Welcome to the fourth and final installment of my series, The Creative Approach. The title of this one might remind you of a similar post, but I promise it’s different. Read on and I’ll prove it to you.
To recap (to put your hat back on?), the first two steps in the creative approach are observe and question. Once you’ve begun to take a look around and see what there is to see, once you’ve made some inquiries based on your discoveries, the next step is to form a response—a reaction, if you will.
Every question begs for a response,
This is true even if the response is “I don’t know.” But if that is your response, it’s high time to start finding some things out.
As I often like to do, let’s look at the role response plays in storytelling. A story where the protagonist does not respond to events around them is hardly a story at all. If Bilbo from The Hobbit stays in the Shire, we’ve got no adventure and he's Ringwraith meat in no time. If Luke stays on Tatooine, the rebellion loses and he's Jawa jerky. If Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen from You’ve Got Mail doesn’t stand up and fight for the survival of her little book shop, it simply goes under and the story is over. Yes, I just referenced a chick-flick, what, it’s a good movie and it's got Tom Hanks, so there!
If we refuse to engage with our world, if we wall ourselves in, close the blinds and click shut the ten locks on our doors, what will we gain? A sense of security? Possibly. But it looks like more like defeat to me. What happens when everyone lives this way? Creativity dies and we have no stories to share. A downright shame, I say!
To respond is to do something, to take action.
It’s not enough to wish and wonder. Take a look at the information you have gathered through your observation and questions then find creative ways to address it. Here is one question that will lead you to a response, "what now?" When you live out the answer to that question, you put your creativity to work.
I knew a guy in college who discovered a unique way to potty train his boy: playing the ukulele. According to my classmate, it was the only thing he found that would work—after many other failed attempts. He had a problem (a kid who refused to be potty trained) and his response was to look around at what he had available and test it until he found a solution.
But the answer to the question “what now” doesn’t always have to be a solution to a problem. Perhaps you simply want to develop a hobby. For example: if you’ve learned about a local scrapbooking club, why not join and see how you like it?
There are so many ways to respond to, “what now?" If there is a group of neighborhood kids you often find kicking cans down your street, why not go play hacky sack, show them how to yoyo, or set up a little soccer field? Maybe invite their parents over for dinner afterwords.
If you see the same homeless woman on the way home from work every day, why not buy her a flower, or make one out of paper? Hey, nothing makes me feel special like a little origami.
If you pass by an interesting little shop, why not pay them a visit, ask the owner a bit about their life and maybe even write a story about it (or at least a journal entree)?
Instead of just hitting the like button the next time you see a good post, why not comment how it made you feel, or even talk to the one who posted it in person, who knows where your discussion could lead? Engage, engage, engage.
Is there someone in your life—such as a coworker or acquaintance—who might be able to mentor you or teach you an interesting skill, say woodworking or how to play drums? Is there someone in your life—a friend’s kid perhaps—with whom you could share your experience and offer help through instruction?
A creative response can be as big or as small as you want it to be: a 15 minute project or a lifelong work. However, if you haven’t given much time to creativity in the past, I encourage you to start small.
As you’ll see, the more you take the creative approach, the more you will exercise your creative muscle and the stronger you’ll become.
That’s it for now folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little romp through the creative approach. If you’ve got any thoughts or experiences on the subject, why not respond by sharing them?
Hey Creatives, when has your response led to an unexpected reaction from someone else? Let us know in the comments below.
Links to the rest of the series: