about whatever you need a creative idea for.
For instance, do you need an idea for a story’s villain? Start thinking about actions, voice types, facial expressions, clothing, and dialogue that you personally associate with being villainous, and expand on that. This will inevitably lead to developing a backstory or a “reason for being evil”–run with it. Trust me, you will like where it ends up if you let your mind wander. (I did this very process with my own novel’s villain, who didn’t exist until one of my very earliest readers pointed out that I didn’t have a real villain in my book yet.)
Document how your idea grows and changes. Sounds weird, but if you keep track of your original idea and the subsequent changes you’ve made to it, you’ll be better able to fall back on earlier changes if you need to. Plus, even if one little detail of an idea doesn’t work in one context, you could easily use it somewhere else. It’s good to hoard your ideas!
Don’t discount your dreams. If you find yourself dreaming about your idea (which often happens, if you’ve been concentrating on it a lot!), write down what you dreamed about as soon as you get up. Your sleeping mind might just come up with the solution to the last troubling little detail. (Don’t laugh, it’s happened to me before–I dreamed about taking a final exam, and one of the “questions” was actually an answer to the thing I couldn’t figure out before I went to bed. WIN)
If someone else thinks your idea is “weird”, let them think that. Until your idea is fully fleshed out, it might sound a little far-fetched to others, and that, contrary to popular belief, is OKAY. Don’t let anyone’s disapproval get in the way until you have sorted the idea out for yourself. If they have constructive criticism, like my friend’s suggestion that my book needed a stronger villain, that’s awesome; if they just brush your idea aside, then they’re proving they don’t need to be part of your creative process.
If this idea doesn’t work, take it apart and try again. The idea you come up with might or might not work. If it doesn’t, take the non-working bits out and refashion them, as many times as you need to. Ideas are not like laptop computers, whose parts seem specifically made to work with only a scant few other brands of components. Ideas are endlessly flexible and reparable, and best of all, you need only one tool–your brain!
Are you struggling to write? Lacking inspiration? Feeling STUCK? The problem might not be writer’s block–it might be writer’s isolation. At least, this is how I started feeling after being stuck on my novel for several months. And, as you’ll see in the following article, it really took talking over the book with another person to help me get restarted on it.
How I Accidentally Started a Writers’ Club
For a while, one of my best guy friends and I had been hanging out at a local Denny’s on Sunday evenings, getting back in touch after life took us in very separate directions for a few years. It was a time for him to be away from work and away from home, a time where he could relax and we could catch up. But it slowly became less of a social thing and more focused on writing–I was working (mostly unsuccessfully) on my novel, and he wanted to hear more about it.
Once I started sharing my novel-in-progress with him, seeing what he thought of my ideas so far, I found out that he liked it, and was eager to read more. Thus, I was inspired to write more, and I found the process to be easier. (He is now one of my four beta readers, if you will–my parents and my boyfriend have also read or heard most of the novel, and they have all been wonderfully supportive.) Having this support system around me helped me start writing and keep writing–now, I had an audience to write for rather than just myself!
Inspiration is Catching!
I knew I was getting inspired from these informal brainstorming sessions, but admittedly, I didn’t expect for my guy friend to pick up the pen himself after a few months. I shouldn’t have been surprised, though–he’s been working on his own stories since he was 14 years old! I was overjoyed to see him starting to work with his old stories again, and so I encouraged him to keep working at it, to keep writing, and that I would read and help if I could. (Since I was an English major in college and did teach literature and composition for a few months in a middle school, I have a little bit of experience helping people to write.)
A Typical Writers’ Club Meeting
When we get together for our writers’ club meeting, we usually sit at our respective computers, typing away for a few minutes (or 30, LOL). Then, we switch computers, so that each of us can read what the other has written. We offer each other constructive criticism, ideas for expansion, and express interest–then we switch back, and revise as necessary.
This helps us both at the same time–we are both writer and reader, so we can easily switch back and forth between the two roles. Plus, reading each other’s work helps us both construct better-flowing stories, and the almost-instantaneous time between composition, reading, and revising makes the writing process speedier and more thorough. No more relying on my memory to figure out what to change in my story!
The Benefits So Far
This has certainly helped me make my novel much better, to have people around me who are interested in my novel and who offer their opinions on how the story is progressing. Only four people in this world besides me know what it’s about, and each of those four I would trust with my life as well as my life’s work. Plus, I’m getting and giving really good feedback; being part of the creative process in a couple of ways gives me new perspective on both of our efforts.
I never realized how much another person’s input would help me write–I have always been shy about showing my work to someone else, fearing their criticism. But in a way, doing this kind of writers’ club thing helps me brainstorm and not be so stressed about how the novel is going (or sometimes not going). Often, it’s fun to just sit there and talk out an idea over a fried cheese melt and a laptop computer; I get so much brain work done as I form the idea into words, and I also function as a sounding board for my friend’s ideas.
Have You Ever Tried a Writers’ Club?
Let me know in the comments!