A Cup of Creativi-tea

Terri Wilson is a solo librarian at the law firm of Underwood, Wilson, Berry, Stein, and Johnson, PC in Amarillo, Texas. She has a BFA in Theatre from Eastern New Mexico University, an MFA in Theatre from Texas Tech University, and an MS in Library & Information Science from the University of North Texas. Prior to becoming a law librarian, Terri was a paraprofessional for six years in the reference department of the University Library at Texas Tech. And prior to that, she explored a cornucopia of employment positions while a laboring as a struggling actor (emphasis on the struggling part). Terri has recently started a blog for creative ideas for librarians at http://www.creativeinfopro.com/blog/.

Does it seem like we librarians are being asked to go to the well of creativity more and more every day? Start a newsletter, create a website, promote services, host an open house, make signage. The list never seems to end. It takes a wealth of ideas to keep all of this marketing and designing going. To keep it going in new and innovative ways takes creativity.

I can already hear the collective groan out there. All of you who think you aren't creative if you can't play the piano like Chopin or paint like Rembrandt. Banish those thoughts right now! EVERY human being is creative. It is in our nature. It is hard-coded into our DNA. But just as every human being is different so is every expression of creativity. Sure, a lot of people paint or play a musical instrument or write poetry, but creativity can also be found in baking bread, tending the garden, building cabinets, or perfecting your golf swing. If you can find your personal creative outlet, you are well on your way to tapping a wonderful resource for personal and professional productivity.

So where to begin? Contrary to popular belief, creativity isn't always there, just ripe for the picking. When you're stressed or overworked, when you've eked out every last idea in your head for some big project, your creativity can wane, if not disappear altogether. But with a little attention, the well can be refilled easily enough.

The first thing that most of us need to do right off the bat is de-stress on a regular basis. Before you can even think about being creative, you need to institute a "brain dump" and lose all of those nagging thoughts about work projects and household to-do lists. Take a walk, go to the gym, listen to some music, watch the sun rise, go to a movie, but take some alone time for yourself. It would be great if you could do this every day, but once a week would help tremendously. But here's the catch: You have to do it without the cell phone on, without the Blackberry on, without your spouse or your best friend tagging along with you. Be alone. Wind down. Take some time out for "me."

Here are a few more simple and inexpensive suggestions for de-stressing activities:

  • Visit a museum.
  • Visit an art gallery.
  • Go to the park
  • Attend a concert.
  • Go see a guest speaker at a local college.
  • Jog around the block with your dog.
  • Sit outside for lunch
  • Browse a used bookstore

Participating in something like the above on a regular basis will do wonders for your mind. Once you get those electrons firing in a more calm and relaxed manner, you will find that creativity is not such an impossible goal after all.

So how do we start refilling that creativity well? Easy! Creativity begets creativity. Say what? If you want to be more creative, you need to participate in more creative activities. It seems ridiculously simple, but it's true. How creative do you think you can be if all you do is read budget reports or circulation statistics? If you want to be creative, get creative. Again, set aside a time once a week (more, if you can) to participate in your creative activity of choice.

Here are some suggestions for creative things to do:

  • Take a class at a hobby store.
  • Buy a paint by numbers set.
  • Color in a coloring book.
  • Put together a jigsaw puzzle
  • Put together a model car or plane.
  • Play with clay.
  • Bake some bread.
  • Go shopping.
  • Play the same games your kids play.

Maybe this all seems too silly or simplistic to be worthy of today's working professional, but the truth is the more you explore your creative side, the easier ideas will come for you. If you take the time and care to fill your creative well, creativity will be there when you need it.