19 Questions to Kickstart a More Creative Life
People like to talk about changing the world. Jesus makes the crazy promise that we actually can change the world. But the bar to do it is high. We need to love, fully, with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. These four creative expressions form the basis for our work in the world. Your job is to figure out what you love, and how to fully love it.
Here are 19 questions to help you figure out the wonder of a more creative life.
1. What Do I Really Love?
The first big step is to love something. I mean really love it, to the exclusion of many other things you might do with your life. You know you love something when you don’t care how you look. You’re not detached or ironic about it. Crazy enthusiasm is cool, and always has been. Care deeply about something, and let other people know it. If it's not clear, don't worry. Love grows with practice. That's what the other questions are for.
Heart: Find The Un-Peace
2. What is my source of un-peace?
You cannot sustain yourself doing something for which you have no passion. And when I say passion I mean the thing that you can't shake. Distractions don’t count. Your know it's your source of un-peace because it doesn’t satisfy you; it breaks your heart. It keeps you up at night.
3. What did I love to do as a child?
Perhaps you don’t want to be a fireman anymore, but the impulse matters. If you wanted to be a fireman, why? Perhaps you love a thrill, or being a hero, or helping people. Brainstorm your unspoken motivations. Write down 10 things you found fun or intriguing about your childhood dream job.
4. What do I think about all the time?
In your current work, what parts of the job light you up? What parts shut you down? Write down 5 things that energizes you about your daily work and 5 things that steal your energy.
5. What do I envy?
Envy can be an ugly emotion, but it’s also instructive. Who do you pay attention to? The challenge is to separate an unhealthy envy for another’s fame and fortune with a healthy indicator for someone else’s passions and work life.
6. What nagging problem has found its way back into my life repeatedly?
If you keep saying, somebody oughta fix that problem, then perhaps that somebody is you.
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Mind: Explore Divergent Thinking
7. In what area do I reject the conventional wisdom?
This kind of thinking may be difficult to find in the recesses of our convergence organized minds. Often, what if questions aren’t world changing. They’re just unwilling to accept the regular way of thinking about something.
8. What are my top two fields of expertise and interest?
All human creativity is ex materia - it doesn’t happen out of the blue, but through new combinations of existing ideas. A lot of people have contributed to each of your fields of interest. But what lies unnoticed in between?
9. What are the top two most common practices in my daily life?
You may think you’re doing something while you wait for your big break, such as raising a child. But what if your creative inspiration isn’t separate from but informed by your day to day life?
10. In what areas of my life do I need to fill a gap in my knowledge?
Creativity requires regular input. Name an area of interest where some new reading could benefit you.
11. What are my biggest handicaps?
Everybody has them. You know yours. Perhaps it’s the poor start you got on your financial life, or having to overcoming mediocre schools and education opportunities. It may be a physical limitation or a sickness. It may be having to care for multiple children and/or an aging parent. But the very thing that limits you could be the source of your greatness. Like the way in which David’s mastery of a slingshot overcame his inability to fight a giant soldier, look for unique ways your handicap positions you to be good at what you do.
Soul: Commit to Your Craft
12. How can I improve my ability to capture raw ideas as they come?
If there’s a single most important, critical step of the process, this is it. You MUST get down the new idea down when it happens, even if you have no idea what it means or how to use it. You cannot say, oh, that’s good, I’ll write it down later. You must stop in the middle of whatever you’re doing and capture the thought.
13. What are five new ideas for today?
Create daily space to write down 5 new ideas, every day. Keep them in a single place like a journal. Index them for later reference. This may seem impractical but I used to struggle for good blog post ideas; now I have literally hundreds of unfinished posts.
14. How can I add to my body of work today?
Inspiration is like mining raw ore; the routine is the refining process. I don’t often strike a new vein during my daily writing time. Sometimes it happens and sometimes not. But I always have plenty to work on because I have been diligent with step 12. If I capture an idea when it hits then I always have plenty to mold and shape when time frees up.
Strength: Make a Plan
15. What is the name of my new product / service / program?
What’s a title for your big idea? Don’t blow this off; language determines direction. I write at least 10 new titles for every article I write, and spend months on a book title.
16. Who am I making this idea for?
The target audience is not everyone, which is an illusion. Be specific.
17. What is the problem I intend to help a person solve?
There are two types of needs. The first is the market need, which is an omission in the current product / service / literature that your idea will fill. The second is the felt need, which is a feeling that the idea will satisfy.
18. What is the core promise my idea makes for others?
What task or job to you intend to help people solve? What job do they have to do that you want to help them complete? It’s easy to get wrapped up in our ideas, but people’s needs are immediate and tactical. Where are people stuck and how can you help them get unstuck?
19. What will make people care enough to choose my idea over another?
Name up to three central features or components of your idea, three benefits it offers to the one who uses it, and three things you hope the user will become or achieve with your idea.
The catch is, it’s hard to do this alone. For a different perspective, find someone to go over these questions with, and see what they tell you.
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