Increasing Your Creativity

20 12 2014

Albert Einstein HeadI’ve often heard the Albert Einstein quote, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” But just this week I received an email from Jean Houston, who actually met Einstein in person and was encouraged to read more fairy tales. I’m posting that story and her own inspiring comments (in red italics) here:

When I was eight years old, I attended a school in Manhattan where they felt it would be good for students to meet some of the great elders of the time.
 
One of those elders was Albert Einstein, and one day we were trotted across the river over to Princeton University to his house there. He had a lot of hair and was very sweet.
 
One of my smart-alecky classmates said to him: “Uh, Mr. Einstein, how can we get to be as smart as you?”
 
He said: “Read fairy tales,” which made no sense to us at all.
 
So another smart-alecky kid said: “Mr. Einstein, how can we get to be smarter than you?”
 
He said: “Read more fairy tales!”
 
We, of course, didn’t fully understand him at the time, but what he was actually encouraging us to do was to nurture and grow our imaginations.
 
He understood something that almost all highly creative and successful people do, that the imaginal realm is where the most potent ideas—the ones that can change your life or change the world—are held.
 
And the more you can nurture your imagination by diving into that imaginal realm, the more often that dive will inspire a stream of creativity when you resurface.

I wanted to post the Einstein story along with Jean’s words because at this magical time of year, it’s good to think about creativity. As the days grow darker and the weather gets colder (for many of us, anyway), many of us go into hibernation. Those hibernation periods, although they may seem unproductive, are actually a time for the ground to go fallow in preparation for spring growth.

This also holds true when you’re in a creative slump. Allow time for rest and rejuvenation. And remember that one of the most productive things you can do is to fill your mind with fairy tales.

Indulge yourself this winter by curling up with beautifully written books, soaking up inspiring music, and strolling through gorgeous art collections. Pamper yourself, and you’ll emerge on the other side more creative than ever before.

*Jean Houston‘s a wonderful teacher who inspires many people to reach their full potential, and she’s has upcoming classes for those who might want to challenge their preconceived notions of what’s possible.
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Fearless Writing

12 01 2014

susan gabriel bookA new book from Susan Gabriel, Fearless Writing, may be just the encouragement you need. Susan’s mission is to “encourage and inspire people to follow their dreams, tell their stories and keep two feet on the ground while they do it.”  She’s collected writing wisdom for the past 17 years. And she knows “Writing is the hardest job you’ll ever love.” According to Susan, “Women, especially, struggle with claiming their voices and getting their work out into the world. (Like I did, initially.) Or they struggle with simply starting to live a more creative life. This book is dedicated to them.” Whether you are new to writing or an experienced veteran, when the going gets tough, Fearless Writing can provide “inspiration, writing tips and encouragement to get going again and keep going.” Peppered with inspiring quotes from famous people, the essays are guaranteed to inspire you to develop your creativity. Thoughts from great writers such as Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, Sue Monk Kidd, Alice Walker, Nora Ephron, Jane Austen, Maya Angelou, and Alice Munro will help to jumpstart your writing. Susan also offers Fearless Writing Workshops and coaches authors in person as well as providing editorial services. SusanGabrielABOUT THE AUTHOR Susan Gabriel grew up in the archetypal American South, playing in the shade of mimosa trees and catching lightning bugs as the heat waned on long summer evenings. She lived on banana popsicles and when not in school, spent most days exploring the woods around her home or on her red Schwinn bicycle. In Charleston, SC Susan was a professional flutist playing at the famous Piccolo Spoleto festival, as well as many private gigs in historic homes and sailboats. Susan completed a degree in counseling, in part to understand the wide array of characters in her Appalachian gene pool, and became a marriage and family therapist. She was the founder of the Women’s Center in Charleston, South Carolina, which still provides services to women over twenty years after its inception. In 1994, Susan answered the long-time call to writing, closed her successful counseling practice, and moved with her daughters to Asheville, North Carolina. She simplified her life and took part-time jobs to focus the main portion of her day on writing. She worked at a copy shop, made gourmet dog biscuits, cashiered at a home-improvement mega store, and did freelance editing. Susan’s first novel, Seeking Sara Summers, the transformative story of a mid-life woman, was published in 2008. Her second novel, The Secret Sense of Wildflower, the story of a precocious adolescent grieving for her father in 1941 Tennessee, was published in 2012 and earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.





Graduation or Coronation?

29 07 2013

fairy wreath 1After another intense 6-week summer session, I have now completed the Hollins University Graduate Certificate Program in Picture Book Illustration.

We graduated with pomp and circumstance as you can tell from the photo. No caps and gowns for us. In keeping with the spirit of Hollins creativity, our professors crowned us with beribboned fairy wreaths (with jeweled holders for a pen and brush) and gave us pens tied with ribbons for autographing our future books.

Even our diplomas were printed and handpainted by Ashley Wolff.

certificate copy

Ruth Sanderson

Ruth Sanderson

 
 
We were lucky enough to be taught by Ruth Sanderson and Ashley Wolff, seen here at our famous Hollins’ sign. Can you tell that the campus is filled with lovers of children’s literature?

Ashley Wolff

Ashley Wolff

Our other profs were Lauren Mills and Elizabeth Dulemba. Add in workshops with Chris Soentpiet, Paul Zelinsky, Charles Vess, Eric Rohmann, and Dennis Nolan, plus talks and/or critiques by authors David Almond, Nancy Willard, Candace Ransom, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Kathryn Erskine, Fran Cannon Slayton, and many other luminaries in the children’s literature field, including Cheryl Klein and Mallory Loehr. It’s been an awesome two years.





What Are You Wishing For?

2 05 2013

Another gentle creative nudge from Duirwaigh Studios to help you remember your dreams:

The Music on “My Wish for You” by Annbjørg Lien.





Need Some Inspiration?

16 04 2013

Is your life the fairy tale you always hoped it would be? This enchanting video from Duirwaigh Studios will put you in touch with those long-ago dreams:

 





Trouble Staying Motivated?

8 05 2012

Try some Tough Love. Check out Beth Brousil‘s post on The War of Art. Might be just the kick you need.

 





Fear of Success

1 08 2011

sailboatInspiration struck today about my business. I realized I’ve been an anchor, keeping things stuck, preventing them from growing because of fear.

Rather than being an anchor, a drag, holding back the ship, I want to be the sail, harnessing the wind energy and directing the craft. We’ll not only go farther faster, but it’ll take a lot less energy.