Tag Archives: Creativity

Magical Creativity

When I was in college, my writing professor was convinced that there’s no such thing as writer’s block. As a writer, I just didn’t think that was true. But I didn’t think it was the mystical, spiritual muse that others make it out to be, either. (Elizabeth Gilbert, for example. She’s a little too “out there” for me.) It had to be somewhere in between.

Recently I was listening to The TED Radio Hour—an episode called “The Source of Creativity.” One of the people Guy Raz talked to was a scientist who believes creativity is a neurological process, a process that suppresses the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the part that takes care of conscious self-monitoring, the part that’s afraid to be wrong, the part that inhibits your behavior and tries to prevent mistakes.

When your prefrontal cortex is active, you’re much less likely to be creative. I was thinking about what that means in my own life. And I was thinking about when I’m most creative. I realized it happens most when I’m doing muscle-memory-type tasks—walking in a familiar place, showering, driving—things my body just does on autopilot and my brain doesn’t really need to self-monitor. That’s when I come up with my best ideas.

“Artisitic creativity is magical, but it’s not magic.” —Charles Limb

Most writers will tell you that, to be a good writer, you need to just sit down and do it habitually. You need a schedule, a regular time to sit in the same place every day and just do it. Essentially, you’re creating another muscle memory process—another habit that frees up that prefrontal cortex from having to work so the rest of your brain can create great ideas. The results are magical, but the process—not so much.

I don’t know about you, but this significantly changes how I approach writing.



Writer Off the Leash by Michelle Griep

writer-off-the-leash-bookOkay, writer friends, I’ve got a great book for you to read—Writer Off the Leash by Michelle Griep.

(Does that name sound familiar? I just reviewed her new novel, Brentwood’s Ward.)

Michelle has been writing for a long time. As a writing teacher, an avid reader and book reviewer, a member of ACFW and MCWG, and the author of four other books (all novels), she knows a few things about writing.

In her endearing and snarky voice, she shares her best advice and favorite tips for writers, alongside a few one-liners that’ll make you giggle.

Writer Off the Leash is geared toward fiction writers, but it’s a quick read for anyone who enjoys (or wants to enjoy) writing. She covers motivation, the creative process, publishing, rejection, perseverence, the basics of putting a good story together, and the responsibilities of a writer.

Now, I have to admit that I edited this book for Michelle. But that doesn’t mean I can’t love it, does it? Because I do. If you’re looking for some writing inspiration, give this book a try. You can buy it here.

And if you want to know more about Michelle or see what else she has to say about writing, head over to her blog (also called Writer Off the Leash). While you’re at it, check out her novels. They’re pretty good, too :)

5 Podcasts to Get Your Creativity Flowing


There are a TON of podcasts out there and the topics range from everything to history to church communications to cats (what would the Internet be without cats?). Podcasts are a great way to get creativity flowing—listening to a good story or learning something new can spark your imagination and get you thinking in new ways.

Here are five great podcasts I can’t stop listening to:

  1. The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins
    This one is more about writing itself, but Jeff interviews all sorts of interesting people, mostly authors, on a variety of topics. Some of my favorites have been his chat with Seth Godin about sharing your art with the world, his conversation with Andy Andrews about the power of story, and his own thoughts on a life-improving habit
  2. The Lede from Copyblogger
    I didn’t realize there have been new episodes since June, so I haven’t listened to the newest ones, but their series on curating content was full of great ideas for bloggers.
  3. Serial
    This is a new NPR podcast that tells one story over a season’s worth of episodes rather than multiple stories in one episode. This season they’re following the story of a teenage girl who was murdered in 1999. They’re covering the case from multiple angles, interviewing everyone who will talk to them, and even tracking down people who weren’t there for the court case. There are only three episodes up right now, but they post a new one every Thursday morning.
  4. Snap Judgment
    This one is my favorite. It’s another NPR show. Each episode features several stories that fit with that week’s theme, like “Reunion,” “Chain of Command,” or “Rage Against the Machine.” The stories are interesting, well-told, and often informative. And there are over 500 episodes so, unlike Serial, I may never catch up.
  5. Radio Lab and This American Life
    Okay, bonus. These are two different podcasts, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re pretty similar. Also from NPR, each episode is at least one fascinating story that will teach you something. They’re also similar to Snap Judgment, but the difference seems to be that these are more informative and Snap Judgment is more entertaining. Check out Radiolab’s “Juicervose” for a story about Autism and Disney movies and This American Life’s “Secret Identity” for a story about a teenage girl who found her calling in a tiger costume.
I haven’t done any research to see what my other options are, but I’ve been listening on Stitcher and I love it. It’s easy to add podcasts and organize them into categories of my choice. (I know you can also listen to iTunes, but I’m not a Mac girl.)
Happy listening!