Friday Feast #31: Fostering Creativity, Standards, Independent Projects
The past few weeks while I’ve been on a break I’ve been thinking about goals and possibilities for the coming year. Creativity is a key ingredient in my life, so part of my recent exploration led me to review my bookmarks and find new resources related to creativity, goals, conceptualizing, and related. It’s been a fascinating adventure, so today’s Friday Feast is dedicated to creativity.
Redesign the W3C’s Homepage
Here’s your chance to use those creative juices to redesign W3C’s homepage—WThremix. As you may know, last month the W3C launched a redesign of their main page. Not surprisingly there has been plenty of discussion and opinion about the new design’s merits and pitfalls. The WThremix contest is a fun opportunity to create an improved approach to W3C’s homepage, and following W3C Recommendations, of course.
There are plenty of websites around to help you learn about creativity and how to improve it in your own life. I’ve listed a few below.
- Cre8ng Articles is a section at Alan Black’s site containing nearly two dozen articles related to creativity—a creative environment, road blocks, out-of-the-box thinking, broken crayons, traits of creative people, and more. Other sections of his site include generating ideas, creativity challenges, and links to more resources.
- Creative Tools and Techniques is a fascinating section about creativity at the Enchanted Mind website. You’ll find articles and tips about creativity and dreaming, focus, triggers, intuition, doodling, using your imagination, puzzles, and lots more.
- PBS Scienceline: Creativity and the Brain section provides links to supplement the PBS series. Links include areas within PBS and elsewhere on the Web.
- CreativityForLife.com is another website devoted to creativity, with articles and tips categorized by workplace, home, toolbox, newsletters, and quotes. You’ll also find recommended books and links to more resources.
- Creativity Web is an entire site devoted to creativity. You’ll find dozens of categorized articles related to creativity—basics, techniques, kick starts, quotations, the brain, idea recording, humor, drawing, visual thinking, and so much more. A wonderful site by Charles Cave.
Creativity and Cross-Training
Just as athletes have discovered the value of cross-training, I also feel that exploring various outlets for creativity can be helpful. Many talented website designers are also musicians, writers, craftsmen, frizbee experts, and, well, the list could go on forever. Even if there aren’t enough hours in the day to explore all that we’re interested in, we can still gain helpful insight and improve our creativity by seeing how different people utilize their creativity. Here are some possibilities:
- Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is the website of author and artist Betty Edward. The site is all about how to improve your creativity by learning how to draw or improve your drawing. By understanding more about creativity, your web design projects may also be more creative, even if you’re not an artist. Check out the sections on theory, the exercises, and anywhere else. Fascinating exploring here.
- Great Thinkers and Visionaries is an interesting site covering many of the well-known creative people, including Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein. By Alexander Chislenko and a collaborative team of contributors.
- The Mirror Project is an independent site devoted to self-portrait photos via mirrors or reflected surfaces. There’s enough inspiration at this site to keep you occupied for months on end. Fascinating, fun.
When the Creative Juices Need a Boost
Ever get stuck? Do you sometimes feel like you just have a mental block that needs a boost? Maybe some of these links can help you out.
- Creative Notions, by Lance Arthur for A List Apart, will make you laugh while also driving home some excellent points and ideas about how to help the creative energy flow. Looking at the world around us, Lance mentions Jeep design and TV commercials, taking a break, brainstorming with someone, dancing, and more.
- Goal Setting Can Empower Your Creativity is a helpful, concise article with insightful tips to help you channel your creativity in powerful ways. By Beverly K. Bachel, CreativityForLife.com.
- Stuck? from the What a Great Idea website offers some helpful tips, questions, and idea-joggers to help you get past your rut, remove any negative thoughts, add some creative stimuli, and more.
Creativity Tools and Software
- Buzan Software - Mindmapping is the website for information about Ygnius Mindmapping, MindManager, and related software for PC, Palm, Pocket PC. Tony Buzan, the pioneer of mind mapping, also has much more at the site related to creativity, memory, thought processes and the mechanisms of thinking, and promoting how to learn and use your brain well.
- EyeWire Creativity Cards can be a terrific boost to getting you out of your rut. Simple reminders can be all we need, and these creativity cards give a gentle nudge to help. Print them out and use them when you need to get out of your rut.
- Inspiration Software, Inc. is the home of the popular Inspiration software designed to help with brainstorming ideas, mapping possibilities, graphical outlining, hyperlinking, storyboarding, diagramming, mind mapping, idea mapping, and more.
- MindMapper Software is easy-to-use and helpful mind mapping software by SimTech USA, based on Tony Buzan’s mind mapping. Brainstorm ideas, map whatever’s on your mind, map a website project, whatever comes to mind. Samples and tutorials available.
Music, Sound, and Creativity
I’ve seen many discussions in web design lists about music to work by, music to help you brainstorm, etc. Whether you’re aware of it or not, music and its very real sound vibrations impact you in some way. By paying attention to how music and various sounds effect you, you can utilize it in powerful ways to help with your creativity.
If you have a creative block, even a five-minute break can work wonders. To help you relax, pick music with a slower beat. A rhythm of 60 beats per minute or less can actually help the heart rate slow to match the music beat, helping bodies and minds relax, even if you’re not aware of that little tip.
Sounds of nature can also help dump the stress. I love the ocean but there isn’t one around the corner, unfortunately. I do have some CDs with nature sounds that include sounds from the ocean, and I can close my eyes and take in the sounds of the waves and the seagulls. Listening with headphones can also eliminate any other noises if needed. Even a 5-minute break can clear my mind enough to help me move forward better with whatever I’m working on.
You may have heard about Don Campbell’s book a few years ago, “The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit.” Campbell helped publicize research on the power of music, especially Mozart’s music and intelligence. Finally research is showing the powerful impact of music. Musicians and music lovers have known that for thousands of years, but others want scientific proof. Campbell has written several books on the subject now, and there are also companion music CDs for them, naturally, including Music For The Mozart Effect, Volume 3, Unlock the Creative Spirit.
The Power of Sound: How to Manage Your Personal Soundscape for a Vital, Productive, and Healthy Life is a fascinating book on the power of music and sound and how to tap into it, written by the well-respected psychoacoustics expert Joshua Leeds.
Many genres of music and an endless possibility of sounds can be helpful with creativity, though. The main thing is to pay attention to how music and sounds impact you. Use that information to intentionally listen to music to help energize you, help you relax, or whatever you need to help your creative energies flow. Also notice what music or sounds you really don’t like, get on your nerves, make you feel irritable, or don’t help, and try to avoid those.
For more information, I wrote an article on using music to help your daily life that includes links to more resources, too.
Just for Fun
Think of a way you can do something creative just for fun this year. Don’t place any expectations on yourself, don’t pass any judgment, and just go with the flow. Pick something you’re interested in and enjoy wherever it takes you.
Part of my own creative fun the past few weeks has been learning how to use my new digital camera. I have much to learn with all its settings and possibilities, but that’s part of the enjoyment for me.
While I took family photos over the holidays, I wanted to also channel my learning into something. So I decided to play around with possibilities for the Mirror Project for starters. It’s a fun exploration of learning about my camera, lighting, and whatever else comes along in the process.
I’m also finding tremendous freedom with a digital format. For example, I can see immediate results and make adjustments and changes as I shoot. And since I can take as many photos as I wish and delete whatever I wish, I feel no constraints about blowing through rolls of film. I didn’t realize how much these seemingly small details have made such a big impact on my willingness to experiment in the past.
WebsiteTips.com’s section, Creativity and Inspiration
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