Aug 30, 2013

Simple Trick to Boost Creativity

Growing up, my room was a constant disaster zone. Of course, I knew right where everything was. Now that I'm an adult, my work space isn't as bad, but I'm not a picture of neat. Worse, I find myself channeling my mother by nagging my kids to clean up their mess. Turns out, while I might be inspiring them to make healthier choices with their tidy surroundings, I'm also most likely squashing their creativity. Read on for the science.

The Premise: Different Environments Inspire Different Behavior

Researchers from the University of Minnesota  detailed in Psychological Science did three experiments to test the effect of the orderliness or disorderliness of the environment on generosity, healthy snack choices, creativity and preference for classic vs. new.

The Result: Messy Matters

Want to lose weight or be more generous - clean up your space. Participants in the study in orderly spaces chose eat healthier snacks and to donate more money to charity

Want to be more creative - work messy. Those in a disorderly space, with papers strewn about on the table and floor, came up with more creative uses for ping pong balls than their counterparts in a neat, tidy room.

The reasoning behind this seemed to be hinted at in the third experiment that showed people in messy rooms are more open to new labels, whereas those in orderly spaces choose to stick to the traditional.

Read More About It

Interested in reading more info on how environment effects productivity and creativity? Try A Perfect Mess from Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman.

Having recently moved, I have disorder in spades right now. My writing juices should be flowing!

Next time your spouse or boss nags you to clean up, tell them you're busy being creative.

Aug 29, 2013

You might be a writer if...

     If you are constantly turning everyday things - stories in the news, people you meet on the street, objects you see lying about - into stories, you are probably a writer.
     For me, it’s not that I see things and try to imagine stories. It’s more of an OCD thing. Once my brain grabs hold of something, the story runs away on its own.
     Such it was when I saw my new blogger template. As I suffer from decisionitis, this was not my first choice in template. (It will most likely not be my last either, thus the picture in the post so that once I do change it, people still have a shot at understanding this post). I was going for edgy and fun, something that depicted my books, which are sexy, humorous, murder mysteries.
     As you can see, this is not that.
     But I was completely captivated by this house on the hill, with the clouds rolling by (which you can’t see in the still picture) . I instantly wanted to know who lived there and imagined the door opening and people coming out, going down the path to somewhere charming.
     Before long, I had a whole murder plot going, with Hill House (now named) being a B&B that overlooks a quaint (not yet named) town on the eve of its opening, with a haute English owner and a dead body on the floor. She has to solve the murder or she can’t open and will lose everything. Then I needed to know who died. I didn’t want to know. My brain wouldn’t quit until it had an answer.
     The Mayor, of course!
     And it’s reunion time, all kinds of characters are in town for it, some of them staying at our Englishwoman’s B&B.  
     The possibilities for this template kept coming. My first mystery is about an ex-socialite, forced to work at a morgue, who is accused of stealing the body of a murder victim for the mob. I can see the door of Hill House opening and the real body snatcher running down the path, body hoisted over his shoulder. And the holiday theme options make me giddy. That house can be decked out at Christmas brighter than the Griswolds.
     I’m sure part of it is because I recently moved to the mountains and partly because the header is animated it invites something to happen next. But until this story is done in my head,  down on paper or someone else strolls out of that door, this is my template. So let me know what you think of it.

     Writer friends – what’s the craziest thing that has given you a story?

Aug 21, 2013

Left Penned

For left handers the fountain pen poses a particular challenge. Us lefties push the pen across the page, while righties pull. That means unless we contort (and believe me, I’ve had teachers make some strange suggestions) we end up with ink all over our hand. Here's a good example.

When I saw this post from Flavorwire  on what famous people write with, I eagerly went to look, knowing that there would probably be a lot of fountain pens. Sure enough.

Despite my pen challenges and even in this era of technology, I’m still a paper writer first. There is creativity that occurs in the tactile effort of putting pen to paper. Like Kerouac, I have a stack of notebooks.

How about you, writer friends – what do you write with? Have you gone totally digital?

Live Somewhere Beautiful

When I was little we moved from Granite City, Illinois to Kingwood, Texas, courtesy of Dad’s job . For my mother, this was heaven…the warmth, the open space, the friendly people with big hats…Four years later, we were again packing the moving van to head back to Granite City. Dad’s job hadn’t worked out. Tears flowed all around.

From that time on their retirement dream was to sell the house and move back to Texas. They saved every penny toward that goal. Conversations often began with “when we retire and move…”
But a funny thing happened on the way to retirement. Moving began to seem like a large chore. The conversations started beginning with “when we retire, being close to the kids…” Eventually it became unmentioned.

One night, I came into the care center my mom stayed at, covered in the latest offering of Wisconsin’s winter. She was in the lobby, sitting in her wheel chair, watching the snow and waiting for me. I’m sure I cursed as I flicked the wetness off of my scaf. Most likely I stomped my feet as much in a childish outburst over another snowfall as to get the snow off my boots.
     “I don’t know why you don’t just leave me for dead and move away from this God forsaken weather,” she said.
     “And be deprived your charming company,” I said, snapping back to my senses and kissing her on the cheek.
     “It’s the only damn thing you really want. Who said that, ‘life is wasted on the youth?’ Got that right.”

My mom passed away two years ago last July.

Today the trappings of my life are in a box, on a truck, headed to the picture in the header of this post, in my effort not to waste my youth.

That's our 15 yr. old in the picture with the truck. She's excited to go to school with people with accents.

Are you dreaming of living somewhere else? What's your plan to get there?

Curiosity Seekers

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