December 07, 2012

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I woke up this morning to a lovely surprise in my inbox--the charming Amanda Fanger has nominated me for a very pretty blog award. I'm always very grateful when another writer selects me for an award. Because, think about it. How long does it take you to even *think* of five other blogs off the top of your head--much less select your favorites? So, I'm grateful to have anyone at all recall my blathering with fondness.

But here's the truth about me and awards: while I *love* the setinment, I'm pretty shabby about following through with the 'things about me' and the blog chain, etc. Not because I don't want to share, but because I don't write about me a lot on here. I don't think anyone's sitting on the edge of their seat dying to know my favorite kind of pasta, or what time of day I shower (on shower days, of course).

However, I love the look of this award so much that I decided to take the plunge and share--with a twist. As some of you may know, I spent a decade designing products before picking up the writer's pen(AKA laptop). During that decade, I learned how to think creatively. The Creative Process is not something to be undertaken lightly, or taken for granted--it is every creative person's life-force. A molten core of creativity that lies within us, ready to spew out ideas if we cultivate it.

So, as an Inspired Blogger, I am supposed to list seven things about myself. And I'm going to do just that. Here are seven things I learned as a designer about The Creative Process:

1. GENERATE ALTERNATIVES. There are *always* multiple solutions to a problem. Don't clutch blindly to the first idea that struck you. When drafting, let the words fly. But in revision, examine each choice and all the alternatives before selecting the best path to take.

2. EVERY IDEA HAS MERIT. There are no stupid ideas. Really. In fact, some of the stupidest ideas prompt the best solutions in the end. When drafting, keep ALL of the ideas. Store them in a little pile off to the side, or in your writer's notebook. Don't allow analysis *during* creation. The time for culling ideas comes during revision.

3. WORK BIG TO SMALL. When creating a product, we generally narrow down the manufacturing process before we design said product. Otherwise, there are too many options to consider, and 99% of our sketches will not apply. So, when working on your story, start at the top with the big ideas, and try like hell not to fuss with the words. Don't waste editorial energy on words you may need to throw away.

4. LISTEN TO CRITIQUE. In design we have a saying: Crit Happens. Critique is something that occurs *constantly* in a design setting. In client reviews, in the war rooms, and in quick snippets of conversation at lunch, in the hall, in the bathroom. Why do we crit so much? Because, the collaboration of minds produces the very best idea. And that is the goal: to find the right idea. Let critique help you do that.

5. YOUR IDEAS ARE NOT YOUR BABIES. If ideas were babies, and designers kept every idea they ever thought of, every designer would have millions of children. So when you get upset about cutting something, remember just how many other ideas you have. And drop the ax.

6. DON'T SKIP STEPS. The Creative Process is just that: a process. If you skip a step, your results will stink. Practice your process religiously. And never, ever skip a step. Do the work in revision, no matter how many revisions it takes. I often see the question: am I done revising? If you tap into your process, you will know when it's time for more feedback, or if your feedback has averaged out and you are ready to submit.
(Click to enlarge for a pretty sweet war room panorama)
7. TRUST THE PROCESS. In all of the years of designing stuff from toothbrushes to emergency eye-wash stations, I never once ended up with no ideas. Because The Creative Process works. It's completely normal to have jitters at the onset of a new project. But if you follow your dully-practiced path of creative thinking, you will find solutions. Every time. For every problem, there is at least one answer. For most, there are many. So have faith in the process.

And now, the truly impossible part of blog awards: passing the award on to others. Here, in no particular order, are three bloggers who inspire me very much.

Jessica Vealitzek shares True Stories every Monday, and I hungrily anticipate her posts every week. Jessica's background in journalism shines through in these fascinating glimpses into other people's lives.

Annie McMahon, AKA Dutch Hill News, who has perhaps the best-researched, most-helpful lists about anything MG ever on her website. So many lists are really a bunch of blah when you read through them. But I find something excellent in every one of Annie's lists.

And last but not least, Andrea Hannah, who self-named blog I discovered a few weeks ago via #Pitchwars, and who cracks me up. There's a lot of great info on her blog, but also, well, an inspiring energetic faith in writing that we all need to read about sometimes.


  1. Thanks for tagging me, Melanie! Wow, what a compliment. *blush* I'm glad you find my blog helpful. Yours is pretty awesome too!

  2. Congratulations, Melanie! And thank you for your kind words. I'm looking forward to checking out the other blogs.

  3. "...The Creative Process is not something to be undertaken lightly, or taken for granted--it is every creative person's life-force. A molten core of creativity that lies within us, ready to spew out ideas if we cultivate it..."

    It's little blurbs like this from your blog that inspire me Melanie!

  4. Congratulations, Melanie! Also, this is a great post! Thanks for sharing your expertise on product creation.

  5. Great tips! I found you from Cindy Brown's Everyday Underwear! Are you familiar with Dale Carnegie - I took one of his courses. You inspire and share insights that are very similar! Take care, Lisa

    1. Thanks for letting me know--going to check it out now :)

  6. That's a really neat post! I didn't know you worked in product design before. My current boss actually told me that I should look into doing something like that. Quality control maybe? I need to ask her :)


  7. Very nice post Melanie! Thanks for sharing your creative process! I enjoyed reading it!
    I have been fascinated with the creative process and systems thinking for a long time now. I have been a t-shirt designer and concept visualizer in the past and over the years have begun to respect the creative process and the fact that creativity does not happen in vacuum.
    Different creative people may have different rituals and practices but it seems that different critical elements need to come together and fit in place much like a jigsaw puzzle.

    I also really like the "there are no stupid ideas" from your post. I teach and have to continually remind students to ask questions and that there is no unintelligent question to ask. However, I am beginning to feel that this realization is an experiential one. How I stumbled upon it is from my days of research in science where failure is the norm and minute details matter so much that every question and idea counts. Soon I had to train myself to be all right with "failed" experiments and ask more basic questions and also pursue ideas that seemed too unlikely at the outset. In fact, every failure in science is just an exclusion of a hypothesis and so much closer to the real answer.
    Thanks again!

    1. What a wonderful comment, Harish! I love the discussion of creativity. I particularly enjoy exactly the process you describe--failures function to narrow focus and reveal the true solution. Too often, people penalize themselves for failing, and do not realize that the KNOWING is the success. Knowledge is built from all types of knowing--both what is right, and what is wrong. Following the process is success, regardless of results!

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  9. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should let it grow and share it with the world.> self development books

  10. I really love reading and following your post as I find them extremely informative and interesting. This post is equally informative as well as interesting . Thank you for information you been putting on making your site such an interesting. Creative


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