Archive for February, 2011

Do Distractions Make You More Creative?

Today, I’d like to point you toward a wonderful article from Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action. He talks about finding the right balance between distraction and focus to support your creativity.

Mark writes:

Regular Lateral Action readers will know I’m a big believer in the power of focus.

When it’s time to produce, it’s time to eliminate distractions – switch off the phone, e-mail, internet etc – and concentrate on the task in hand. Because focused attention is essential for achieving creative flow, the state in which you do your best creative work.

Over the years I’ve advocated various tools and techniques for minimising distractions and heightening your powers of concentration, including meditation, time management, rituals and software applications.

So what do you think I made of a recent article by Jonathan Lehrer in the Wall Street Journal, arguing that people who are easily distracted are more creative and productive than those who find it easy to maintain a laserlike focus?”  To read more, click on this link: Do Distractions Make You More Creative?.


Sandbox Challenge #27: Where Have You Been?

Here’s a fun little 3-part creative exercise* — do one, two or all three parts depending on your time and inclination:


Write the alphabet down the left side of your page. Then list “places” you’ve been in your life (real, literal, metaphorical and imaginative) for each letter. Here are some of mine:

  • B:  Burning the midnight creative fuel
  • C:  Catching fireflies
  • I:  Imagination Island
  • P:  Paris
  • V:  Virginia
  • W:  Wild West Dodge City
  • X:  X-Raying my heart


Choose one of your places and write a haiku about it. Here’s mine:

I dream myself to
Imagination Island
Here I am at peace


Illustrate your haiku in any way that pleases you. (I’ve included my illustration above.)

I’d love to hear some of your places or haikus in the comments!

*Exercise courtesy of Jill Badonsky

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

Honor Your Intuition

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.

We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

~Albert Einstein

Visual Inspiration—Photo Prompt #24

Let this image engage your muse. Write a paragraph, a short story, a poem, a memory, a journal entry…or whatever you feel inspired to create. And share your creations in the comments if you’d like!

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,

Make a Valentine for Your Muse

We like to celebrate our special loved ones on Valentine’s Day, so why not give our muses a little Valentine’s Day love, too? I made this collage and included a Rumi poem as an offering to my Muse for all the inspiration in the last year.

You could also write a poem, a love letter, a couple of sentences, a haiku, a short story or anything else to celebrate your muse.

You could create a happy inspiration dance, paint a picture of your muse, write a celebratory song or take a contemplative walk with your muse by your side.

How will you celebrate your muse this Valentine’s Day?

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

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!

Download a Free E-Book! Click on the Cover Below for your Creative Bursts Workbook

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About Sandy Ackers


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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