fresh and new


Have I talked yet about how much I love bread? It’s highly likely. 

Point in fact, I could eat a sandwich for lunch every day for the rest of my life (I do most days) and not have a problem with it. I’d prefer not to eat the exact same style of sandwich every day, but, hey, beggars can’t be choosers. 

I believe one of the best smells in the world is homemade bread fresh from the bread maker or oven. Mmmm boy!

I could cut anything else out of my diet if I had to (okay, not water, jeez), but I don’t think my soul would survive without bread. Now you know my secret weakness … with grain power comes grain responsibility.

Creativity is a lot like bread. Yeast, the active ingredient in bread, is alive. Likewise, you are the active ingredient in your creativity, and you are (I hope) very much alive. Unlike the yeast, you do not die in the process of creation (let’s hope)!

Most folks (myself included) like their bread hot and fresh. It’s the same with creativity. Old and stale doesn’t spell creative—mix those letters up however you want, I guarantee you can’t make it happen.

Not long ago, I took a few writing classes from an author and children’s book illustrator (it’s just one person in case you were confused). He had a lot of advice, but this was the one thing he repeated the most:

You have to say the same old thing in a fresh new way.

Whether you’re a writer or some other form of creative, it’s good advice. You’ve probably heard that there is “nothing new under the sun,” or something to that effect. Solomon may have written it first, but I bet even he didn’t come up with the idea.

All that has been done and seen and told has happened before, in some manner. Yes, apparently even the cavemen were distracted by texts during family dinner time. Someone pass the mammoth spare ribs!

Point is, the fact something has been done before shouldn’t dissuade you from engaging it creatively. For everything that has been done, there is a new way you can do it, a manner unique only to you. Even the commonplace and ordinary can be turned into something spectacular. Like the guy who fashioned sculptures out of Starbucks cups. Opportunities to create something fresh and new are all around you.

It’s funny, there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, but new words are being created all the time, and not necessarily long ones either. Walsorf, for example. I just made that one up, see? I’ll let you figure out what it means.

Even if you’re engaging in a very old art form—baking for example—there are always new ways to do it. There are new techniques, new ingredients, and new tools. All sourdoughs were not created equal. Trust me on that one.

So whether you’re scrapbooking or scrap baking (I think I made that up, but it sounds cool), serve it up with a fresh new take on an old familiar flavor.

set phaser to awesome

Have you ever seen those sets of word magnets for your refrigerator? Magnetic Poetry Kit is one of the popular (and I believe the first) brands. As you might imagine, they’re a lot of fun and provide some great creative opportunities. I own two different themed sets: geeky and big dictionary words.

My wife and I have had a some fun playing around with them, but the best results came from our guests over the years. Here are some of my favorites:


as sexy as could be
to understand a Kafkaesque fire cloud
open minds by hacking them off
I am your mellifluous pedagog of galactic temerity
the nefarious alien was more verbose than I liked
this is our observation, you are a missive humanoid
ed is always cheating
I like Herculean nachos
set phaser to awesome


I see two factors contributing to what makes these so great: limited selection and a random assortment. We’ll save the second for another day (maybe a rainy one, but it doesn’t have to be).

When you’re limited to just a few words (some of which, you may not even understand), the results are way more interesting then when you can choose any (and only) word(s) from your vocabulary. I’ve heard Dr. Seuss wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” because of a bet from his publisher. The bet was he couldn’t write a children’s book with 50 or less distinct words. The clever doctor succeeded of course and, though the publisher didn’t pay up, it sounds like things turned out pretty well for ol’ Seuss.

Takeaway: there’s a valuable lesson about limitations here and how they promote creative thought.


Hey Creatives, have you ever been required to do or write something under strict limitations, what were the results, did the limitations help or hinder your creativity? Let us know in the comments below.