Category Archives: Creativity

How to get in the flow

roaring-rapidsYou know those times when you’re in a conversation and the next day in the shower you think of exactly the right thing you should have said? Happens to me all the time.

Last Saturday I was on a panel at the Richmond International Film Festival’s “Flow” conference. The question put to us was, “How do you get back into the creative flow when you’re stuck?” I think I blathered something inane about taking a walk. What I should have said is, “I pray.”

In our film, SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL, Brother Bob Cross confesses, “The only time I know what I’m doing is when I’m telling God I don’t know what I’m doing.” That has been my experience; especially over the last several years as I’ve been working on the film. I’m often stuck. And the cure has always been to place it in God’s hands and trust Him for the solution.

Sounds like a cliché, I know. But it is the best way I can describe my experience. Continue reading How to get in the flow

Don’t give up!

We received another significant financial commitment for the film this morning. Thanks be to God!

This fundraising activity (which must precede the production of the film) is just plain hard! It is requiring me to learn some new skills and to stretch out of my introvert comfort zone.

I think one of the most important lessons I’m learning is: don’t give up. No matter how hard the task, how impossible the odds, how stiff the opposition, how frequent the disappointment. Don’t give up.

Don-Give-Phrase-Blackboard-969190Reminds me of that story Jesus told about the “Shrewd Manager.” It’s always been a little puzzling to me because it sounds like Jesus is affirming dishonest behavior.

The guy gets fired from his job, and then goes around currying favor with his boss’s debtors by doctoring the books and underhandedly erasing some of what they owe. And then what happens? The boss praises the manager for his actions! For cheating! But I don’t think that’s the point Jesus is making.

I think he’s urging us to be alert and creative. The fired manager could have gone into depression, feeling sorry for himself. He could have given up. But he didn’t. And that, I think, is what Jesus is affirming.

Here’s the punchline of the story, as interpreted by Eugene Peterson in “The Message.”

“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law–abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way––but for what is right––using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” (Luke 16:8-9)

The line jumps out, “be smart in the same way––but for what is right––using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival…”

Paul says something similar in his letter to the Ephesians:

“Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17 (MSG)

And Jesus again, in teaching his disciples how to go about their work: “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16b (NIV)

Be creative, make the most of every opportunity, understand what the Lord’s will is… and Don’t Give Up!

Thoughts on Creativity – a sampler from TEDxRVA

powerplantThe first-ever TEDxRVA event launched my mind, soaring skyward, fueled with inspiration, imagination, ideas, hope, new connections, and exciting possibilities.

It is impossible to capture in one brief blog post the true spirit of the day… the full range of tones and harmonies in that symphony of creative energy. But here are a few gleanings… some of my takeaways. (I’m putting quotes around the phrases even though they are not the exact words used by the speaker.)

From Brian Andreas, artist, writer and entrepreneur behind the internationally known boutique art and book publisher, StoryPeople: “If you are alive, you are creative… If you want to be more creative, do things that make you feel more alive.”

From Sheryl Connelly, futurist with Ford Motor Company: “I love my job, but I don’t always enjoy the work. But if it wasn’t hard you would be a volunteer. That’s why they pay you to do it.”

From designer Deborah Adler, “Don’t create for the world, create for a person.”

2013-03-22 11.50.53From Richmond native Mike Henry, who gives voice to some of the quirky characters on “The Family Guy”: “Stay with your dream. Don’t let go. Don’t give up.”

From Katherine Wintsch, founder of The Mom Complex: “Don’t buy into the image of yourself that others try to project on you. Be honest. Face your fears. Then, and only then, will you discover the truth.”

From Zoe Romano, the young Richmond woman who ran across the United States: “Uncertainty and vulnerability are crucial to the creative process.”

And from Derek Sivers (via a TED video): “The first follower turns a lone nut into a leader.” (You really have to see the video to get the full impact of that truth.)

There was so much more…

2013-03-22 18.00.11– from designer Cheryl Heller, who transformed her TEDxRVA speaking gig into a partnership with Boaz & Ruth, a Richmond non-profit, faith-based initiative that helps people help themselves;

– from author Kevin Carroll, who modeled the truth that work and play are not opposites;

– from philanthropic entrepreneurs Marti Beller, Geoff Weathersby and Brian Marks who convinced me that “they” is “me” and that the first step to make a difference in the world is to make a difference in one, single life;

– and from Fox Elementary School art teacher Julie Crowder who stands as a shining example of the power of passion when she inspired a city-wide outpouring of hometown love with her project, “RVA Valentines: Love Letters to Our City.”

More than 30 speakers/artists/musicians challenged and inspired us during the daylong event. The inaugural TEDxRVA event will no doubt fuel my life and my creativity for the foreseeable future.