Thursday, February 03, 2011

Creativity Tools

Are you creative?  Of course you are.  If you don't think so - take some time to think about it again.  Of course you are.

What tools do you use to express yourself?

I love to knit.  I don't do it very well, sometimes I will go for months without taking up yarn and needles, but I love it.

My mother was a wonderful knitter and when I got old enough, she attempted to teach me.  It didn't go so well.  Pretty soon she got frustrated and said, "With your talented fingers, I can't figure out why you can't learn this!" So, I went no further with it.  Knitting was just one of those things I needed to do, though.  Many years later, long after she had died, a wonderful little yarn shop opened in Omaha.  I wandered in, talked to the owner and asked if she taught classes.  Before I knew what had happened, I was learning to knit.  I took three classes from her on knitting and crocheting.

As happens with most of my obsessions, yarn began to take over my house.  I bought more than I could ever use and when I would set aside the needles for months on end, I knew that I would never be able to finish all the projects I wanted to create.  I have finally quit buying yarn and refuse to allow myself anything new until I use most of what I have. This is going to be a long dry spell for yarn purchases in my life, I can tell.

There are so many things that I enjoy doing that allow me to express my creativity.  I love to cook and bake, I enjoy playing the piano and singing.  I sew, have messed with most types of crafty things in my past life (and have the craft supplies to show for it - do you want some?), but the one area that makes me the happiest is when I put words to paper.

The funny thing about this is that Mom was a pretty amazing writer.  I never felt as if I could measure up to her incredible talent.  (Nope, not looking for you to disagree here.)  My early attempts at writing for grades were feeble, to say the least.  I compared myself to Mom and always came up lacking.  And to be honest, she wasn't all that great about helping me and giving me good advice.  She didn't do much to encourage me in that area.  In fact, if I look back at her conversations with me - they did more to stop me from writing than anything.

When I wanted to journal, she was fine with that, but told me to never put anything on paper that I didn't want my father to read.  Well, to be honest, I didn't want him to read anything, so when I would sit in my room, I would think of all these things I wanted to write down and stop myself.  I didn't write any of them down.  I didn't want Dad knowing my innermost secrets.

When I was in college, I had to take some crazy freshman writing course.  I kept getting low grades on the papers I handed in. No matter what I changed or what I did, I came up with these low grades.  Mom finally wrote a paper for me and I turned it in.  When I received the paper back, there was a big, red "C" on the top of the paper.  This was at the University of Iowa.  At the same time, Mom was taking courses in the English and Literature Department and received incredible remarks for the writing she was doing.  She tossed the paper at me and told me that I didn't need to worry about the grade in that class, it was obvious that the TA who was teaching it had no idea what she was doing.  But, we never really sat down and went through the issues to see what was good and what was bad.

Fortunately there came a point when I moved past a lot of that (obviously it still haunts me, but moving on is good).  I would sit at my desk when I was younger with a blank piece of paper in front of me and pen in hand, poised over the sheet.  I could sense the tension between my brain and that blank sheet and was desperate to put words down that might mean something.  All along, I knew that writing was foundational for me.

I still enjoy sitting down with paper and pen, but thank heavens for the computer.  If I'm stuck and can't seem to get my hand to write, I can generally force a few words (which gets me started, if nothing else) onto a computer screen.  I type so much faster than I write and that way I can keep up with my brain when it spins out of control.

Pen and paper are still my favorite ways to think on paper, but the computer is another great tool for me when I want to express myself.

What are your tools for creativity?

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