Discover Your ‘First Things’ for Success in 2015

Spring Dogwood Blooming, Oxley Nature Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma photo by kristin nador kristin nador writes anywhere blog www.kristinnador.com
What are your ‘first things’?
by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador
The start of a new year inevitably creates pressure to think about the past, and the future. We examine what has happened during the last 365 days, take away fine memories, or slam the book shut on an unproductive or particularly difficult or heartbreaking year. We have a finite amount of time, and time seems more pertinent as the years progress. Each year means one less year on our personal ‘deadline’, and while some feel the pressure to make the best of it, others experience guilt that they haven’t been using their time wisely up until this point.

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100+ Ways To Maximize Your Creativity in 2014

788px-Jigsaw_(When_Art_Imitates_Life)_(8164506694)

jigsaw, (When Art Imitates Life) courtesy of russavia, Creative Commons

What are your plans for 2014?

A new writing project? Getting back to something you let drop last year? Getting healthy, working on relationships?

A new year means a new beginning, a chance to re-invent how you do life. Time to reassess, refocus, recommit. We make resolutions to stop bad habits and start new ones.

It’s also a great time to get new inspiration for your creative self. Doing something different stretches you, keeps ideas fresh, helps you explore new mindsets. I’m a list girl (just ask Keeper Hubby about my piles of lists) so I collected this list of creativity hacks with links to help fire up the sparks. Some may be simple, others harder or more expensive, but if you’re committed to having your best creative year, some of the ideas in this list could help your imagination go where it’s never gone before.

Build your brain, start new pathways of thought, break down fear barriers that have blocked your art, and have fun. My plan is to try something on this list each week, in addition to drilling down on my daily writing time. 2014 is the year to let your creativity loose!

  1. Sleep for eight hours every night.
  2. Take a walk.
  3. Keep a dream journal.
  4. Create at the same time every day.
  5. Create at a different time of day.
  6. Listen to Mozart. Or Samba. Or Nirvana.
  7. Shape something (play-doh, clay, pottery, bread) with your hands.
  8. Sketch your ideas.
  9. Listen to TED talks about creativity.
  10. Spend time in nature.
  11. Attend a poetry reading.
  12. Keep yourself hydrated.
  13. Go people watching.
  14. Observe others’ power of observation: see how many days you can wear the same outfit/clothing item before someone notices. (Note: permission to wash items while testing this theory.)
  15. Learn a new language.
  16. Try Karaoke.
  17. Paint a picture.
  18. Schedule your daydreaming.
  19. Learn to code.
  20. Practice Tai Chi.
  21. Play old school board games.
  22. Write with a fountain pen.
  23. Repurpose an item in your house into something new.
  24. Fold paper.
  25. Dance like nobody’s watching.
  26. Put together a comedy routine for an open-mike night (or family night).
  27. Explore craft ideas on Pinterest.
  28. Write a short story in a genre you’ve never tried before.
  29. Play a brain game: Sudoku, Scrabble, Mahjongg, etc.
  30. Create a prompt box or file with first lines/ideas and pick one a week.
  31. Laugh.
  32. Freewrite.
  33. Walk away from a project for a while.
  34. Color in a coloring book.
  35. Wear a wig for a day.
  36. Write in a different direction on lined paper.
  37. Increase the awareness of each of your senses for ten minutes per day.
  38. Make a Pinterest inspiration board.
  39. Teach your hands something new.
  40. Visit an art museum or gallery.
  41. Spend time with some children you know. Ask them questions to get a different perspective on life.
  42. Exercise.
  43. Do a mind map.
  44. Move your eyes back and forth.
  45. Read fiction.
  46. Purposely make something imperfect. Enjoy the freedom.
  47. Start a creatives group. (Think of Hemingway and his pals in Paris.)
  48. Wake up and write.
  49. Keep a daily journal.
  50. Create a persona and take it for a walk in public.
  51. Turn off your email/computer/smartphone.
  52. Meditate.
  53. Fail.
  54. Have a well-established way to capture ideas. You’re more likely to let ideas float around your head because you aren’t afraid to lose them.
  55. Experience live music.
  56. Be a fashion maverick. Wear something you love even if it’s not in style.
  57. Enter an arts contest. (writing, photography, state fairs)
  58. Spend a day completely by yourself.
  59. Visit a public garden.
  60. Play a video game.
  61. Make a vision board.
  62. Go barefoot in public.
  63. Write a letter to someone you haven’t been in contact with for a while.
  64. Build a birdfeeder.
  65. Create a comic book character.
  66. Write a story about something you’ve never told anyone with pen and paper. When you finish, burn it.
  67. Learn to play an instrument.
  68. Memorize a passage or quote that inspires or is important to you.
  69. Declutter your desk.
  70. Declutter a room.
  71. Change the lighting in a room.
  72. Light some candles.
  73. Make a list.
  74. Expand your social circles. Meet different people, and people who are different from you.
  75. Doodle.
  76. Pray.
  77. Plant a garden.
  78. Take a class.
  79. Eat ‘brain foods’.
  80. Do yoga.
  81. Choose colors that promote creativity.
  82. Learn something new every day.
  83. Drink coffee.
  84. Time your creativity.
  85. Take a social media sabbatical.
  86. Drink green tea.
  87. Take a nap.
  88. Think about a happy memory.
  89. Eavesdrop on conversations in public.
  90. Decide there is no right or wrong way to think about a problem or project.
  91. Read biographies of successful creatives.
  92. Dim the lights.
  93. Learn about Method acting techniques.
  94. Make a YouTube video.
  95. Make an art project using only your feet.
  96. Volunteer.
  97. Watch a sunrise.
  98. Watch a sunset.
  99. Imagine the opposite.
  100. Spend time in another climate or culture. (This one takes planning and $$)
  101. Read classic literature.
  102. Take a photo a day. Try Fat Mum Slim’s photo challenge for inspiration.
  103. Make a conscious decision every day to reject perfectionistic thinking.
  104. Snuggle with a pet.
  105. Soak in a bath.
  106. Play ‘What if?’ Let your mind follow the ideas no matter how silly.
  107. Learn to knit, crochet, embroider.
  108. Watch a travel show or attend a travelogue.
  109. Solve a problem by imagining a fictional invention.
  110. Build with Legos.
  111. Watch the midnight sky.
  112. Relax.

And write. Write to let the percolating ideas flow. What will you do to be more creative in 2014?


What Diana Nyad Can Teach Us About Unwavering Passion, Writing, and Life

triathletes, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Oct. 15, 2005) U.S. Navy, public domain

triathletes, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Oct. 15, 2005) U.S. Navy, public domain

On Monday, September 2, 2013, author, journalist, motivational speaker, and endurance swimmer Diana Nyad was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

Diana Nyad website

Here are some interesting facts about that sentence:

Diana Nyad tried to complete this swim four other times. She finally did it.  At age 64.

Spending 53 hours straight swimming 110 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida, facing sharks, rough Gulf Stream currents, and the stinging jellyfish that derailed her last three tries, Nyad walked up on shore and announced she had three messages:

  1.  “Never give up.”
  2.  “You’re never too old to chase your dreams.”
  3.  “It looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”

Once Diana decided to chase her dream, she wasn’t going to let go. She trained day after day, month after month, year after year. Even when the dream looked crushed. Repeatedly.

See  what she says is her ‘unwavering passion’ here:

What dream are you willing to chase? What book longs to be written? What obstacle are you willing to overcome? What work are you willing to do to make it happen? 

Dreams without hard work are nebulous fantasies that float away.

Diana could have given up after her first attempt. She could have admitted to failure at her second attempt. It would have been understandable for her to determine that her dream was out of reach after her third and fourth attempt. She could have blamed the jellyfish, the lightning storms, old age closing in. She could have blamed her asthma.

But she says for over thirty years she pictured herself walking up on the Florida shore.

What do you visualize yourself accomplishing? What do you see coming to pass in your mind’s eye when reality gives a different view? What vision of hope do you have for yourself and your life?

Diana didn’t train alone. She didn’t make her final attempt to cross the ocean alone. She had a team of 35 people believing in her dream with her, supporting and working alongside her.

Writing, like endurance swimming, seems like a solitary sport, but it ultimately takes a team.

Who is your dream team? Who believes in you and your vision? Who can you lean on when dream crushers come your way?

Surround yourself with those who want to believe and invest in you and your dream.

Diana Nyad never gave up. Maybe some people thought she was crazy. But she did what she set out to do. And proved it’s never too late.

What dream will you never give up?