Ways To Free Up Your Creativity

Three tools that I use to get creatively moving

Sometimes I get stuck. I might be in a bad mood or can’t seem to get a break. Anything that can get in my way of my schedule, does.

creativity

Graphic Artist image courtesy of rawpixel.com

The last thing I feel like being is creative.

 

Creativity, however, can’t be left alone. It has to be worked at and nurtured.

How do you do that when you just feel…. blah?

I want to share a couple of techniques that have helped me when I need a creative boost.

  1. Sit down and do small little chunks of work.

    Small little bites at a time. I found tremendous help in using a 6 minute timer to get things done. It’s such a useful tool for me to sit down focus and make headway on creative projects. Before I know it, I can look back and see that I’m make progress. Then I start to feel hopeful.

  2. Do something creative that uses a different skillset

    If you are stuck on a project and can’t seem to get inspiration, walk away for a little bit and pick up another creative tool. This could mean you pick up a musical instrument or a paintbrush. We can be use the creative part of our brain sometimes by giving it a break with other fun, creative things to do. I do this with drawing or playing music.  A friend of ours gave us a piano and I’ve been filling some of my spare time plunking out tunes and rediscovering my love of music. It’s a breath of fresh air for the spirit.

  3. Change your view, get out of the house (or even travel!)

    Being in the same space day after day can sometimes wear you down. We all need a little reset. Sometimes it’s as simple as climbing in the car driving to the other side of town and hanging out in a park. It could involve traveling.  In her article “8 Reasons Why Traveling is Good for Your Health”, Karen Reed observes that creative people will travel to a new place so they can be exposed to new ideas or cultures. It can serve as a trigger for creativity. My trip to Joshua Tree triggered the idea for an article. My recent family trip to Ireland and Scotland inspired me for several future goals.

There are immediate things you can do to get unstuck if you’re in a creative dry spell. The most important thing you can do is take action.

You’ll get there…

If you want more inspiration about how travel can not only benefit your creativity, but your health as well, read Karen Reed’s full article here…

8 Reasons Why Traveling Is Good for Your Health

And if you like to read what I learned from my recent trip to Ireland and Scotland, click here.

Dealing With Disappointment

God, family and friends helped through some a recent career speed bump

Got some disappointing news about something I had focused my time and energy on recently.
It stung.

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io

There were a few moments where I felt really down.

But, I’m in a better place than I was a few years ago.
A few years ago, this news could have kept me in a cycle of depression for weeks, if not months.
Now, I was able to pull out of it quicker. There is a Bigger Plan at work here.
I know that God has given me abilities, skills and talents that are to be used for His Glory,  not my own.
When I learn to keep Him as the center of all of it, my successes and my failures, it helps.
Believe me, I still feel pain.
But I also have hope that helps me get up and keep going.
Here are a few things that helped me during the recent rejection:
  • I shared with my wife and my friends. In the past, I used to keep all of it bottled up an would isolate. It didn’t help and people didn’t want to hang around that.
  • I read scripture that would lift me up. It’s surprising how much there is in the Bible about dealing with disappointment. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NLT) “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
  • I reviewed what I have accomplished in the past, and reassessed what that means for the future. Perhaps this recent rejection means that I’m supposed to be using my abilities in a different way. A way in which I would thrive and would be more in line with my talents.
Whatever the near future holds, I’m grateful for the love and support that I have along the way, from God, from my wife, my family and my friends. All of this is about serving others.
I hope today if you are feeling the sting of disappointment that you can find some peace and insight to see the Bigger Plan.

The 11 Months I Was Unemployed (Part 2 of 3)

(This is the second part of a story that tells the story of how I made a poor decision that left me unemployed for 11 months. For the first part read here)

After I had left my regular work at Disney in the fall of 2005, I thought things were going to go my way. We had some money saved up. I was sure that television commercial work would start pouring in.

I was so confident that I even turned down a seasonal opportunity from another theme park because I was going to leave that behind me.

My problem… I didn’t have a plan in place. I wasn’t in a regular acting class at the time or a regular group where I could exchange ideas about how to get consistent work.

I was just winging it.

Not having a plan in place was very detrimental. I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. Without a clear direction, I became easily distracted or overwhelmed by what needed to happen in order to book work.

Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of "24" (FOX) circa 2006

Kevin Gregg doing extra work on the set of “24” (FOX) circa 2006

I wasn’t handling it very well.

I felt guilty that I couldn’t seem to get things done so I started filling my days with anything and everything.  I started volunteering at the kids’ school, volunteering at church and just being involved in a myriad of different non-paying activities.

Volunteering is a good thing, but when you are not taking care of  basic income for the home it can cause its own problems. And it did. Before I knew it I found myself emotionally committed to things that had nothing to do with forward motion for my career. I was stretching myself too thin and getting exhausted. But at least I could claim that I was “busy.”

I also started numbing myself with food and booze. Not helpful. When you go to an audition for a television commercial, you don’t look too attractive when you’ve got a puffy face from booze and a poor diet.
I was fortunate enough to book odd jobs here and there. I did extra work for a few television shows but found the experience depressing and not very lucrative for a man trying to support a family of five.

(more…)

Is Netflix trying to hook you?

A vision of a "media pill" is not a good future

At a recent conference, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that entertainment is changing into something else. According to Hastings, movies and television are the changed versions of opera and literature. He envisions a future where media changes into a product that could be consumed, literally, as a pharmaceutical.

netflixpillA pill that someone would take in order to experience entertainment.

Yep, it’s true. You can see some of his comments here.

I say no.

When I hear a suggestion like that, I have a vision of people not engaging with one another, but instead isolating in a media hallucinogenic trip.

That is not the future. I believe that one of the purposes of art is to reflect the human experience and allow the opportunity for the Divine to speak to us. Art should point us towards working and growing together.

Even media that we might experience on our own (books, music, etc.) gives us the opportunity to talk to other people about our experiences.

Having a chemically altered experience that would manipulate our feelings and possibly drive us away from communicating with each other (“I can’t explain it, just take this and you’ll know what I mean”) is not an end we should be driving towards.

It doesn’t surprise me that this idea comes from the man who’s company gave birth to the concept of “binge watching”.

Be careful. Talk, engage, learn.

 

A Word of Encouragement

It starts in our homes. It starts in our churches. It starts in our communities.

It starts with talking with one another.

It starts with loving one another.

52647725 - religious christian woman looking trough the stained glass church window light.woman praying to god at st. alexander nevsky cathedral.finding serenity in religion,faith and hope concept.enlightenment

It starts with listening and discussing with one another.

It starts with action.

It starts with serving one another.

There is hope. There is a loving Creator who is calling you to His Purpose.

Heed His Voice. Help one another. That’s what He wants you to do.

You’ll get through this.

Pain is a part of the breaking down of those old parts of us, so we can make room for growth.

May God bless all of you today.

 

Inspiration to Get Through The Holiday Blues

The Breaking Out of Orbit Webinar returns to help move you forward

January used to be a very difficult time for me.

For years I would go through the holiday season starting with Halloween through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. It’s always a very busy time of the year in my industry.

It is a time that can be filled with joy, gratefulness and reflection. But for several years I would get through the season and be very depressed.

Part of it was realizing that I hadn’t accomplished the things that I wanted to do in the previous year. Part of it was feeling overwhelmed and being in the middle of winter and not having the inspiration to move forward. It was quite daunting. (more…)

Use Your Influence (No Matter How Old You Are Or Whatever The Circumstances)

A lesson from Akira Kurosawa's "Ikiru" (1952)

There is a concept that floats around a lot in the 21st century that, although it has good intentions, has been turned into something that I don’t think is very hopeful and encouraging for the human spirit.

The idea of “running out of time”, “being too old”, “being past your prime.”

It doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.

I understand the spirit in which these warnings may be given. Don’t squander your time or your resources.

Unfortunately, there is a negative effect that comes with this. People may feel that they have lost their opportunities in life, that the train has passed them by and all they can do at this point is throw in the towel.

I say: NO, NO, NO!!!!

You always have the ability to make an impact.

With this in mind, I remembered a great movie that example of using your influence and current skills, no matter what circumstance you may be dealing with…

“Ikiru” is a 1952 film by the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa who is know for “The Seven Samurai”, “Yojimbo”, “Rashomon” or “Ran” to name just a few. Though “Ikiru” may be overlooked, it has a powerful message that inspires one to move forward with our work and our influence, no matter how small it may be.

ikiru_poster

The film tells the story of a longtime Tokyo bureaucrat who has lived a life of routine and boredom.

His life is drastically changed when he discovers that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. At first there are waves of shock, fear, sadness and self-pity that overwhelm him. This transitions into an appreciation of life around him. But the last section of the film is that which truly inspired me.

This dying man has the realization that although his time is short he can try to make a difference in his own small way before he passes away. I would encourage you to watch the film if you get a chance. I won’t spoil the story for you, but his work makes an impact in the community and effects his younger co-workers to model his action.

“Ikiru” (which means “To Live”) reminds us that no matter how small our world is, or how restrictive our environment, there is something that we have control or influence over. We must find the strength, the support and hope to take action and make a difference.

 

Survive Without a Smartphone [Podcast]

In this episode of “The Discussion with Kevin Gregg”, Kevin recounts to Jeremy his experience of not using his smartphone for a few days while he was out of town earlier this year.

In this episode you will learn

  • how to set yourself for success while your smartphone is off
  • dealing with the withdrawals of not picking up the phone and unplugging from screen time
  • the benefits that come once you put the smartphone down

 

References in this episode:

Previous article How I Survived the Weekend Without My Smartphone

How to set yourself up for a successful night’s sleep http://www.earlytorise.com/10-3-2-1-0-formula-to-get-more-done/

Deep Work by Cal Newport

The idea of subtracting yourself from social media

Creativity comes through restriction, limitation and simplification

Jeremey tells an awesome story of get down to bare bones of something with drumming with                     Peter Erskine

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.

 

How I Survived the Weekend Without My Smartphone

Unchaining yourself for a bit is a good habit to develop

I decided to put my money where my mouth is.

I left my smartphone behind while I went out of town for the weekend. On purpose.

We had been planning this trip for some time. My wife’s father had recently passed away and the last two months (as well as the last two years leading up to it) had been pretty draining. We needed a chance to rest, refresh, reconnect and recharge.

Smartphone Addiction

http://www.123rf.com/profile_mrhighsky

That wasn’t going to happen if I brought my smartphone along.

I’m like everybody else right now. Checking it constantly, hearing the notifications or feeling the vibrations when an email, text or social media alert came through. This needed to be a special time where I could unplug.

I did cheat by having my wife bring her phone just in case there was an emergency. But here’s what happened…

We had a wonderful time. We stayed at a beautiful home in Joshua Tree, CA. We read, we talked, we connected, we went for walks, drove into town for mass and a meal. Kate even surprised me with art supplies she purchased so we could draw and paint on our trip. Truly a special time.

Here are some things that I learned and felt. Hopefully you can use some of this in your own life and try leaving your smartphone at home.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through it, but I knew I wanted to try it.
I set vacation reminders and autoresponders for my phone and email and let people know in advance that I was not available that weekend.
I turned off all notification software on my tablet for email and social media apps.
I did use the internet, but only briefly. I looked up a biography on a local artist, what time mass was at the local church, and (to satisfy my curiosity) information to find out how satellite internet works in remote areas.

On my first day I discovered, there’s a bit of withdrawal from not having your smartphone. You’re still hanging on to the busy world you’ve walked away from and that bled into some of my conversation. A relative didn’t fully observe the “call in case of emergency rule” but it was a serious enough event that they felt it warranted it. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do to help, and there was not a call for us to return home. I had to make the decision to put the information to the side.

Some of the busyness of the world and the phone call bled over into my dreams that first night. It also spilled over into part of the next morning’s writing and prayer. However, by mid morning of that second day..I was all in. Relaxing, napping, drawing, bonding with my wife.

You don’t want to fall into the trap of “well I’ll just check this email real quick.” You are setting yourself up for trouble. If a work problem arises that is communicated via email, you’re not going to be available to fix the situation.
You won’t be able to get that problem out of your mind during your trip. Or worse, you could start dabbling into work and steal time away from your vacation. It’s not worth it.
Years ago, Kate and I learned that intrusions will try to mess up your vacation time. We made the mistake of turning on the television to discover that a celebrity’s son had died at a young age. The news pulled us right out of our good time and just put a damper on the rest of the trip.
Try to do a “news fast” if you can. If the news is that big and important, someone around you will let you know. Other than that, it can wait.

The other challenge I discovered was having a bit of anxiety as I was traveling home. Had the experiment worked? Would I discover that my phone had blown up with angry voice mails and texts wondering where I was or informing me that I had missed incredible business opportunities?

None of that was the case.
I had missed a few calls, but fortunately, my outgoing message had done the trick. No voice mails and nothing that I couldn’t clean up rather quickly.

I am now looking at how I deal with my phone. Unless you are a doctor, no one is going to die if you don’t pick up the phone. It’s important to set boundaries in your life so that you can focus on the more important aspects of life, your family, friends, your health and well being.

I’m now experimenting with setting hard boundaries each night and once a week on the weekends.
The freedom of not being chained to a phone is pretty exhilarating and I highly recommend you give it a try.
What are you thoughts? Have you ever tried this? If so what were the results? Or if you haven’t what are your fears?
Join the conversation on my Facebook Page and share you feelings about going phone free for a day or weekend.