The Book Launch! July 22nd 2013

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Today I launch the book through a small gathering in the fabulous Cardiff Bay! It’s more of a celebration than a launch as it’s taken since October 2011 to get this baby finished and available on amazon.

Interesting that it’s taken so long and yet it’s not even 100 pages. But you know what Anita Roddick said “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” So I’m hoping my book, although small, has a big impact on people individually.

I am also mindful that now the book is out I have no control of how people may respond or how they may interpret what I’ve written. My work is done I have to let go and not be attached to what people may think or how they judge it. Part of me did it for a personal challenge- What did I think on the subject of creativity? Part of me also did it so that  people got to know about all the ‘best bits’ from the various more serious text books I’ve read on the subject- without having to go through all that reading!

Underlying it all is that I believe creativity is a great thing! It is a gift- that maybe we’ve wrapped up too well and pushed to the back of the cupboard. Being creative means that you have to be positive and open to possibility also essential traits in this climate. Creativity is empowering because it says you have a choice- you can create- you can contribute.

The book is about reconnecting to our inner creativity and using it in which ever way works best for you. This might be in work- with some fo the creative problem solving techniques. Or you may just want to ‘get out of your box’ more generally.

I hope to take this work forward and continue my creative explorations- particularly in using creative mediums within the workplace. I am convinced, although I have no scientific proof yet, that thinking through different mediums can help you come up with more innovative solutions. I will be inviting people at my launch to come and explore with me at a pilot workshop in August.

The book is available now on Amazon at a price of £9.99

I look forward to your thoughts and pictures!

The story of the illustrations

illustration 1

When I first visualised the book I imagined it to be landscape, full colour and spiral bound – a bit like a sketch book. I had created a set of small experimental paintings that I wanted to include- to show people how easy it was to create ‘art’.

However this isn’t so practical in the world of publishing. The books would have cost a minimum of £20 to produce, would not be stocked by book shops as it would have no spine and packaging may be difficult. Part of me was going to go ahead anyway but then I had a rethink. What else could I do? A book on creativity, with a chapter citing the importance of images- had to have some visuals!

On my desk lay the hand drawn business card of an illustrator I had met a few months earlier. He had been taking ‘visual minutes’ at a creative conference I was running (Photo from event below). Visual minutes, if you’re not familiar with the term, are now the super cool alternative to the written form of minutes. These talented people literally draw the people speaking and capture a few key statements. There are different styles of visual minute takers I think Karl was a bit more stylised than others I’d seen.

Ilustrators

I’d kept his card because it was so beautifully and so effortlessly drawn. As part of the his work that day he also drew me – highly ‘characterised’  if that’s a word?! So I emailed him and asked if he might be interested in creating a few illustrations for my book. ‘Yes’ was the answer – fantastic!

Usually I am a bit of a ‘control freak’ when it comes to design. I often have a clear picture of what I want, sometimes even make a mock-up,  and usually just ask designers to recreate it for me. (So designers beware-  you have now been warned).  But this time things were a little different. I just sent him a few sample chapters and said – ‘do whatever you like- whatever comes to mind’.

A few days later I had an email from him  ‘I have some ideas for different characters but when I read your words  I imagine you.’  This was a particularly moving moment for me – not sure if you can feel it too? Well it bought a tear to my eye- joyous tears which hardly ever happen.

I had given him artistic freedom so I said – ‘Yes do what you feel.’  So the illustrations happened. When you see the book it doesn’t look like me- just a super skinny female with shoulder length hair and great dress sense!

The other amazing thing about the illustrations is that Karl read more into what I had written than I had actually written. It’s almost as if he could read my mind the way he embellished his illustrations with words that weren’t actually there! The cover image is a great example of this. The diagram he put together is just how I think! Maybe he joined the dots himself too as he created them.

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So my illustrator,the super talented Karl Mountford, was a gift.  I no longer regret not having the colour images I produced as his illustartions are  so much richer.

Part of me still wants to do a colour version as I love colour- so if the book is received well I may do a fabulous full colour spiral bound version- just as I had originally imagined it.

As a quick update the book is going to be available on amazon very soon. The last proof has been signed off and I’m having a ‘book party’ / launch on July 22nd in Cardiff.

The power of colour

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One section of my book is called ‘Release it- Paint’. It’s about encouraging people to paint and be unafraid.

Today I am going to run this idea as a workshop for the first time which is super-exciting. A lot of my work is about creativity in terms of generating ideas. Today will be different as I aim to facilitate creativity on a different perhaps more spiritual level. I am going to ask people to play around with colour on a canvas. The object of the exercise is not represent anything they might see in ‘reality’ but to enjoy colour just for what it is.

We aren’t going to have too many paint brushes just sponges and people will be encouraged to use their fingers too. In addition to paint I will also take in some coloured paper so people can do more collage-like work.

I have a few different angles planned to help people engage in the process so we shall see how it goes. I shall also take along some colour images that I created for my book. The image above was created just on a small index card and I made lots of them. The first one was created by pressing pieces of paper together and the in the second I used a ruler to spread colour around. (I was going to use these in my book but colour printing was a little too expensive for a first book!)

So today I get to show other people how much fun you can have exploring colour. For me it’s therapy. I don’t have to talk to anyone, achieve anything, communicate anything…I can just be. The session today is all about wellbeing so lets hope it works as well for the people today as it does for me! I shall keep you posted.

 

 

Proof arrives- reactions from my aunt

I set this blog up to slowly release the book into the world prior to publication. I’m pleased to say that this is coming closer. I’m just at the final proofing stage of the printed copy. I made this short video of me opening my parcel as it arrived …

It’s also been an interesting process showing the proof to people. At the weekend I showed it to my aunt who is just turning 70 next week. I thought it would be the perfect answer to the usual question of “So what have you been up to?”

She does the crossword daily and as she saw the slim volume she assumed she’s be able to ‘skim it’ while I was there. (Luckily this was not the case – she did pause for thought between sections)

It’s fascinating and slightly nerve-wracking to have someone read the book in front of you. In the introduction I talk about ‘taking a leap’ from employment to self employment. This immediately struck a chord with her and she went on to tell me about the leaps of faith she had taken in her life and the risks and pay offs that were associated with them.

Her interpretation of how she ‘thinks outside the box’ was fascinating to hear and her views on the innocence of childhood and play was also something she picked up on and wanted to discuss.  Unfortunately other people in the room didn’t know what she was reading, as there was only one copy, but she was commenting as if we all had the book in front of us!

One of the funnier comments she made, apart from “Who is this Ken Robinson chap?”,   was in relation to the section on “There is no one right answer”. Here’s a short extract:

If you are to take a more creative path you have to let go of this notion of the ‘one right way’ and accept there are many ways of doing things. You may also have to believe that there is no right or wrong way of doing anything, just different ways.

“It’s going to sound arrogant but I am always right at most things. Aren’t I?” She said this with all seriousness turning to her husband for support. “Of course” he nodded. Maybe she’ll want to spend a bit more time on this section when the final version comes out.

One final point of her reaction to the book, she suggested it would be good for people ‘suffering from depression’. I thought it was a book primarily about creativity but for her it was just as much about positivity. Interesting how we write with one intention but people then add their own layer of meaning to something…

On the plus side, she as a 70-year-old great-grandmother, identified with the book and wanted her grand-daughter to read it too! So maybe it has a wider appeal than I had imagined. On the downside being the avid crossworder that she is – she spotted a typo that I and the proof reader had missed! 🙂

Who says you’re not creative? Blog post 2

Welcome to the second installment from my book: Who says you’re not creative?

The first section of the book is headed Our starting point : Where are we now? It includes 4 ideas for your consideration. The first was posted last week   “A logical-rational bias” and I am pleased to say it prompted a good discussion. (Press ‘previous’ to view). The next two sections are below. Again very short but I hope they are thought provoking.

Straitjacketed?

We are all straitjacketed to a certain extent. We take on the mantels of the organisations and institutions we become part of and begin to think and behave in a certain way – ‘group think’.

Even if we rebel it is often against the parameters set by the context so we are, to a certain extent, still locked within a given system.

When developing a workshop recently, I found myself trapped by the value I placed on established ‘models of creativity’ instead of giving value to my own thinking and ideas. I kept myself in the bounds of the knowledge created by others, which surrounded and created my world and understanding of the subject. What was this if not straitjacketed thinking?

Scared to play

As adults we are scared to play. Our notion of being an adult, especially at work, is being sensible, serious, measured discussions and debates, little laughter. Having fun is frowned upon and seen as ‘not working’.

We all know of some of the famous companies who encourage play and fun environments like Google and Innocent but these are few and far from the everyday experience of what most of us know as ‘work’.

In my workshops I sometimes ask people to draw a problem, or mould their problem using play dough. There are usually three reactions: some people become paralysed by the situation; others laugh and eventually start playing and make something fairly descriptive; and the third, smaller group relish the challenge and often create something a little more left field, metaphorical.  It’s as if they have been waiting for someone to give them permission to let out their creative selves.

The majority of us feel embarrassed, too self-conscious, as adults to do this kind of thing. Are we afraid of what people will think? Are we afraid of looking stupid?

Will this same fear keeps us from presenting new, off the wall ideas, to our peers? In which case – it becomes a problem.

My questions for you:

Do you feel ‘straitjacketed’ in anyway? How much of this is self imposed? 

(It was this realisation that prompted me to write my book- it was the vehicle through which I could ask myself what i thought about the subject of creativity.)

Are you scared or too self conscious to play/ be playful in your attitude?

Are you lucky enough to be in a work environment that encourages a sense of creative play/ exploration?

 

Who says you’re not creative?

Towards the end of last year I wrote my first book – with the working title “Who says you’re not creative”. In my work as a Creative Facilitator, I come across lots of people who label themselves as ‘un-creative’ which I am not even sure is a word! My book is a response to all those people. We are all creative. We’ve just got a little disconnected from our right brain/ our capacity for creativity.

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This book is an accessible insight into creativity which aims to help people re-connect to their natural/ inherent creativity. It’s currently in the process of being published but I wanted to start releasing it into the world anyway.

The book format is a ‘one concept per page’ rather than a heavy narrative text. It follows a journey which begins with an understanding of why many of us consider ourselves as ‘not creative’ and shows how we can ‘break free’ and get to a state where ‘we absolutely can be!’  

Comments are most welcome but only constructive ones please. There is enough negativity in the world. (I borrow this approach from the wonderful Richard Wilkins who said something similar at the end of one of his talks last year – it made many of us chuckle).

It would be great to foster creative conversations on here and find out what you think of the sections I publish. If they resonate with you I’d love to hear about it.

P.S. If you want to know a little more about my work as a Creative Facilitator here’s the link to my main website http://www.thecreativethinkingcompany.co.uk.

Welcome to my world.

Section 1: Where are we now?

 A logical-rational bias

We live in a society that places greater value on rational logical thought rather than creativity. We can see quite clearly how the western education system places science and maths above the arts and humanities. You only have to think back to your time at school and the pressure to choose certain ‘academic’ subjects that would be more likely to help you get a good job in later life. Those good jobs being: medicine, accountancy, teaching not artists, dancers or writers.

Many people talk of this split in terms of the left and right side of the brain where the left side houses logical, rational, analytic processes and the right: images, sound, imagination, colour. This split is metaphorical rather than the way the brain is actually structured which is far more complex. It does however provide a useful shorthand for different ways of thinking.

The value difference between left and right brain thinking can perhaps be attributed to a belief that the more academic disciplines would contribute to building a more wealthy and successful society. This may have served us well up until now. Now we find ourselves in a recession, which many say was predictable and is here for the next 5 years. Might our reliance on logical rational thought let us down? Would now be a good time to embrace the right side of the brain?

Unfortunately due to the left brain bias, we need to re learn how to use all those wonderful things of the right brain like our imagination, playing with the impossible and nonsensical, the use of metaphors, images and lateral thinking. Fortunately we can re-learn.