Tag Archives: Creativity

Creative Juice #52

Creative Juice #52

Your weekly fix of artistic inspiration.

  1. House block quilts.
  2. Palm paintings.
  3. Advice about creativity.
  4. A closer look at Gustav Klimt’s painting, The Kiss.
  5. How to get really good at something.
  6. I am such a terrible mother. I never even thought of doing this. My girls are now in their twenties and thirties. Maybe when (if) I have granddaughters…
  7. Photos of Jersey City and Manhattan. (As a former Jersey girl, I get a little homesick when I see scenes like these.)
  8. Do you have too many books? Maybe not.
  9. Amazing footage captured on a security camera and the science behind it.
  10. Art with an expiration date.
  11. How an engineering student became a children’s book illustrator.
  12. What do you see in the clouds?

Creative Juice #51

Creative Juice #51

Your weekly dose of artistic inspiration:

Creative Juice #41

Creative Juice #41

A dozen expressions of rampant creativity.

Creative Juice #39

Creative Juice #39

Good stuff here this week. Lots of ideas to make you more creative.

  1. The perils of being a new photographer (or how to almost get thrown out of a concert by Prince).
  2. Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik has written a new book for girls.
  3. What’s your superpower?
  4. Did you know former president George W. Bush is an artist?
  5. Photos or paintings?
  6. I love keeping up with this quilt group.
  7. What can you do with a dead butterfly?
  8. The illustrations of Pat Achilles.
  9. Interesting reading list.
  10. I may already have included this article in a previous Creative Juice, but it bears rereading—it’s that important for your brain.
  11. Five things you can do now to encourage your creativity.
  12. Another strategy to improve your creativity.

Creative Juice #35

Creative Juice #35

Thirteen lucky articles to make you smile and tweak your imagination.

Guest Post: Clutter Is Killing Your Creativity (And What to Do About It) by Jeff Goins


Thanks to Jeff Goins, author of The Art of Work and blogger at Goins, WriterYou can also follow him on Medium

Some weeks, my desktop is a disaster: full of papers and files and sticky notes with half-baked ideas. Yes, I am your typical “creative.” Disorganized and disheveled, I proudly chalk it up to the artist in me. But if I’m honest, this is embarrassing.

Clutter is not my friend; it is my enemy.


Clutter is procrastination. It is the Resistance, a subtle form of stalling and self-sabotage. And it keeps me (and you) from creating stuff that matters.

The mess is not inevitable. It is not cute or idiosyncratic. It is a foe, and it is killing your art.

Clean up your mess

Before beginning her career as a successful author and speaker, Patsy Clairmont did something unexpected. She washed the dishes.

She wanted to take her message to the world, but as she was readying herself, she felt nudged to start in an unusual way. She got out of bed and cleaned her house.

In other words, Patsy got rid of the mess. And it put her in a position to start living more creatively. We must do the same.

Bringing your message to the world does not begin on the main stage. It starts at home. In the kitchen. At your desk. On your cluttered computer. You need to clear your life of distractions, not perfectly, but enough so that there’s room for you to create.

The relationship between clutter and creativity is inverse. The more you have of the former, the less you have of the latter. Mess creates stress. Which is far from an ideal environment for being brilliant.

Make more with less

Jack White has an interesting philosophy on creativity. He believes less is more, that inspiration comes from restriction. If you want to be inspired, according to Jack, then give yourself boundaries. That’s where art blossoms.

At a public speaking conference earlier this year, I learned this truth, as it relates to communication. An important adage the presenters often repeated was:

If you can’t say it in three minutes, you can’t say it in 30.

We spent the week of the conference writing and delivering five-minute speeches every day. We learned that if we couldn’t summarize our ideas in a few short sentences, then we couldn’t elaborate on them for half an hour. Sure, we could ramble and rant. But that’s not communicating. It’s word vomit.

I’ve learned to do this with writing. If I can’t say what I want in a sentence or two, then I’m not ready to share the idea. Prematurely broadcasting an idea before it can be described succinctly will cause you to lose trust with your audience and cost the integrity of your message.

When attention is sparse, the people with the fewest, most important words win.

Be Ernest Hemingway

In a world full of noise, it’s nice not to have to weed through digital SPAM to find the nuggets worth reading. But this doesn’t come naturally. Succinctly getting your point across is a discipline.

I like to talk — a lot. I often process ideas out loud as they come to me. But I find this frustrating when other people do it. So I’m trying to master the art of clutter-free writing.

Here’s what I do: I write and write and write, getting all my on “paper” (or computer or whatever). Then, I take out as many words as possible while still clearly communicating my message.

Because if I can say it in five words instead of 15, I should.

This process of cleaning up your message is not intuitive for people. But it isimportant — an essential discipline for anyone with something to say. If you don’t know where to begin, start here:

  1. Reclaim your inbox. Throw away magazines and newspapers you have no intention of reading. Clean up your email, getting it down to a manageable amount (zero, if you can).
  2. Clean up your desk. Again, throw away stuff you haven’t used in months.
  3. Find a clean space to create. This is different for everyone, but it needs to not stress you out.
  4. Limit distractions. Turn off email, phone, and social media tools. Force yourself to focus on one thing at a time.
  5. Start creating clutter-free messages. Remember: less is more. Use restrictions to be more creative.
  6. Repeat this for the rest of your life.

For more on ways to be more structured and focus as a creative, I’ve found these books to be really helpful:

How do you deal with clutter and creativity? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

Creative Juice #31

Creative Juice #31

Pretty things to see. Creative stuff to do.

Creative Juice #25

Creative Juice #25

Fourteen more articles to start your Friday creative streak:

  • Melanie McNeil shares the quilts she made in 2016.
  • I think you may be obsessive compulsive if you do this, but I love the results. I may have to try this idea…
  • Nostalgia time. My husband had one of these in his classroom to help his students improve their listening skills.
  • Are you jealous when you see all the creative things other people are doing?
  • Combining loves of ballet and reading.
  • The illustrations of Hanna McCaffery.
  • I think a dragon is the perfect subject for a quilt.
  • A grandfather posts a drawing a day for his grandchildren on his Instagram account.
  • Um, some of these one-of-a-kind Etsy finds are examples of creativity gone awry.
  • Scrap paper sculpture.
  • Joel Kioko, a young ballet dancer from Kenya.
  • The embroidery of Humayrah Bint Altaf
  • Norm 2.0 is known for his Thursday Doors photography posts, but here he combines doors and street art.
  • How do you do free-motion quilting at a retreat? Like this.

How to Ramp Up Your Creativity and Your Blogging Power by Participating in Challenges

How to Ramp Up Your Creativity and Your Blogging Power by Participating in Challenges

If you are a writer, a blogger, or an artist, an invitation to take part in a challenge can spur you to greater inspiration and output.  Challenges motivate you to try new forms of artistic expression or to set more ambitious goals.

On social media, writers and artists reach out from around the world to connect with like-minded creatives and issue challenges.


If you’ve been meaning to blog more regularly, challenges can help you do that.

Some challenges come with an expectation that all joiners will commit to the entire run of the challenge. Others allow you to drop in and participate whenever you want. Rules vary. Some are very specific; others allow great latitude.

Why to participate in challenges:

  1. To try something new you’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t yet. Stop procrastinating. Move out of your comfort zone. Grow—as a writer, as an artist, as a person.
  2. To teach yourself discipline by committing to perform at a certain level for a specific (or indefinite) length of time.
  3. To become aware of the work of other creatives. Once you enter a challenge, you’ll probably be curious to find out how others are interpreting a prompt or responding to the challenge. Seeing other ideas will stretch your imagination in new ways. Usually you can follow a tag on social media to find other entries. Sometimes you’ll make connections with people whose work you admire. They can be sources of inspiration and support, as well as quality entertainment and education.
  4. To drive new traffic to your blog. See #3. Other participants may want to check out your challenge entries, and if they like what they see, they may become regular followers of your work.

In the year and a half that I’ve been writing ARHtistic License, I’ve taken part in the following challenges:

Photography ChallengesFun Foto

  • Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge Cee is a professional photographer and instructor who maintains a dynamite blog and issues multiple challenges. Fun Foto has a weekly theme.
  • Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge This is for those pictures that defy categorization. You felt compelled to click the shutter, but it’s not a landscape, not a portrait, not a flower, not really a still life, it’s just… weird.
  • Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge For anything connected with transportation: vehicles, roads, signs, etc.
  • Cee’s Flower of the Day Every day, Cee posts a flower of the day. If you create a blog post featuring a photograph you’ve taken of a flower, share a link in the comment section of Cee’s latest Flower of the Day post.
  • Tuesdays of Texture Exploring those visuals that make you want to touch.
  • A Photo a Week Challenge Nancy Merrill is the photographer behind this challenge. New theme every Thursday.
  • 52 Weeks Photo Challenge New theme every Monday. Scroll until you find the current post.
  • Wordless Wednesday For this informal challenge, post a photograph on any social media using the hashtag #WordlessWednesday. Theoretically, no words are necessary to explain your photo.
  • Daily Post Photo Challenge New theme every Friday.
  • Color Your World Jennifer Nicole Wells’ color challenge.

Writing Challenges


  • My 500 Words The first challenge I ever took. This challenge changed my life by proving to me that I am a writer. Thank you, Jeff Goins.
  • NaNoWriMo Write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in November along with hundreds of thousands of other writers.
  • Weekend Writing Warriors We all want feedback on our work. Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors post 8-10 sentences of a work-in-progress. Participants also read and comment on each other’s snippets.
  • Share Your World Another of Cee’s challenges. Every week she asks several questions that you can answer, if you choose to.
  • OctPoWriMo October is Poetry Writing Month. The goal is to write a poem a day for 31 days. I managed to write three poems last October, but I will try again this year.
  • A to Z Challenge To participate in this challenge, you post daily in April (most Sundays excluded) featuring something that starts with the letter of the day.
  • Holidailies Post daily during the month of December.
  • Daily Post Challenge A new prompt every day.
  • And, this year I’m also participating in the Writing Cooperative’s 52-Week Writing Challenge to write one “thing” a week (which feels like cheating for me, since I post new content every day on ARHtistic License).

Art ChallengesICAD

  • Inktober An ink drawing every day in October. I managed three drawings last October. (Sigh.) I’ll try again this year.
  • Index-Card-a-Day Challenge Daily during June and July, do something creative on an index card.
  • World Watercolor Month Make a watercolor painting every day in July. I did mine on an index card to do double duty (see Index-Card-a-Day Challenge, above).
  • String Symphony Challenge A 2016 Zentangle challenge though a Facebook group, Zentangle All Around. This year there’s a new challenge, Taking It to the Next Level, and an art journaling study, and a Friday art journaling prompt. (I haven’t decided yet whether I will do any of these. I will probably “lurk” for a while.) You have to join the group first to be able to participate.

Do you have artistic goals that you want to accomplish this year? Then you may want to participate in the ARHtistic License Creative Goals Challenge.


How do I find out about challenges?

I find out about challenges mostly when the bloggers I follow participate in one. Many blog hosts offer easy ways for you to find blogs that share your interests. WordPress has a Reader feature. You can list tags you’re interested in, and any WordPress blog post that contains that tag will automatically show up in your Reader queue. Here are some of the tags I follow: art, creativity, faith, piano, memoir, quilting, writing. You get the idea. I also add tags for whichever challenges I’m participating in at the time. When I find a particular blog that I like, I subscribe to it. I might not read it every day, but I’ll either get a notification through email or see it when I scroll through my Reader. I think I’m following about 200 blogs at the present time…

Here are some other sources of challenges:

What about you? Do you participate in any challenges? Which ones? How did it work out for you? Did you learn something as a result of taking the challenge? Share in the comments below.

Creative Juice #23

Creative Juice #23

Fifteen articles to inspire you in the New Year:

  • Glass miniature masterpieces.
  • These dogs, drawn by Holly Lucero, will give you nightmares.
  • A way to look at your subject so you can draw it more accurately.
  • Skyscrapers into infinity.
  • Please buy me a book illustrated by Tihomir Čelanović. I wish I could read the stories these drawings tell.
  • Breathtaking views of Paris, 1946.
  • I just love Suhita Shirodkar’s work. Take a peek at her sketchbook.
  • Here’s a cool zentangle technique.
  • You can turn a fail around.
  • Tips from people who have been around the block a few times.
  • Woody Guthrie’s New Year resolutions from 1943. I could make a few of these, even though I’m allergic to New Year resolutions.
  • I’m going to try this technique for watercolor backgrounds for zentangle.
  • The large-scale paintings of Salman Khoshroo. Be sure to watch the video of the artist at work. Fascinating.
  • A Christian’s take on creativity and mental illness. Though I’m also a Christian, I don’t believe exactly as she does, but it’s still an interesting essay. Warning: the video is decidedly unholy.
  • I’m thinking of participating in this challenge. How about you? It may help you reach one of your goals for 2017…