By Invitation Only: How Do You Stay Creative?


By Invitation Only is a monthly group posting series, led by Marsha at Splenderosa. You can find today’s other participant posts here.

This month, Marsha and the crew at By Invitation Only have asked a question. How do you stay creative? Truth be told, I am not sure I am creative, but since this is the last time I’ll be participating in BIO, I’ll rely on A Simple Thank You Will Suffice, and proceed.

Let’s ask the question again, and answer without editorial comments. How do you stay creative?

One). First, I observe.




Some people are inventive, and generative. Not me. I’m an observer, a synthesizer. A responder. If I take any good photos it’s because I catch light, or an interaction; all my good writing is deep noticing. Without something to connect to I waver into questions so big that they both shake and freeze me immobile.

Sometimes I travel, so as to have something particularly interesting to observe.

A Small Child Saying Namaste In The Hills Above Darjeeling

Antique Swedish Clock

Ideas are like sparks. You have to be watching to catch them.

Two).  All these moments of watching are interspersed with the mental equivalent of blank stares. Driving is good, as are vistas, walking to work, and decent but not brilliant novels. Oh, and cooking. Activities compelling enough to occupy, but not accelerate, the brain.


Three).  At some point, I will pick a topic of interest, and diagram a trajectory of ideas. I need logic in place, it keeps me safe in the space of passion.


Four).  Then I fool around. With picture-making stuff…


With pictures of myself wearing clothes. But you knew that…


With pretty much anything. This is me asking the seamstress to fool around with my wedding dress. Take out some tulle, make it shorter with uneven layers, move the belt down. Um, a little further. Hmm. Yeah, that’s right. Great. Perfect. I love it.


…and I write lots of bad stuff. Wholly uncreative, pedestrian, plebian, insert your choice of word for Boring-And-Worthless, stuff. Guys, I mean really bad.

Five.) But as the time gets closer, when I will want to say that a piece is done, I sit down on the sofa, look out my window, and set free a carrier pigeon from somewhere in my mind.


A Hail Mary, in football terms. That’s the image the carrier pigeon brought back. I am not responsible. There might be a stadium roar in the background, but I think not. I think it’s silent.


If today describing this process I got pigeons and football, well, sometimes I do better.


I am not really the boss. Despite what images suggest.


Imagine a ruffle of feathers and a brrr brrr brrr of coos. The way pigeons tuck their heads. The way they look like doves.

The last sentence is often the most important, even though it’s fairly rarely read.




All images above are mine, most have been on the blog already. To BIO, thanks for having included me, guys, it’s much appreciated. If you wonder why this is my final contribution – I have only so many pigeons, and given the writing intention I expressed here, I’m probably going to need them all.

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  • You have released many wonderful pigeons over the years I’ve been reading here, and I look forward to many more. It’s been fun to read your response to the external prompt provided by BIO, but I know you have many of your own ideas to nurture into flight. . . .

  • lovely and generous post. a nice “step away from it” and break down the process. thanks for the words.

  • I love this, Lisa. I’ve had many a pigeon do a “fly-over” but none have landed. I think I need to disconnect, pour a cup of tea and just live in the silence awhile to see what lands in my nest. Thanks for an inspiring post!

  • I like this process. I’m more of a content than a process person, and more strategic than creative, so I certainly understand your hesitations…that said, I think everyone has a sense of creativity. It comes from envisioning what one wishes to accomplish. For artistic types, the vision is colorful, musical, or tactile, appealing to the senses. Thoughtful folks, the creativity comes in ideas, words, descriptions or patterns for others to understand or follow. So, you are creative, in a logical, “practice able” fashion!

    And, as an aside, your fashion shots inspire me, and that’s a form of creativity, too.

    7:32 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Gretchen, Interesting.

  • Creative post, Lisa! Beautiful metaphors, honest, graphic……always worth the time to read!

  • By staying professional and getting the job done, accept failure, hit the deadline. Creativity, will hopefully be the by product.

    7:32 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Tabitha, As only a non-nonsense Scot can say;).

  • As a poet, I will say that the last sentence is *always* read. It’s ballast for every word before.

    Thanks for a lovely walk through your creative process.

    7:33 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Drew, Thank you so much for the comment.

  • Set the carrier pigeon free!
    There is a lot to ponder here, glorious pictures and my question is why is this your last BIO post?

    7:33 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Must conserve resources!

  • Observation is key, and then courage.

    “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

    — Sylvia Plath.

  • Writing as “deep noticing.”

    I love the way you put that. And your last lines are poetry.

  • I guess I am an observer as well. Being a designer I am a very visual person and always looking for inspiration all around me. I have a small sketch pad, and my phone to take notes and pictures daily. But when it comes down to actually creating a new piece I have to have my special time in my studio with some fab music and that’s when all the inspirations I have been collecting come together to create new product. I truly love the process….

  • What a lovely post! An eclectic collection of images and spare but evocative words. Brilliant.

  • Wonderful post Lisa. As an artist, I’d like to add that creativity takes discipline and a willingness to experience frustration and failure – often. It’s not often that some brilliant bolt of lightening hits.

    7:34 pm
    Lisa said...

    @kathy, Thank you. I really appreciate hearing from the artist.

  • I also love the reference to “deep noticing”- perfect! And I am also curious as to why this will be the last time that you participate in BIO? As for creativity- we all write our own scripts, deliberately or by default, don’t we? You seem mindful, which is the essence of creativity…and how many of us birth a blog?

  • Creativity does indeed take a wing and a prayer. Thank-you for always sharing your view, in your own inimitable privileged yet humble style.

  • Well said. Keep observing & sharing.

  • Dear Lisa,
    What a beautiful and creative post for our BIO subject this month …. showing just how creative you are !! XXXX

  • I think you are very creative. I often read your posts and admire the way you have thought up ingenious articles about every day matters that have created a very interesting and highly readable brand.

    7:34 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Loretta, I am so happy to be highly readable.

    But I think I’m too all over the place to be a brand.

  • Your last post? Why? That is too bad, this was a fun and thought provoking twist on the word, creativity. Love the pigeon reference.. I will never look at a pigeon the same:)

    Love the snippet we got to see of your beautiful wedding dress! Anything tulle…ahhhhhh

  • Your last BIO post? Damn, damn, damn. I so enjoy your writing style, your thinking style, and the way that you put so much depth and thought into both.

    And as for the last sentence….ah, that is the peak of the mountain to me…the last brushstroke to complete the painting…it’s the very most poignant (and my favourite) part. Treasure the flutter of pigeon wings.

    7:34 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Virginia Blue, Thank you!

  • Your diagrams are amazing! You put so much into your posts, we are blessed to enjoy the fruits of your creativity. Looking out a window helps me pull my thoughts together when I write.

  • Taking deep notice is brilliant. Like those doves, pigeons and seagulls I am setting you free to fly on to your own venture. Whatever it is all of us in the group will support and love you. I think this is the best post ever!

  • Observation … is everything I believe and being an astute observer of life is what sets creativity apart…

    I always enjoy your observations Lisa and … about writing well…

    that’s a difficult one… I know exactly what you men… to conjure a sentence with meaning, definition and some sense of evocativeness is indeed a miracle… xv

  • Nice question, if a bit broad:

    I keep creative by

    not judging my ideas and impulses but taking them as starting points
    learning new techniques in my chosen field
    taking a break when I’m stuck, doing something completely different
    doggedly pursuing a chosen task until breakthrough occurs
    being attentive to whether a routine helps me settle more deeply into my task or starts to deaden my inspiration
    seeking out occasions for playfulness

    Never stated this as plainly …

    7:35 pm
    Lisa said...

    @mademarian, You are not the only one to mention the importance of persistence. I think you are right.

  • I loved this post!

  • Note to self: Remember to read the small print. It is the curse of aging eyes,- I see now that you gave a (tiny little) explanation of why you would not be posting to By Invitation Only. :)

    7:36 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, ;0 teensy weensy;).

    7:57 pm
    Jennifer said...

    It took me several readings, back and forth, catching up, but I think I understand the small print. I admire you, Lisa !

  • Thanks for sharing this post and giving a glimpse into your creativity. You have a great blog!

  • Some of my last sentences are my best too. I know that one accountant friend reads them.

    You know what is worst? When a really tremendous sentence is in the middle, but that’s where it belongs…

    Love the edgy garage door/swingy gray/red shoes photo. Something a little Banksy about the surprise of color (and I mean that in a good way).

  • Lisa, I am glad that I came back to this as I realized that I had so much to think upon after my first reading that I forgot to leave you a note to say…thank you! I am very sorry to read that this is your last BIO post, your razor sharp presence will be deeply missed.
    With all of my Best from Provence,