Add Power to Your Creativity with the Basics

Whether you are just learning about your creativity or have been a creative forever, you can add power to your creativity with the basics. Regular review of the basics of your craft will keep your skills sharp. But remember to revisit these eight basics of creativity. That will also sharpen your skills.

mage of a man's hand with the index finger pointing at you with the words you can under it. You can add power to your creativity with the basics

Create Something Every Day

Create even when you don’t feel like it. Be your own boss, expect results. Even if you can only spend fifteen minutes right after you get up or during your lunch break… whenever. Creating something every day is akin to exercising. You strengthen that creative muscle by exercising daily. When your habit is to create something every day, your creativity will be there on the days when you don’t feel like working.

Always Have Your Basic Tools on Hand

Image of various tools--screw drivers, box cutter, wrenches, pliers, and hammer--always have your crafts tools at hand

Tools can be anything. Pen, paper, ink, software, hardware, techniques, reference books, even your workspace.

It’s okay if you can’t afford the optimal tools right away, but you can grow your collection of tools. 

One tool I strongly recommend is an ergonomic workspace.

• Practice Your Craft’s Basics

All arts have basic rules or guidelines. Make it a habit to review the basics via a textbook, with a critique partner, or with a mentor regularly. If you’re stuck, reviewing the basics might help you out of that rut. A strong understanding of the basics will give your creativity a powerful boost.

• Brainstorm

Image of a brain with electicity crackling thru it and lightening coming out of the bottom--brainstorming is one way to add power to your creativity with the basics
Illustration of a brain with lightning coming out of it. Concept for a brain storm

Schedule yourself a yes-yes brainstorming session. All ideas, no matter how stupid, ridiculous, or extreme you may think they are, in this session they are acceptable. Make a list or sketch. Then mix and match them to create new ideas.

Ask questions

Question the basics. Who, what, why, how, and sometimes where can be your creativity friends. They can jumpstart ideas you’ve brainstormed or ideas that aren’t quite what you want. Ask, why is this so? Can you alter it without ruining the esthetics of your art? Can you omit it? How can you turn it on its head?

Fill the well

Make it a regular habit to read inspirational (to you) fiction or nonfiction, view images, listen to sounds, feel textures, or experience new or revisit familiar scents. Find the two or three methods that fill your creative well and make it a habit to go to those regularly.

Copy the Masters

You may think this is for painters only. But it’s not. Writers, dancers, singers, no matter what your creative skill, copy the master—or try to. It’s amazing what you learn by making an exact copy and then playing with the Master’s work to see if you can improve it.


Believing in your creativity is the most important basic of any creative’s mind set. If you are always putting yourself down, demeaning your abilities, you are diminishing your creative power. So practice believing in your creativity. Start with a ritual or a mantra. Act as if you believe you are creative and real belief will follow.

Make it a Habit

You’ve heard the line: if you don’t plan, plan to fail. It’s true in creativity and in productivity. Set a place, a date, and a time you plan to create. Then guard that time with everything you’ve got. When you show up regularly and you protect that time, you reinforce your creativity. The habit of showing up regularly does wonders for being able to create every time you show up.


image of a pair of hands working wet clay

There are people who believe they are multi-focus creatives. I’m not here to diss them, but if you are starting out or frustrated or blocked. Focus on one craft. Or focus on one project. You don’t have to limit yourself forever. But unless you focus, you cannot know the basics or the limits of your creativity. To increase your creativity, limit your options anytime you’re stuck or feeling frustrated.

Embrace Bad Ideas and Mistakes

Part of creativity is mistakes and bad ideas. Embrace that because one day you’ll take what you think is a mistake or a bad idea and create something great.

Join a Creative Community

image of four hands with different skin colors gripping the wrists of the other and creating a square, a community of support

There are all kinds of creative communities. In-person, online, social media groups, coffee house groups, work groups, and groups that get together for movie nights. Those that share their work with each other may not be what you need. You might need a social group to share your frustrations or discuss techniques or problems. Shared journeys are often inspiring. Yes, most creatives are introverts, but we all need some social interaction. Choose what works best for you.

If you can’t find a community, make one yourself. There are many ways you can do this. Look at the ways your art form can appear in a creative community and go for it. 

And never feel obligated to stay in a creative community that belittles you or your talent. You may also need a different community at different times in your creative life. There’s no shame in finding what you need or in leaving behind a group you may have outgrown.

You are Creative

But you must nurture creativity. Feed it the basics. Exercise it. Practice, not to be perfect, but to give your creativity power. Regularly revisiting the basics will add power to your creativity. Remember to be creative, you don’t have to be perfect.

Do you remember to add power to your creativity with the basics? Did I miss a basic you revisit? Please share in the comments below. 

How to Hang onto Hope When It’s Impossible

If you look up National Day of Hope, you’ll find many different days—many different cases where hope is needed. The month of April has been designated the Month of Hope by Mothers In Crisis. Why so many? Does that mean that hope is in short supply? No. Those expressions of hope are reminders. Reminders that hope is something we must practice in order to hold onto. In good times and bad, hope is both a salve and a propellant. When times are bad there are ways you can hang onto hope when it’s impossible.

sunlight bursting through dark clouds, one reminder to hang onto hope when it's impossible. Read on for ways to help you practice hope.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Desmond Tutu

Lean In

Lean into the tough moments. Accept the suckitudinousness and get through it. Bad things happen. You can’t stop them. Ignore them at the expense of an opportunity to grow and learn. Usually an ignored problem comes back, magnified.

Yes, there are some situations you should run away from, but if your life (physical, emotional, financial, etc.) isn’t in danger, face the situation. It isn’t that hope doesn’t exist when times are bad, it’s that you lost your hope. But you can hang onto it, or even find it again. Here are some steps that will help.

Hope is the thing with feathers 
 That perches in the soul 
 And sings the tune without the words 
 And never stops at all.

 Emily Dickinson


Learn from the bad times. How is this like a time in the past? What did you do then? Will that work this time? 

What can you learn that will help you in the future? Write it down. The wisdom you gain in this step, will make the next time easier.

Get rid of the crap

Don’t let negatives from yourself or others sit and fester. You wouldn’t let a pile sit in the middle of your home, would you? Take the metaphorical or psychological crap out to the trash.

Turn on Your Creative Juices

In a time of destruction, create something.” 

― Maxine Hong Kingston

Ask yourself, what would it take to turn this into a positive or a gain. What’s the craziest way you could accomplish that? Work from there, you’ll see things from a new perspective.

Let People In

Supportive people are out there. Maybe they are friends or family. It could be there’s an organization or group that can give you what you need. Ask for help. They don’t know what you need until you tell them. Let them give you the support you need.

Care for Yourself

If you’re not getting the rest or nutrition or fluids or exercise you need, you will have a more challenging time. Give yourself the love and care you need to deal with the issue.

Find beauty, joy, or laughter. Do all three. These things soothe and recharge the soul. You’ll be stronger, healthier.

A purple iris, the flower of hope and one more reminder to hang onto hope when it's impossible. Read on for ways to help you practice hope.

Give Up And Move On

It’s okay. You’re not weak. Sometimes there are bad situations that won’t get better. You move on and do your best not to go to that place any more. You got this!

Follow Your Heart

Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 

― Shel Silverstein

During challenging times, we often overthink. We feel there’s an obligation, a should do, a right thing to do. If there’s the right thing to do and the thing that makes your heart sing, follow your heart. Happiness lies on that path and no other.

Hang Onto Hope

Let hope soothe your soul when it’s weary of the day-to-day battles. Hang onto hope so it can propel you to better days. Remember, when you hang onto hope when it’s impossible, anything can happen. Anything can be. What’s your best way to reconnect with hope when it seems impossible?

Practice Makes Perfect is Full of Baloney

Practice makes perfect is full of baloney. Some people who practice may reach perfection, but not most. Yet, practice is vital no matter what you’re doing. So how do we manage?

White text on a dark blue starry background reads "when practice becomes a game for you, that's when you're about to explode in your progress." Mary Buckham

When you Google “Fun Facts About Practice” you get a bunch of “fun with math” links. Um. That’s not what I had in mind. But, isn’t it interesting? We’re desperate to prove that mathematics can be fun, but not one word about practice as a thing to do. I believe we do a disservice to everyone with the practice makes perfect phrase. Practice becomes the thing that we focus on. We kill our enthusiasm with forced practice.

As a child, I took piano lessons. I loved playing piano but I grew to hate it. The rule at my house was thirty minutes of practice after homework and before anything else. I hated to practice. It was drudgery. The seconds ticked as if mired in molasses when I sat at the piano.

We improve with practice, without a doubt. And there are times when rote practice is what we have to do. But as Mary Buckham says it’s when our practice becomes a game that your progress will explode. And that’s what we’re looking for with practice—improvement.

Rote practice will bring some improvement. But typically that’s not where great progress happens. Should we make practice fun? Like the “fun with math” approach, it likely won’t work. What makes practice a game is your emotional investment in the process. Your emotional investment in the thing you practice.

My son didn’t care about reading. As a writer, that hurt! But he had an insatiable curiosity about how things worked. He spent hours learning to take things apart and put them together again. It’s still a passion of his to this day. That was where he found practice became a game for him. That passion led to lots of practice and his abilities exploded. (I swear the boy can take anything apart and put it back together again, blindfolded!)

I practice piano today, but practices are brief and infrequent. My skill isn’t great. But I have found my “game.” You guessed it. Writing. When I’m writing or learning about writing the time flies past. I’m so engrossed I don’t know I’ve missed a meal or that I’m an hour late for bed. Has my progress exploded? You betcha!

Next time you find yourself dreading practice. Stop. Remember that practice makes perfect is baloney. Look for the passion. Your passion will make practice a game. Your practice will explode your progress.