Posts Tagged 'Inspiration'

10 Resolutions for a Creative New Year


I’ve posted this before, but these are still my creativity resolutions, for this and every year. I hope some—or all—of them resonate with you! What are your creativity resolutions for this year?

  1. Do something creatively inspiring every day, even if only for 5 minutes.
  2. Forgive yourself if you miss a day—and then get right back on the creativity horse.
  3. Cultivate an attitude of play when you’re writing, painting, singing or creating in any way.
  4. Let go of your inner perfectionist.
  5. Don’t blow off your muse, even if he/she starts tugging on your arm at an inopportune time.
  6. Share your creativity with people who appreciate it.
  7. Don’t listen to people who discourage you (including your inner critic).
  8. Believe you deserve to take time for your creativity, in spite of all the demands in your life.
  9. Enjoy the creative journey instead of focusing only on the destination.
  10. Realize that every time you make space in your life for creativity—even if it’s just a sliver of space—you’re making yourself a better person and the world a better place.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
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Blast Through Writers Block: Create a Sensory Collage


Here’s a good exercise to try if you’re stuck, blocked or ready to start a new piece but don’t know what to write:

Take a walk, and bring a notebook. Jot down things you see, hear, smell, feel, touch and experience. Use all your senses.

Include everything:

  • bits of conversation—not just the words but also the tone of the language and the postures of the speakers
  • neighborhood signs—their messages and their visual style
  • changing cloud formations and the things they bring to mind for you
  • the exact color of the sky
  • a crying or laughing baby—how it sounds and how it makes you feel
  • the scent, texture and color of blooming flowers
  • dogs checking each other out or chasing squirrels
  • traffic—the sound, smell and look of it
  • the sights, sounds and smells of trees you encounter
  • the color and texture of the hair of anyone you pass
  • the items people are holding or carrying

These are just a few ideas—be sure to include everything that catches your attention. And pay attention to everything around you as you walk.

Then find a place to sit such as a park bench, cafe, picnic table, the ground, your car … whatever works for you.

Now combine several of the sensory images you’ve gathered and use them to create a story, essay, poem or any other piece of writing. Play around with the images and try different things, just as you would if you were making a collage. If one combination doesn’t work, try something else. Write something silly or dark or absurd or uncharacteristic of you. Have fun as you fit the puzzle pieces together in different ways.

I like this exercise because it combines the physical activity of walking with the mental and emotional experience of collecting bits of what you experience. It gets you away from staring at a blank piece of paper. And combining things in new ways always engages the muse.

Let me know how you like this exercise, or share your creations!

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Get Creative With This Random Art Prompt Generator

colorful mask

If you’re looking for some artistic inspiration, this Random Art Prompt Generator might be just what you need! You can choose either a simple or an elaborate prompt, and they’re pretty creative. These are for all types of artists. If you want a writing prompt, the simple prompts will work, and sometimes the elaborate ones will as well.  (But some of the elaborate prompts are more focused on visual art.)

Here are some of the random prompts I got when I played around with this:

SIMPLE:

  • Your prompt is: a scar on the face.
  • Your prompt is: unicorns.
  • Your prompt is: a harem.
  • Your prompt is: a medieval society.
  • Your prompt is: dissonance.

ELABORATE:

  • Within one piece, express the qualities of deviousness, greed, and dignity. Subjects need not be human.
  • Create a realistic portrait of a cartoon character. Prompt: the forests of the night.
  • Do a series of pictures of a traveler, experimenting with changing the light and shadows. Theme: and all things sweet.
  • Theme: mask. It should contain opium dreams or a black leather trenchcoat, and use primarily complementary colors.
  • Portray a sense of weariness with a leather jacket and worn blue jeans.

Click here to try it out and get creative!

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

 

Be Present and Embrace Your Creativity

“You must live in the present,

launch yourself on every wave,

find your eternity in each moment.”

~Henry David Thoreau

 

10 Types of Muses—Which One is Yours?

Rays of Light

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my muse. Or muses. I wrote about my muse a few years ago, but he/she has changed since then. (Even my muse’s gender changes regularly!) At that time, I needed a muse who was forceful and would get me out of bed to write early in the morning. Who was, as I wrote, “a cross between a take-no-prisoners drill sergeant and a thoroughly enticing lover.”

But my muse has changed over the years. More recently, my muse has segued into a whimsical child who tugs on my sleeve and whispers in my ear. (Or yells, if I’m not listening!) And sometimes she’s simply a light breeze that carries inspirational tidbits to me. But still, I occasionally call on my drill sergeant muse when I need a little creative kick in the butt.

So I started thinking about the different personalities of my muses over the years, and I came up with this list. For me, my muse is like a divine artistic guide crossed with an imaginary friend. But with a chameleon personality that becomes what I need.

Does your muse have one of these personalities? Or is s/he a cross between two or three of these? How would you describe your muse? I’d love to hear about him/her!

  1. A take-no-prisoners drill sergeant.
  2. A thoroughly enticing lover.
  3. A mischievous buddy.
  4. A loyal comrade-in-arms.
  5. A whimsical child who tugs on my sleeve.
  6. Whispers on a warm breeze.
  7. A hyperactive pest.
  8. A free-spirited wild woman.
  9. A temperamental diva.
  10. A grounded, wise old oak tree who speaks to me.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Creativity Roundup

photo by Emlyn Addison

Once again, I’d like to share some inspiring posts I’ve read lately about creativity, writing and life:

Daily Rituals. In this fascinating piece, Mason Currey talks about how famous writers, artists and other creative people find time each day to do their work. This is the first installment of a 3-week series on Slate, so you might want to keep checking back.

Nine of the Best Ways to Boost Creative Thinking. Gregory Ciotti offers up some great ideas to help you become more creative. (from Lifehacker)

25 Insights on Becoming a Better Writer. A host of writers — including PD James, Zadie Smith, Kurt Vonnegut, Haruki Murakami, Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, and many others – offer a range of tips on improving your writing. (by Jocelyn K. Glei on Daily Good)

Stained Glass Window Exercise. A fun and simple creative project from Nature Coach Michelle Hedgecock. This one got my creative juices flowing!

Kids, Creative Blocks, and Adult Creativity and 10 More Ways to be Creative Like a Kid. In these two pieces, Mike Brown discusses amusing ways to keep your creative inner child satisfied. His thesis: “One way for adults to attack creative blocks or improve creativity in general is to revert to doing what kids – who are often at the creative pinnacles of their lives – do naturally.”

6 Techniques to Ignite Your Inner Creativity and Passion. Ronald Alexander discusses ways to open up to your core creativity in this inspiring article from The Huffington Post.

I hope you enjoy these wonderful creative tidbits as much as I did!


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Embrace Creative Joy

joy

Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish,

focus on 

how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing.

~Leo Babauto


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

10 Inspiring TED Talks on Creativity

creative sparks

Quick post today to direct you to this wonderful collection of talks on creativity: TED’s Creative Spark Playlist.

I haven’t watched all of these, but the ones I’ve seen have been fantastic. The 10 included talks are:

  • Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius
  • David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence
  • Janet Echelman: Taking imagination seriously
  • Stefon Harris: There are no mistakes on the bandstand
  • Tim Brown: Tales of creativity and play
  • Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?
  • Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity
  • Isaac Mizrahi on fashion and creativity
  • John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal
  • Kirby Ferguson: Embrace the remix

So, if you need a little inspiration, check out one (or all) of these wildly creative thinkers as they share their perspectives on creativity.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Valentine’s Day Special: How Love Inspires Creativity

*In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m rerunning this popular post.

It may seem obvious that feelings of love go hand-in-hand with heightened creativity. Artists of every type have created masterpieces motivated by love: paintings, plays, songs, sculpture. I’ve certainly written my share of love-inspired essays, fictional scenes and other pieces. Starting with some very bad poetry at the age of 15 when the boy I was smitten with moved on.

But when psychologists decided to study this connection, they found both that love inspires creativity and that lust inspires analytical thinking. Two different studies prompted students to think of either romantic or sexual situations. Afterwards, the subjects who’d been thinking of sex performed better on logic problems, while the students reflecting on love were best at solving problems requiring creativity.

The researchers concluded that love causes people to think about long-term goals, which involves taking an imaginative leap. This enhances holistic thinking and creativity. Lust, on the other hand, inspires dedication to more short term pursuits, thereby heightening analytical ability.

I can’t sum up this blog post any better than this Pacific Standard article about the research did: “This explains the relative paucity of Odes to a One-Night Stand.”

Except to say if you’re feeling creatively blocked, why not kiss someone you love? Or, as researchers had subjects do in one of the studies, imagine taking a long walk with your beloved. It just might set your muse on fire.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

10 Resolutions for a Creative New Year

  1. Do something creatively inspiring every day, even if only for 5 minutes.
  2. Forgive yourself if you miss a day—and then get right back on the creativity horse.
  3. Cultivate an attitude of play when you’re writing, painting, singing or creating in any way.
  4. Let go of your inner perfectionist.
  5. Don’t blow off your muse, even if he/she starts tugging on your arm at an inopportune time.
  6. Share your creativity with people who appreciate it.
  7. Don’t listen to people who discourage you (including your inner critic).
  8. Believe you deserve to take time for your creativity, in spite of all the demands in your life.
  9. Enjoy the creative journey instead of focusing only on the destination.
  10. Realize that every time you make space in your life for creativity—even if it’s just a sliver of space—you’re making yourself a better person and the world a better place.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Create the Life You Want to Live

Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity.

It’s your place in the world; it’s your life.

Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.

~Mae Jemison,
engineer, physician, astronaut, and first African-American woman to travel in space


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Embrace Your Dreams

If you hear a voice within you say,

“You cannot paint,”

then by all means paint,

and that voice will be silenced.

~Vincent van Gogh


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Valentine’s Day Special: How Love Inspires Creativity*

It may seem obvious that feelings of love go hand-in-hand with heightened creativity. Artists of every type have created masterpieces motivated by love: paintings, plays, songs, sculpture. I’ve certainly written my share of love-inspired essays, fictional scenes and other pieces. Starting with some very bad poetry at the age of 15 when the boy I was smitten with moved on.

But when psychologists decided to study this connection, they found both that love inspires creativity and that lust inspires analytical thinking. Two different studies prompted students to think of either romantic or sexual situations. Afterwards, the subjects who’d been thinking of sex performed better on logic problems, while the students reflecting on love were best at solving problems requiring creativity.

The researchers concluded that love causes people to think about long-term goals, which involves taking an imaginative leap. This enhances holistic thinking and creativity. Lust, on the other hand, inspires dedication to more short term pursuits, thereby heightening analytical ability.

I can’t sum up this blog post any better than this Miller-McCune article about the research did: “This explains the relative paucity of Odes to a One-Night Stand.”

Except to say if you’re feeling creatively blocked, why not kiss someone you love? Or, as researchers had subjects do in one of the studies, imagine taking a long walk with your beloved. It just might set your muse on fire.

*In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m rerunning this popular post from September.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Dozens of Ideas for Finding Creative Inspiration

Today I’m pointing you toward an excellent article in which artists of all types share how they connect with their creativity. I find it inspiring to hear how other people get creative — I hope you do, too!

Click here to read the article. And if you have any muse-inspiring ideas that work for you, be sure to share them in the comments!


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

10 Resolutions for a Creative New Year

  1. Do something creatively inspiring every day, even if only for 5 minutes.
  2. Forgive yourself if you miss a day—and then get right back on the creativity horse.
  3. Cultivate an attitude of play when you’re writing, painting, singing or creating in any way.
  4. Let go of your inner perfectionist.
  5. Don’t blow off your muse, even if he/she starts tugging on your arm at an inopportune time.
  6. Share your creativity with people who appreciate it.
  7. Don’t listen to people who discourage you (including your inner critic).
  8. Believe you deserve to take time for your creativity, in spite of all the demands in your life.
  9. Enjoy the creative journey instead of focusing only on the destination.
  10. Realize that every time you make space in your life for creativity—even if it’s just a sliver of space—you’re making yourself a better person and the world a better place.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

20 Ideas to Inspire Your Imagination

Today I’m pointing you toward an excellent article compiling 20 ideas from “creativity connoisseurs” for inspiring your muse. They discuss everything from practicing “creative grazing” to exploring different mediums to subtracting “serenity stealers” from your life.

Click here to read this inspiring article. And if you have any muse-inspiring ideas that work for you, be sure to share them in the comments!


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

Embrace Your Dreams

Miracles start to happen

when you give as much energy to your dreams

as you do to your fears.

~Richard Wilkins


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)

10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Writing When You’re Feeling Uninspired

(I’m busy fighting dragons, so I’m reposting an old favorite today.)

  1. Take a break and do something else for a while before returning to writing.
  2. Freewrite until new ideas start flowing.
  3. Take a shower or bath—muses are known to be particularly inspirational during bathtime! And here are some products so you don’t have to run dripping for a pen and paper.
  4. Just keep writing, and see if you make a breakthrough.
  5. Work on a different writing project.
  6. Take a walk. Turn off your brain and experience the world through your senses.
  7. Do something else creative for a while, like drawing, singing, making a collage or playing with clay.
  8. Meditate or do a creative visualization—try this one if you’re dealing with a persistent inner critic.
  9. Read a book. Let someone else’s words flow over you.
  10. Write something silly or just plain bad. Don’t judge yourself. Sometimes if you start writing, no matter how uninspired you feel, your muse eventually shows up and sprinkles a little magic on the page.

How do you break through those uninspired moments? Share your creative coping methods in the comments.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
To learn more, click here!

Create Every Day!

I love this wonderful story about a man who painted 365 paintings in 365 days! During the year of this project, he fell in love, experienced the break-up of that relationship, had a serious biking accident, endured months of recovery and learned a friend had cancer. He also discovered that painting helped him deal with these challenges.

When asked how he managed to create a complete painting every day, he said:

I slept less and less. I found time to paint in the morning before work. 10 minutes here; ten minutes there. I became good at just painting whenever I could with whatever free time I had. I would bring my paints with me wherever I went even when it was just a dinner party. Because people understood my 365 day project they were accepting in the fact that I had to paint. I became very good at not making a mess with my paints so I would be allowed in people’s homes.

Check out the article, which includes some of his paintings and the stories behind them!

And for more inspiration, read my previous posts about Jonathan Mann’s year of writing a song every day here and here.

STOP STRANGLING YOUR MUSE!
I’ll help you slay your Perfectionism Dragon,
Herd your Inner Critics into a soundproof room,
Send your Procrastination Monster whimpering back to his cave,
And defuse all your creative blocks.

To schedule a free 30-minute telephone creativity coaching session with me, or for more information, click here.

Creativity Roundup #9

Once again, I’d like to share some inspiring posts about creativity, writing and life I’ve read lately:

The 5% Creativity Challenge. Josh Linkner suggests upping your creativity by scheduling 5% of your work week to reflect, think and create in this inspiring blog post.

How to Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me). Writer and artist Austin Kleon offers 10 great pieces of advice about creating. My favorite is “Don’t wait until you know who you are to make things.”

30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity. Joel Falconer provides some wonderful ideas for rekindling your creative mojo.

The Unleashed Mind: Why Creative People Are Eccentric. Shelley Carson discusses research linking creativity with unconventional behavior and thought patterns in this fascinating article from Scientific American.

How to Steal Back Time to Create What Matters. Dan Goodwin offers a new way of thinking about making time for your creativity in this inspiring blog post.

7 Ways to Cultivate Your Creativity.  This slide show from Ingrid Wickelgren at Scientific American considers seven “brainsets” that facilitate original thinking and offers creative exercises to help you cultivate these states of mind.

I hope you enjoy these wonderful creative tidbits as much as I did!

Obvious to You. Amazing to Others.

I enjoyed this inspirational video by Derek Sivers about embracing the unique quality of our own creative ideas. I hope you’ll like it, too!

Create the Life You Want to Live

Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity.

It’s your place in the world; it’s your life.

Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.

~Mae Jemison,
engineer, physician, astronaut, and first African-American woman to travel in space

Want More Creativity? Turn Your Day Upside Down


I’m on vacation for a few days, so I’m offering one of my most popular posts:

If you’re worried you’re not living up to your creative potential, it’s easy to find articles and books on managing your time, setting goals and being more productive. But so much of this helpful advice just doesn’t work when it comes to creativity. It can make you feel tight and uncompromising. It can make your muse pack up her bags and fly away until you allow her more space.

So here’s my advice for turning some of the common productivity wisdom on its head. Try it and see if it makes your muse smile:

  • Write a Not To Do List. Include items like “Don’t check e-mail before I start writing,” “Don’t vacuum until I’ve spent half an hour painting” and “Don’t listen to that voice inside my head telling me I’m being selfish for creating instead of _______.”
  • Let Time Manage You. Instead of making a schedule with blocks of time for each of your day’s activities, simply let the day unfold. This can be difficult if you feel like time is a beast to be tamed and molded to your will. (Believe me, I know. I struggle with this one.) But if you can let go of your schedule even for a little while, you may be amazed at the results. Yes, there are certain scheduled things you must attend to, like going to work and picking up your kid from soccer. But you can findor makesome unscheduled moments in your days and weeks if you really look for them. Make a point of letting go of unessential activities and letting yourself do whatever feels right in the moment at those times.
  • Be Unproductive. Forget about producing a finished story or song or painting. Think of your creativity as play instead of goal-oriented work. Toss unexpected words together. Combine notes in ways that don’t make sense. Paint something silly. Surprise yourself. If it doesn’t work, you’ve learned something about what doesn’t work. It if does work, you may have just produced a masterpiece.
  • Don’t Create a Perfect Space for Doing Your Artistic Work. This one goes against advice I constantly see for writers and other creative people. There’s nothing wrong with having a nice place to write/compose/sculpt/sketch. But you shouldn’t be wedded to that spot. You should be able to pick up a crayon and scrap of paper wherever you are and create something new. Paint at a park. Write while sitting in a waiting room. Compose a song in your head during your commute. Having only one spot where you can create places a severe and unnecessary limitation on your muse (who really just wants to create everywhere, all the time).
  • Watch TV. Another perennial piece of wisdom from both time management gurus and creativity proponents is to completely cut out watching television. It’s a time suck, it stifles creativity and it’s just bad, according to these  people. Yes, if you plop down in front of the TV for four hours every night and turn into a mental zombie, that’s not very healthy. If you only watch uninspiring sitcoms and formulaic movies, you’re not helping your creativity. But blanket comments condemning TV really rub me the wrong way.  I’ve found so much inspiration on television over the years. From documentaries that introduced me to other worlds and ideas. From movies that grabbed my emotions and made me think about things or events in a new way. And yes, even from cleverly written sitcoms that included characters or situations that jumpstarted my creativity. People who believe TV = bad just aren’t thinking creatively enough. And, like the Internet, social networks, video games and anything else that can turn into an addictive pursuit, you need to use it in a way that enhances your life and your creativity rather than as a crutch to avoid life.

Do you have any creative techniques you use that turn conventional wisdom on its head? I’d love to hear about them and add them to this list.

Valentine’s Day Special: How Love Inspires Creativity*

It may seem obvious that feelings of love go hand-in-hand with heightened creativity. Artists of every type have created masterpieces motivated by love: paintings, plays, songs, sculpture. I’ve certainly written my share of love-inspired essays, fictional scenes and other pieces. Starting with some very bad poetry at the age of 15 when the boy I was smitten with moved on.

But when psychologists decided to study this connection, they found both that love inspires creativity and that lust inspires analytical thinking. Two different studies prompted students to think of either romantic or sexual situations. Afterwards, the subjects who’d been thinking of sex performed better on logic problems, while the students reflecting on love were best at solving problems requiring creativity.

The researchers concluded that love causes people to think about long-term goals, which involves taking an imaginative leap. This enhances holistic thinking and creativity. Lust, on the other hand, inspires dedication to more short term pursuits, thereby heightening analytical ability.

I can’t sum up this blog post any better than this Miller-McCune article about the research did: “This explains the relative paucity of Odes to a One-Night Stand.”

Except to say if you’re feeling creatively blocked, why not kiss someone you love? Or, as researchers had subjects do in one of the studies, imagine taking a long walk with your beloved. It just might set your muse on fire.


*In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m rerunning this popular post.

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

Inspiring Creativity—Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests

Check out the amazing creations of kinetic sculptor and artist Theo Jansen. These giant beach animals move independently along the shore.

Be sure to watch to the 45-second point, when the creatures start walking down the beach. I’m always impressed by the many wonderful ways people find to express their creativity!


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About Sandy Ackers

Sandy

Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

To learn more about Sandy, click here: About Sandy

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Click here to read the post discussing my relationship with my somewhat pesky male muse.

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