Creativity and Inspiration: Creativity Series (Guest Blog)

I first noticed Allan Douglas on Twitter, he being kind enough to RT (that means re-twit for the twit illiterate….and yes, I know what I wrote) often. Then, this whole Triberr thing happens, and he and I became online co-conspirators of not taking the whole thing all too seriously…which, if you have, I have waterfront property for sale in Brooklyn Heights-cheap!

I have shared Tribal Brownies with him (they ARE darn good) and he has been named head Rock Lobber! (eeee ooooo eeeeee 00000!). Like so many who have answered the creativity call, it’s my  pleasure to host Allan Douglas. He blogs at The Write Stuff and Simple Life Prattle.

The Creativity Series Guest Blog

Creativity and Inspiration: Allan Douglas

Creativity and inspiration are strange commodities.

Both are required by those who are artistic in any sense but, it seems to me, neither can be learned.  Creativity is inborn.  If, for example, someone has a knack for telling stories they can take classes to learn to sculpt language and punctuation, to massage the words into pleasing, colorful phrases, to bring the ideas , characters and places that whirl in their minds to others.  But if they have no visions to describe, they have no story to tell.

Creativity has many faces and will look different when worn by different people.  And creativity is separate from talent.

A person may have extreme talent as a pianist or a singer, but if they can only perform music written by others, they have no creativity.  Some are artistically creative, capable of envisioning things in their head then transforming those visions into real life representations through paint and canvas, sculpting, molding, carving, or manipulating electronic images.

Others express creativity through finding solutions to problems; consultants, mediators, negotiators all look at a situation and find novel ways to solve problems their clients have not been able to solve.  Creativity can also be found in the way people relate to other people.  Teachers have to find ways to keep their students interested in topics that may not hold that much excitement for them.  Yes, creativity comes is many guises.

Inspiration is that moment when something that was not apparent to you before suddenly is.  This can come upon anyone, even the uncreative, and is used to solve problems or reveal a possible path in life that was hidden before.

I have experienced this often.  Generally it will wrench me from a sound sleep in the wee hours of the morning and demand that I rise and give flesh to the wraith-like concept flitting through my mind.  Some of my best writing has been done while semi-conscious… I would awake with words running through my head.  Knowing that they will not let me go back to sleep, I get up, stumble to the computer and hang my hands over the keyboard.  The inspired thoughts then flow from my fingertips through the keyboard and into the computer’s memory, with almost no intervention on my part.

In the morning I go back to read what had been written and am often left wondering who wrote it, for none of it conforms to any previous train of thought in my experience.

Similar things have happened in other facets of my life.  In addition to writing, I have made portions of my living through designing web sites, creating computer programs, and building custom hardwood furniture.  While these things may appear disparate at first glance, they are all quite similar:  To be of any use, they must all be designed to fit the end user, be pleasing to the eye, be sturdy enough to stand up under use and be comprised of components that are each perfectly made and fit intrinsically together into the whole to create the completed piece.

When a problem with a program, web site, piece of furniture, or a balky situation in a book defies solution through brain storming and active problem solving, my best tool is to go do something else and not think about the problem at all.  Once I am happily engaged in something else, the solution will stroll up, tap me on the shoulder and say, “OK, here I am.”

And I am always amazed that I had not seen it before.

I expect you too have encountered the fraternal twins of creativity and inspiration.  Why not share an encounter you’ve had with the rest of us?

Allan Douglas has been an author, writer, and prattler since the 1970’s; published mostly in magazines and newspapers, but has three books to date, more on the way.  He lives on a mountainside in the Cherokee National Forest in East Tennessee with his wonderful wife, a genius border collie and a Prima donna hound dog who is queen of the mountain. He serves as an ordained Elder in his church, is a master woodworker, former custom furniture maker and once dreamt of sailing the world in a Bristol Channel Cutter.  Stories about this and his life as a mountain man wannabe are posted to his Simple Life Prattle blog:  His writers blog The Write Stuff is at

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rick Gualtieri
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 07:39:02

    Agreed with the “born with it or not” thing. It’s the same with anything. Some people have a natural affinity for things electronic. Some people ate born carpenters etc etc.

    That being said I’m not sure I agree that these things can’t be learned or taught. I think they can to a degree. However, the person being taught is going to have to work that much harder than someone with a natural knack for these things. Whether the end result is as good, well that’s for the audience to decide.


    Dec 14, 2011 @ 07:50:50

    very nice.


  3. Marie from Rock The Kasbah
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 08:20:31

    Nice to meet you Allan.


  4. MuMuGB
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 03:44:31

    Nice to meet Allan! I agree that some people are more creative than others but I think that without work & efforts such a talent is often wasted. Talents need to be developed !


  5. zencherry
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 08:59:15

    I like to think that everyone is creative. Those that aren’t at first usually have some sort of societal veil in the way that they fear to pull aside for fear of rejection or humiliation. Maybe even just a knee-jerk reaction on how they think they should be living and thinking. Once we provide an environment that is nonjudgmental, those that were previously thought a-b thinkers find different routes previously unknown to them.
    It is a relaxing of that veil that allows the subconscious creativity to flow. ‘The Zone’ as it were. Many find it near sleep, meditation, some in alcohol, and some when they find their mind on other things like free-writing.
    But of course this is only my opinion though I do tend to cling to it like a boat in choppy waters. 😉


  6. bornstoryteller
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 09:11:50

    We are all creative, but it’s how we see it: if we label creative impulses as only artistic, we all do ourselves a disservice. All of us find creative ways to survive, work, keep relationships going, etc. Disavowing creativity in any thing is just plain silly.

    We live by too fine a definition of certain labels.


  7. Joy
    Dec 19, 2011 @ 17:13:18

    Good to meet you Allan! Writing in a semi-conscious state must be interesting. It has never happened to me (all I jot down are dreams that seem interesting or prophetic) although it would be awesome if I ever experience that!


  8. Trackback: Creativity? Me? « Allan Douglas Allan Douglas
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