B For Building Blocks – Episode 2 of The A to Z of Creativity Series – Transcript
Welcome to Episode 2 of The A to Z of Creativity Series on The Frangipani Creative Podcast. This is a series of 26 episodes – one for each letter of the alphabet – ideas, tips, inspiration, conversations about creativity. I strongly believe that being creative is not a hobby or a calling for a few – it is a way of life – that we are all called to.
Before I go further, you might like to find a paper or pencil to do the exercise at the end of each episode. If you don’t have access to that, don’t worry, you will find a transcript of each episode on my website. I will give you the details at the end of this episode.
Today we’re on the second letter of the alphabet – B. B for Building Blocks.
Many of us are fixated on the idea that creativity means inventing, writing, creating something totally from scratch. And somehow, that’s where we get stuck and start saying, “I’m not creative. Everything I make has been done before,” and we give up on any creative pursuits. There’s something to be said about what’s considered to be a cliché: Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Not everything you make has to be an original prototype. Every new model of car that hits the market is built around the basic and original model created by Carl Benz, who incidentally worked on improving and refining the models created by inventors before him. Yes, that’s right. He used the building blocks that were created already to create a car that worked!
Always looking to create completely new and original components for your creative projects is a waste of time and energy. Your creativity is put to better use if you look at familiar things from a new perspective. For example, you can find at least 25 uses for a newspaper other than for reading the news from! Packing material, a glass cleaner, a shelf liner, a stain protector, a fire starter…. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. There no use trying to create a completely new object/ material when you can creatively use newspaper to get the job done.
If you are musically inclined, you might know that there are certain chord sequences that can be used with different time and frequency, volume and tone to create a variety of music for different moods. The chord sequence is the building block which the composer uses to create a new and unique piece of music.
People who knit will tell you that there are two basic stitches in knitting – knit and purl. Every new pattern is based on the building blocks of these two stitches.
There are only about 7 or 8 basic storyline or plots that exist. I’m not going into details of what they are. Watch a few Disney movies to realise that some basic storylines have been rehashed by them repeatedly. You can’t accuse Disney of not being creative. No, they’ve taken some building blocks and worked on them. Why? Because these storylines work, time and again.
As a trainer, I’ve often used the same story with different audiences to drive home completely different messages and learning.
Let’s examine the familiar story of Cinderella. There are so many perspectives you can look at it from and create stories and messages. There’s the remarriage angle – her father marries again. There’s the step-mother angle. The step-sibling angle. The victim story. The good versus evil story. Or the angle of royalty falling in love with a commoner. Let’s not forget the supernatural perspective – a fairy godmother, mice that turned into horses and a pumpkin that turned into a coach! What if you rewrote the story from the pumpkin’s point of view? Wouldn’t that be creative? A pumpkin that became a coach, drawn by mice that became horses, that took a sad young girl to a royal ball. How exciting for the pumpkin. But then it becomes a pumpkin again and ends up in a soup, quite literally! The possibilities from that one story are endless. The Cinderella story can become the building block from which you can spin endless yarns.
Using what exists as building blocks doesn’t mean that you are stifling your creativity. You are modifying the wheel to become more proficient. Start with a solid base, technique, style and then modify it. By using the existing building blocks you will strike a balance between creativity and efficiency and turn up your proficiency and productivity.
Remember what I said in Episode 1 of this series? You are an artist. Now go and create.
Don’t always try to reinvent the wheel. Get creative and put a new spin on it.
You’ll need a pen/pencil and paper for these.
1. Have you ever watched the improv comedy program “Whose Line Is It Anyway” ? My favorite round was always the “props” round. The host would give the participants seemingly useless objects and they had to come up with creative and ingenious ways to use them. So try this right now. Look around you. I’m sure there are several objects that can be used in more than one way. For example, a ruler. What else could you use it for apart from measuring and drawing lines? Take various objects and make lists of over 10 uses for each.
2. Like the Cinderella story, take a fairy tale or any other story and write a different ending. Or write the story from a totally different point of view. Remember, the pumpkin? Take the story of The Ant and The Caterpillar, for example. Now rewrite it to draw a totally different ‘moral’ than the one story is supposed to convey. I’d love to read your stories. Do send them to me!
You can find the transcript for this podcast on my website The Frangipani Creative – look at the menu bar on top and select – The Frangipani Creative Podcast.
If you have any questions or feedback, you can message me via the contact form on my website.
Bye for now. Talk to you next Wednesday.