Hooked

creativity

I’m hooked by many things. Now, I have a better idea of why I’m hooked after reading the book Hooked. The hooked model gives me the explanations of why I’m hooked by Netflix and Apple tv+. And why I’m hooked blogging here.

The Hooked Model

When I feel bored or uninspired, I turn to Netflix or Apple tv+. My desire for entertainment and inspiration is the internal trigger that causes me to watch endless videos. My friend’s recommendation on what to watch is the external trigger that makes me watch even more. My action of watching streaming videos gives me various rewards like getting inspired by many new perspectives and staying connected with friends. I’m totally hooked.

I want to read and write more (internal trigger) so I blog about books I’ve read (action). I feel happy when I get positive and supportive comments on my blog; and I make new friends with other bloggers (various rewards). So I spend more time and effort to keep blogging (investment). Can you see another hook cycle is happening here?

You can make use of this hook model to create good habits or products. Or try to unhook yourself from bad habits by eliminating any of the key factors: trigger, action, various reward, and investment. I’m trying to unhook myself from my phone by hiding it away. Be aware of what and why you’re hooked.

Happy reading!

Measure what matters

creativity

Do you like goal-setting as much as I do? I understand that not everyone prefers goal-setting. As the future is uncertain, not all goals will go as planned. That’s ok if things don’t turn out as you wish. Just be flexible. On top of that, knowing what matters most to you outweighs everything.

What matters most to you? Your answer will reveal your core values. Let’s say my answer is to stay happy. Based on happiness, I can start to set OKR and stretch goal which are the key concepts from the book Measure What Matters. Google adopts OKR and stretch goal to get things done.

What is OKR?

OKR stands for objectives and key results. Recently, I set OKR with my exercise buddy. Our objective is to reduce waist size by 2 inches within a month. Our key results are doing exercise at least 30 mins and eat clean daily. OKR is like SMART goal. Here’s another OKR example as follows:

Objective: stay happy daily

Key result 1: mediate 20 mins

Key result 2: exercise 30 mins

Key result 3: practice gratitude and optimism

Key result 4: help others

What is stretch goal?

Simply put, stretch goal is the advanced version of OKR. Stretch goal is 10 times more difficult to achieve. It’s a challenging goal set to make you grow and accomplish more. I usually publish a blog post once a month. So it’s challenging for me to do as follows:

Stretch goal: write well and more

Key result 1: write 250 words daily

Key result 2: publish 10 blog posts within a month

What’s most important to you? What OKR and stretch goal will you set? Planning what you wanna do is just the first step to make things happen. After all, your actions determine the final results. Focus and take action today!

Creative doing!

Art Therapy

creativity

In art therapy, creativity is a means of coping with anxiety, depression, and disturbing emotions. Painting is not only a creative process but also an art therapy for famous painters Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo who suffer from chronic illness. Art therapist Bruce Moon thinks art making serves an existential purpose, helping us make sense of a world that seems filled with boredom, dysfunctional relationships, abuse, addiction, and purposelessness.

To know more about the creative process, I read Art Therapy Sourcebook by Cathy Malchiodi and Trust the process by Shaun Mcniff. These two art therapists mention that many aspects of daily life involve personal creativity: arranging flowers in a vase or setting a colorful table. If we approach what we already do on the desk or in the kitchen from the perspective of artistic expression, we’re in the creative process.

Create from home

Create from home is the new norm nowadays, not just work from home. I start by making drinks with different colors to make home life more colorful. Drink red on Monday. Drink orange on Tuesday. Drink yellow on Wednesday. Drink green on Thursday. Drink indigo on Friday. Drink blue on Saturday. Drink violet on Sunday. I can feel a rainbow is radiating inside me after a week!

Rather than try to rid your life of tension, consider doing something more creative with it. – Shaun Mcniff

During the lockdown, I also self-publish a book called Lazy Giver. Setting some time to write daily sounds a tedious commitment but it’s rewarding when I finish it. I feel happy that I have created something I want to do for long. And it’s something that will last forever! Check it out if you’re curious to know more.

My book

What’s more, my family has decided to rearrange the furnitures and reorganise the things we have at home. Now, my home is different in a good way. I’m happy that home looks tidier and more spacious. To me, art therapy could be any forms. And creativity is new ways of doing or seeing things. For more creative insights, check out Zig Zag, Wired to Create, creative and meditation. Do you create from home? Feel free to share with me your version of art therapy and any wonders in ordinary home life. 🙂

Creative doing!

Everybody writes

creativity

Hello, writer. Yes, you!

Are you a blogger, marketer, or content writer? If yes, you might be interested in the writing tips from digital marketing pioneer Ann Handley. Simply put, her book Everybody Writes is the recipe for writing better in the digital world. I find it practical and love the tips and tools such as this title maker.

Pathological empathy makes you write well

I can write well for people like me as I know my needs. Yet, I feel difficult when writing for people who are different from me. Because I’m not naturally empathic, I will have to force myself to get to know other’s habits, needs, and goals. Understanding others takes effort to figure out why they behave and feel that way. Spending time with the target audience is essential to write well.

Find a writing buddy

Finding a writing buddy or a good editor is like finding a life partner. It may be difficult. But, it’s rewarding to have one. I’m still looking for a writing buddy. Let’s connect if you’re looking for one too. How do I self-edit? After developmental editing and line editing, I use an editing tool to make my writing more concise. I will check readability and grammar, and make sure it sounds natural. If you’re interested in great writing tips, check out On Writing, Writing Comedy, and The Element of Style.

Writing is stretching. It feels good to stretch a bit more daily.

zig zag

creativity

How to solve a problem creatively?

We all have problems to solve in our lives. If we see creativity as new ways of problem-solving, how creative are we? We can be creative in a zig-zag way as suggested in the book Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. When I take the zig-zag approach to solve my problems, will the results be different? Here’re the 8 steps (the key zig-zag concept from the book) that I take to improve my core strength. I hope this can help reduce my lower back pain.

ASK

Ask questions no one has thought of before

How to build a habit of exercising 30 mins or more daily? How to exercise and have fun at the same time? How to train my core daily without getting bored? How to keep fit every day? How to maintain an everyday exercise routine? How to build strong core muscles with progress and without spending too much money? How can I keep practicing core exercises for at least a year?

LEARN

Learn from a mentor. Practice deliberately and get a deep understanding.

What I have learned by googling my questions is that core muscles are not just about the abdominals. The core also includes the obliques, glutes and lower back. I have collected a series of core exercises for strengthening the core. I also saved many yoga classes for core strength on Youtube.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 1.40.11 AM.png

LOOK

Look with fresh eyes and mindfulness. The way you look at the world determines how creative you can be.

I see a strong core as my strong motive to exercise daily now. My lower back pain problem becomes an opportunity for me to learn yoga and lead a healthy and zen lifestyle. I feel and listen to my body more closely. With new perspectives, I see life differently. Well-being becomes my top priority. Fitness is a part of my lifestyle.

PLAY

Free your mind to wander and get into a relaxed state.

Play is about doing other things for a while when we get stuck at solving a problem. When I feel exhausted at a challenge, shifting my focus to something else is a great way to get new inspirations.

THINK

The best way to come up with creative ideas is to come up with lots of ideas.

We can generate lots of ideas by setting an idea time and quota. Say, I set 10 mins to think of 10 ideas each day. Idea 1: Pick one sport (i.e. yoga) to practice for a year. Idea 2: Practice different sports quarterly. Idea 3: Form a fitness group to exercise daily together. Idea 4: Have a fitness buddy. Idea 5: Join meetup about fitness. Idea 6: Join the gym. Idea 7: Play video games about fitness (i.e. Ring Fit Adventure). Idea 8: Join a fitness boot camp. Idea 9: Record the daily exercise in a journal. Idea 10: Report daily exercise results to a friend. Idea 11: Focus on doing exercise that can train the core. Idea 12: Have a sporty vacation overseas. Idea 13: Exercise 30 mins every morning on weekdays. Idea 14: Exercise one hour over the weekends. Idea 15: Hire a personal trainer. Idea 16: Follow different videos on youtube to exercise. Idea 17: Play VR sports games Idea 18: Participate in sporty events.

FUSE

If you start with unrelated things, you’re almost guaranteed to be more creative. Get inspiration from nature. Imagine you’re the objects of your challenge. Talk to someone different.

I imagine I am the core muscle. How would I like to grow? I like to have a nice view of nature while training. I want to train with other core muscles to have fun together, too.

CHOOSE

Go for simple, elegant, robust. Even after you’ve selected a great idea, there’s always room for improvement.

For my lower back pain problem, I choose a one-year exercise plan as below. Jan: Yoga class daily; Feb-Apr: Ring Fit Adventure daily; May-Jun: swimming/tennis weekly + core yoga daily; Jul-Oct: surfing overseas/wake surfing weekly + core yoga daily; Nov-Dec: hiking weekly + core yoga daily.

MAKE

I started to execute my one-year exercise plan from Jan 2020. I have practiced yoga for 20 days in Jan. Now I’m having fun with Ring Fit Adventure every day. I’m excited to exercise at least 30 mins daily in a fun way. It’s so fun that I can’t help playing more and more until exhausted. This video game is such a great idea to make people exercise more. I’m loving it and can’t wait to play more! It works for me so well. I hope the rest of the plan will go well, too.

What problems are you trying to solve at the moment? You can try the zig-zag way to see if you can come up with new solutions that work for you.

Creative doing!

Wired to create

creativity

What is creativity?

The book Wired to Create has researched the characteristics of highly creative people throughout history. Creative people are described as messy, playful, passionate, highly sensitive, open to new experiences, daydreaming, intuitive, solo, growing from adversity, mindful, think and act differently. These are interesting facts that we might already know. What I love the most from the book is this formula: Inspiration + hard work = creativity.

How to get inspired?

Life is full of sources of inspiration if we take a close look. Newton gets inspired by an apple dropping from a tree.  Literally, anything or anyone can be an inspiration. The books we’ve read or a stranger we’ve met may change the way we see the world. We can get insights or new perspectives by meeting new people, reading new books, traveling to new places, having new hobbies, eating new food, living in new cities, watching new movies and dramas, listening to new music, studying new topics, learning new sports, writing journals, being alone, solo walking, meditating, having showers… Any life events can be inspirations.

Treat all of life’s meaningful moments – the good and the bad – as potential sources of inspiration and motivation.

How to get hard work done?

Don’t think it’s hard work. We’re doomed to finish it in a hard way if “hard work” is in our minds. Think it’s as an expression of life, an expression of who you are, and the art of living. When we change the attitude, our actions will change too. I used to think work is hard work. When I see work as a practice to master creativity, I’m willing to do it again and again. I used to think yoga is hard work as I have to stretch myself to my limit. Yet, the benefits of stretching hard give me the strength that I can’t resist. So I do it every day.

Create. Again and again and again. Take risks and be prepared to fail.

Creative doing!

on writing

creativity

How to write a story or fiction?

I have read Stephen King’s memoir, which is about the craft of writing. I love it from start to end. It’s like listening to a piece of good music. Melodic, beautiful, and entertaining. I cherry-pick 3 quotes from the book, to sum up On Writing for you to have a quick read.

  • Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex, and work.
  • The practice is invaluable (and should feel good, really not like practice at all) and that honesty is indispensable. Skills in the description, dialogue, and character development all boil down to seeing or hearing clearly and then transcribing what you see or hear with equal clarity (and without using a lot of tiresome, unnecessary adverbs).
  • If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

Show the story: narration, description, and dialogue

I have jotted down the points to note, for you to keep in mind while writing a story. These are the writing tips from Stephen King and his ways of writing fictions.

  • Ask “what if” to build the narrative
  • The good description usually consists of a few well-chosen details that will stand for everything else
  • The use of simile and other figurative language is one of the chief delights
  • You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have resonance and realism
  • The basic rule of vocabulary is to use the first word that comes to your mind if it is appropriate and colorful
  • Use active voice instead of passive voice
  • Avoid adverbs
  • Leave it for at least 6 weeks before editing
  • Check the spellings, unclear pronouns
  • Look for what you meant and reinforce that meaning

Add metaphors or similes like a pro

I enjoy reading Stephen’s unique metaphors or similes, which he is good at using so as to enrich his writing. Here’re some examples:

  • Writers are carpenters; writing skills are tools
  • As your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction
  • I believe stories are found things, like fossils

How do you like it if I show you a metaphor source which you can access online and get many good references? Dr. Mardy has created one for us, for free!

Happy reading!

Comedy writing

creativity

How to write comedy?

If you’re wondering how to write funny or you’re getting stuck on writing, go through the quick summary from Writing Comedy, which may help you break out of the prison in your mind:

Start writing what you want to write, what amuses you. Then learn to modify and improve it to reach a bigger audience.

Get inspired:

  • Work with other people 
  • Stay up to date with popular culture
  • Have an opinion on everything
  • Be a comedy consumer (watch sitcoms, comedy movies)
  • Keep note of funny materials 
  • Anarchy: let yourself be anarchic and childlike, have crazy ideas like “The modest proposal” by Jonathan Swift (a satirical essay suggesting that problem of famine in Ireland could be solved by poor people selling their babies to rich landlords to eat.)
  • Freethinking
  • People watching
  • Daydream
  • Negative emotions like frustrations of everyday life, which are great materials
  • Gather comedy materials from socializing with friends, family, and all sorts of media
  • Networking (find publisher, editor)

Create incongruity:

  • Opposites (funerals and weddings; big and small)
  • Misdirection (a twist in the end)
  • Misunderstanding
  • Exaggeration
  • Double entendre
  • Rule of three

Comedy format:

  1. Set up
  2. Small laughs
  3. Punchline (the surprise)

Create comedy characters: 

  • Deadpan/jester
  • Fish out of water/neurotic
  • Innocent/know-it-all
  • Klutz/loser
  • Social climber/vulgarian
  • What’s the characteristics and desires of characters?
  • Give the character some sort of conflict—inner conflict, conflict with other people and conflict with society
  • Give crisis and obstacles to characters

Write it:

  • Set time aside for writing 
  • Show in a comedic way, don’t tell 
  • Get personal (insults, embarrassment)
  • Use specific vocabulary
  • Don’t be too direct
  • Read your work out loud to feel the rhythm (pause before punchline)

Edit it:

  • Edit the draft
  • Mark the laughs
  • Fine-tune the ending 

 

In short, entertain yourself first, get the joke done, and laugh out loud.

Creative doing!

writing style

creativity

How to craft your writing?

If you would like to craft your writing, reading The Element of Style by William Stunk Jr. and E.b. White is a must. This September, I have been reading books about the craft of writing. I would like to recommend The Elements of Style. This is a good book about grammar rules and the style of writing, even Stephen King has highly recommended it as a good one without bullshit.

I’ll tell you right now that every aspiring writer should read The Elements of Style.

— Stephen King 

Here are some of the suggestions, for helping writers or bloggers to develop their own style:

  • write in a way that comes naturally
  • write with nouns and verbs, not with adjective and adverb
  • revise and rewrite

For more tips on how to craft, check it out and dive in.

The writing style of great writers

Ernest Hemingway’s simple and succinct writing style is the opposite of James Joyce’ complex and stream-of-consciousness writing. Style is like beauty. It’s subjective and has various ways. Writing style is your identity. It’s a part of you. So the takeaway point here is to write what you know and be yourself. That’s what Hemingway and Joyce did.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

BASICS TO CREATIVE

creativity

 

Why I love The Flower Recipe Book

I love this book because of three reasons. One, the recipe concept is cool as arranging flowers is exactly like cooking food. After learning the basics and ingredients, you can get your hands dirty and create your own style. Two, the flower arrangements in the book have a strong aesthetic sense and I can’t take my eyes off it. Three, this is a perfect flower arrangement book for beginners. The content is pretty practical and great for beginners who are looking for the basics and are interested in learning more about various kinds of flowers and primary tools like a pair of decent flower scissors.

How to arrange flowers like a pro

The Flower Recipe Book has inspired me to create my own style of flower arrangement which I have created an Instagram account @plantplaylist to record my works. It was definitely a fun flower project as I can practice selecting flowers and foliage, putting them together in harmony, connecting with friends. I become more sensitive to colors, textures, and forms. The fascinating world of flowers simply amuses my eyes and makes me happy! It’s colorful, beautiful and joyful.

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 11.06.55 PM.pngArrange some flowers with your creativity today.

Creative doing!