question

question

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And now, the third installment of my series The Creative Approach. As a reminder, the three parts of the creative approach are: observe, question, and respond. We arrive at the second part: question.

During observation mode, you took a good look at your surroundings, a practice I encourage you to continue for the rest of your life. Now it's time to ask some questions, even the silliest, most ridiculous ones; there is no bad place to start.

As I've mentioned in other places on this site, "what if" is one of the most important questions you can ask to get your creative brain in gear. Asking, "what if" can lead to some very big ideas, but it starts out small.

What if the mailman really wanted to be a psychiatrist? What if the birds outside my window started singing Elvis? What if my commute took me through a secret tunnel to a magical world made of creamed corn?

All fine questions. But let them lead you somewhere more practical. What if I took time to say hi to the mailman (or woman, or mailperson) and find out what their interests are? What if I took a little time every morning to pause and listen to the birds chirping before getting caught up in the usual routine? What if I shifted my schedule or carpooled to shorten my commute?

“What if” is a great place to start, but don’t stop there. There is an endless list of questions you could ask about an endless number of things. The point is to get your mind working in a certain way, to open it up for possibility and potential and then to hone in on a purpose. If I can wonder about the possible existence of some magic city built upon creamed corn (instead of rock and roll), then finding a way to get my life a little more organized isn’t such a stretch.

Let your questions take on more focus. Write down a few problem areas in your life (start with small ones) and begin to ask questions about those. For example, if your problem is: I don’t get to sleep early enough, you might ask yourself the following: why do I want to get to bed earlier? What keeps me up so late? Do I know other people with this problem and what have they done? What will happen over time if I don’t fix this?

Questions lead to new thoughts which lead to change. However, it isn’t instantaneous. Just as it takes an entire novel for a character to complete their arc (sometimes a whole series), it will take time for you to change, for you to become a change-bringer. However, questions are an important and necessary step on the yellow creamed corn-brick road to change (yeah, it’s more than super corny, it’s kinda gross).

Once you’ve spent enough time asking questions which lead to other questions, like any good detective, you will eventually want some answers. Stay tuned for the next and final gripping post in the series: THE RESPONSE! (I’ll leave your mind to play that dramatic horn sound)

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, when has a question led your mind down unexplored avenues? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Links to the rest of the series:

The Creative Approach

Observe

Question (current)

Respond

approach

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Here you are at the first post in a four-part series, The Creative Approach. This is the first series I've done for this site, though probably not the last. Enjoy!

What is it to approach something, if not to draw closer? To approach requires movement. When you make an approach, you move away from one thing toward another. 

By taking a creative approach, you are allowing something to come to life: an idea, a thought, an inkling. You move away from an unfulfilled, unenthusiastic life toward one of purpose and excitement. It’s more than just a shift, it’s a move from nonexistence to existence, and that’s no small step, even for Neil Armstrong.

It all begins in the mind—your imagination. But how do you get there, from nothing to an idea, from a dead standstill to a sure-fire approach? Well, rocket boosters and 2,000 tons of fuel would help, but lets say you don’t have that on hand.

It starts with motion. Without this, nothing happens. 

Creativity often comes to us while we are actively doing something, not sitting around staring blankly at a screen with our minds in a cat-GIF induced coma. It also comes when we set circumstances in its favor. For example, when we aren’t distracted by one million to-do’s or news updates and instead allow our minds to wonder a bit. So the creative approach is not just about movement toward something, but also away from something. We move from distraction toward focus, from inactive toward active.

Newton knew well enough that objects without motion tend to stay that way while moving things keep on a-movin’! This is why starting is often the hardest part: it takes focused effort to get from stationary to mobile, to build momentum, but it’s no less necessary.

A story doesn’t begin until something happens—something that matters to the plot and character. Your creativity won’t kick in until you get your groove on and move on.

But how do you do it? How do you transition from still to loco-motion? How do you get the ball rolling, the crank turning and the hopper hopping—just how do you generate creative motion?

The creative approach is a three-step dance. The first step in the creative approach is to observe. Next, you ask questions based on your observations. Questions get the gears turning, which get you thinking in new ways. Finally, we come to the third and final step: respond.

Let me repeat all that, but with different words: you must first take a new angle, head in a new direction. After you do, questions allow you to look at the matter from a different perspective, or as they say in the biz, get a new view (no, they don’t actually say that in the biz, I don’t even think they say “the biz” in the biz, who are we even talking about?) and, once you’ve gained your new view, you’ve got to do something about it: you must respond.

Give it a try, take some time to examine the world around you, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk around the block, then ask some questions and, lastly, find a way to respond that is unique and engaging. Hopefully this is something you do naturally, but it never hurts to pick a time and place to focus specifically on this practice. As you’ll see, an approach isn’t all that hard once you make the first move.

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, when was the last time you took a creative approach to something ordinary? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Links to the rest of the series:

The Creative Approach (current)

Observe 

Question

Respond