Friday, June 22, 2012

Creativity: The Key to Writing Success by K.Ford.K

Today's guest post touches on a topic close to my heart: creativity! Enjoy!

Ten years ago, when I was first asked to teach creativity to children, I wasn’t sure that creativity could be taught.  I racked my brain for bits and pieces of my daily life that had brought me that rarest gift of all: inspiration.   If I was going to teach creativity, I had to believe that the inspiration for creativity was not just stumbled upon by chance, it could also be cultivated on purpose. 

Tigers and Tennis Shoes

I had always believed that creativity was born when two things that don’t belong together are put together.  I called this the juxtaposition of unlike things.  Creativity was making connections that no one else had thought of.   So I made lists of odd pairs and gave them to a group of children with the instruction to write a story.  (I also reminded them that a story must have a problem that will be resolved by the end)  The one example that sticks out in my mind was Tigers and Tennis Shoes.  This unusual juxtaposition brought about several very good stories and my students discovered what good writers they really were.

Imagination Tea Parties

With an even younger group of children, I planned what I liked to call ‘Imagination Tea Parties’.  The children dressed up in costume and came to tea with their parents on the edge of a small wooded area.  I began the story for them and as we walked through the forest, they invented the rest of the story on their own.  I gave them a few prompts now and then but for the most part, they had so many ideas that they shouted out all at once.  I was almost deaf by the end of the party.  And the children discovered their inner storyteller.  

Creativity Likes an Open Mind

 Adults may have to work a little harder to be that creative.  My advice for writers is to jot down the things that have given you inspiration in the past and try to use them again.  Travel is one of my favorite methods for finding inspiration.  Immerse yourself in a foreign culture and language.  When problems arise, pay attention.  It’s the worst things that happen to us that make the best stories.  If you can’t afford to travel, watch foreign films, eat exotic foods, talk to people who have a completely different outlook on life and culture.  Creativity likes an open mind.  Sometimes inspiration comes from a single out-of-place word, a delicious color, a bright scent, a visible sound.   Reading philosophy works for me because it forces me see the world in a different way.   Learn something new.  Experience something new.  Sometimes creativity comes from being uncomfortable. 

Creativity Likes Silence

It’s also important to travel within.   Clear your mind.  Let your mind fill from the deep well of the unconscious instead of the distracting bustle of life on the outside.  Creativity likes silence.  Creativity likes to be heard. 

If you find a way to cultivate creativity, you will find writing success.  I don’t know if monetary success will follow right away but I do know that you will be successful in creating something new and exciting - something that is uniquely you.  And that sounds like a pretty important success to me.   

Check out The Concugine's Gift by K.Ford K.
Author Bio for K. Ford K.

I became a storyteller by accident. It all began in Mexico where I attended university and where I learned to accept the supernatural as a normal part of life. From the revered opinions of the local witch, to the preparation of meals for dead grandmothers, I learned to see the world through different eyes and I came to understand that things are not always what they seem.
Later, on my way to attend a university in France, I traveled to Morocco. I stopped at a marketplace in Marrakesh and while eating my lunch of dates and oranges, I watched a tattered beggar transform himself into a storyteller. He moved with the practiced gestures and fantastic expressions of his trade, surrounded by a growing circle of people who listened to him with eyes wide open, their own lives forgotten. In another culture, at another time he might have been a rich man, but here he was selling beautiful tales for coins in the dusty marketplace. I longed to be like him, this mendicant from Marrakesh.
Years later, I moved to Tokyo to teach and write articles for The Tokyo Weekender Magazine. Every day I traveled the crowded trains, sharing space and breath with millions of strangers.
There amid the crushing humanity, I watched the surreal combinations of east and west in language and life, the painful and beautiful growth that occurs when two cultures collide. I witnessed two public suicides, and felt firsthand not only the temporality of life but also the beauty of a single moment.
The time spent crushed between strangers, doors and windows of the train became a quiet meditative place where I learned to accept life and death. There on that Tokyo train, I began to write novels in my head, while that tattered beggar from Marrakesh, who had captivated me years before, whispered in my ear like a nagging dead man, “Tell me a story.”


  1. What a rich background you've had! Great thoughts on creativity. I love the phrase "Mendicant from Marrakesh"! It would make a great title.

    1. Thanks Kaye! I'm writing a book on creativity. Maybe that should be the title!

  2. Great advice! I wish I could travel, but I can't afford it. But I do a lot of walking around the city and I carry my journal with me; I always write down weird/interesting things that I see or hear. And that always makes me want to keep writing.
    I have to work on clearing my mind, though. I'm always obsessing over something, so it'll be difficult to just stop and relax for a moment.

  3. I applaud your efforts to relax and not allow the outside world to interfere with your creative mind! We all have a right to a full creative life. The day-to-day errands and worries can really cut into that. Live your creative life to the fullest! Happy writing

  4. K. Ford K.

    Thanks so much for joining us on All Things! Great topic!

  5. Thank you, Mary Ann! I'm just happy I found your blog. Enjoyed it.