10 Ways To Clear Up Creative Constipation

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We’ve all been there. At the moment when you and your team need to be the most creative…NOTHING COMES OUT! You’re stalled, stopped up, CONSTIPATED! For me, it happens 3 or 4 times a year and never at an opportune time. There’s nothing worse than trying to force art and certainly nothing less satisfying than seeing a project roll out that’s well below expectations. So I thought I’d lay out 10 creative laxatives that have done the trick for me and my team.

– Don’t be Afraid to Wipe – Sometimes the best remedy is to wipe the canvas clean and start over. If dumping a weeks worth of work will finally bring a project to fruition…go for it!

– Move Your Tush – Sometimes it’s a change of venue that unclogs the pipes. Grab your computer, lift your butt off your chair and go somewhere else…anywhere but your office!

– Read the Paper – Okay, you’ll have to forgive the bathroom analogies…but work with me here. Grab a good creative magazine (for me it’s Live Design) and start reading. Or, go to flickr and enter a search term like “Stage Design” and see what comes up. You’d be amazing how inspiring others creativity can be.

– How About a Courtesy Flush? – Chances are you have a ton of things on your plate. It may be time to flush some of it and delegate it to someone else. It’s hard to be creative when you have your mind wrapped around a million things at once.

– Renuzit Duzit – Sometimes all you need is a little fresh air, a walk around the building or a quick jaunt to Starbucks. After all…nothing stinks worse than stopped up creativity.

– Maybe You Should Take Something – Yep I said it…Sometimes you need something to soften the flow of creativity. Maybe it’s adding a new person to your team or asking someone to take a break. You’d be amazed what can happen if you just shake things up a bit.

– PUSH! – I hate to say it, but there ARE moments when you just need to push harder. Order a pizza, bring in the coffee, lock your team in the room and start working through the blockage.

– Give it a Rest – Don’t be afraid to sleep on it for a night. Creativity flows best when we’re rested, focussed and not so stressed out. Sometimes the panic of being creatively blocked can be your worst enemy.

Warm Up the Seat First – Have your team search for random things they find inspiring and bring them to your next meeting. Spend a few moments warming up the creative process by talking about what they found.

Work Through the Discomfort – Unfortunately, there are times when the creative process is just simply uncomfortable. Sometimes you have to create through the pain. Just because you’re creatively constipated doesn’t mean you can’t create…it just means the process will be longer and more difficult than normal. You can do it!

 

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Raise, Build and Get Out of the Way

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This Sunday I had the chance to experience our worship environment from a different perspective. I wasn’t on stage, I wasn’t at the soundboard, I wasn’t running lights or video…I was simply there. When it comes to running a creative ministry, it really gets no better than watching your team do what they do…and do it well. From a leadership standpoint, there is no greater moment than when someone steps in to lead people, hits it out of the park and does so without you standing next to them.

A vibrant creative ministry, at its core, is all about raising up leaders, building teams and getting out of the way. If your creative teams and processes center around you and only you…it won’t be long before your ministry is drained of any kind of momentum. Forward motion will become a thing of the past and you will simply find yourself stuck in one place. 

Great creativity cannot thrive in one place…it needs to move, breath and expand. Great creative ministries are really no different. If you want momentum…Raise up people, build your teams…and get out of the way!

Now THIS is Creative…

Caught this on boingboing.net tonight…I love this kind of creativity!

 


Sara Watson, an English art student, turned a car “invisible” with a lovely trompe l’oeil paintjob:

Sara Watson, who is studying drawing at the University of Central Lancashire (Uclan), took three weeks to transform the car’s appearance.

She created the illusion in the car park outside her studio at Uclan’s Hanover Building in Preston.

The car is now being used for advertising by the local recycling firm that donated the vehicle.

Focus Grasshopper

Let’s face it, if you’re artistic, you most likely have a wondering mind. Focusing on a task requires silence, caffeine and absolutely zero distractions. Unfortunately, in the middle of church office life, this scenario is pretty difficult to come by. So what do you do? Here are a few things that have helped me over the years.

Structure: By its nature, creativity is random and resistant to structure, but your weekly “to do” list is not. Structure the things you have to do each week and create a routine. For me, I work through line ups and schedules on Monday’s, Work on next week’s music on Wednesday’s and schedule meetings on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. Everything else randomly falls in place between these structured elements.

Environment: Get out of your office. For some people that means catching up on email at Starbucks or working from home for a day. For me it means going to a quiet part of the building where I can experience an environment change and concentrate on the task at hand.

Lunch: I struggle with this one, but don’t be a “lunch skipper”. Even if you’re slammed, you’d be amazed how much more you can accomplish when you leave the office and grab a bite.

A Quiet Start: We all struggle with this one at times, but closing your office door and getting even 10 minutes with God can pave the way for a productive day and can put your focus on the very reason you do what you do.

Planning: I’m blessed to have a great creative team around me and a Sr. Pastor who is scheduled almost a year out, but I haven’t always had it this good. Don’t be afraid to push people for the info you need. It’s impossible to be focused and productive if you have no idea what you need to be producing. Most Sr. Pastors or non-creative types have no clue what it takes to create great art…it’s up to you to open their eyes and get what you need.

These are just a few things that have helped me out, but the list could go on for quite some time. The bottom line is you need to be focused to be creative and it’s up to you to put yourself in a position where this is possible.

A Great Creative Quote

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“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
Oscar Wilde

How often have you found this true as a creative person? God wakes you in the middle of the night and your wheels begin spinning. You may doze off here and there, but for the most part, sleep time is over. Sometimes you just lie in bed and think through your week or dream through an idea for a new series or project. Other times you may even get out of bed to read, create or just pace the floor.

I love this about God. I love that our creativity is based on His schedule not ours. I love that He has created us as dreamers…people who see life, ministry, the world and everyone in it in a different light. I love that we get the privilege of taking our creative ques from the creator of all things.

Managing Personalities

One of my favorite things about my job is getting to deal with an incredibly eclectic group of personalities. On one side you have the “artists”…People who tend to be creative, emotional, passionate and yes…at times, irrational. Then you have the “techies”…People who tend to be analytical, detail oriented, task driven and yes…at times, irrational.

It gets even more interesting when you realize the number of “sub-groups” that exist within each of these groups of people. It sounds like it should be a giant pain in the tail, but the truth is…I love it! I love that God has created so many different personalities. I love that artists are like finger prints…no two are quite alike. I love that 10 different techies will come up with 10 different solutions to a simple problem. But most of all, I love taking 2 groups of people that have so little in common in regards to their personalities and helping them find a common ground in ministry.

These days, it’s difficult to have a successful arts ministry without finding that common ground. You can take a great music team and amplify each song with the backing of a great tech team. You can take a great video and make it greater by supporting it with a great piece of music. You can create that “wow moment” each weekend when you have people working together for a common cause. Isn’t this the way God designed it in the first place? Isn’t it true that the church is stronger when we are one? Isn’t it true that we all have one undeniable piece of common ground found in Jesus?

It’s no different in creative ministry. God designed different personalities, different gifts and different callings, for the sole purpose of leading people to experience God on a deeper level. The key to managing it all is found in our Christ centered common ground. We don’t always have to agree…in fact, I find that we come up with a better end product when we have healthy debate in the creative process…but none of us can deny that Jesus is the focus of it all. Keep Him in the center and you’ll find that managing it all becomes a true joy.

The Experience

People often ask me what I love most about being in ministry. My answer is simple…I love creating the experience. The great thing about an experience (Sunday morning, Wednesday night or otherwise) is that it is constantly changing. One week, the experience may be very upbeat, visual and “in your face”…whereas the next, it may be intimate, introspective and filled with pause.

It’s through the experience that people are introduced to Jesus. It’s through the experience that people who already know Him come to know Him in a deeper way. It’s through the experience that hearts are moved and lives are altered. The experience is an incredible tool…and when it’s surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit, it is limitless.

I’ve come to look at the experience as a blank canvas waiting to be painted. The central theme of the painting is the message. The mission of the experience is to amplify the message…to find a way, from the moment people walk in to the moment they walk out, to bring their focus to the message. Songs, sets, visuals, video, scripture, interviews, testimonies, lighting, effects…it all ties together and, if used effectively, can drive home the message in a way that is unforgettable…

THAT, is the experience…and THAT is what I love most about my job.