Creativity, and finding your everyday nugget



The thing about working as a journalist is that you spend lots of time trying to have bright ideas about things to write about. Some of the ideas may not be so bright and are likely to shot down by critical editors with remarks like: “People don’t want to read about stuff like that over their cornflakes/muesli.”

Sometimes the past ideas were about things that I would really like to do: being a millionaire for a day was a good one, it involved persuading a company to lend me a helicopter, complete with pilot so that I could fly around Ireland popping in to the best hotels and restaurants with some exciting contour flying on the way.

The article about emu farming – this was in South Africa – was memorable too, maybe because emus lay dark green eggs, have incredibly bad hair days and are more friendly than ostriches which are liable to kick you if they are males in the mating season. My take home from this is that it’s a good idea to aim do things that you really enjoy doing.

Ideas for articles can turn into potential books, like the one I had titled The Gentle Art of Self- Management. It didn’t get written but it could have turned into one of those How To books which have lots of catchy acronyms which are meant to remind you of the ingredients you need for a happy-ever- after life. The problem is that you – well certainly I – have trouble remembering what the letter in the acronyms stand for.

Nuggets, I decided were a better idea. A nugget is a handy piece tip or advice which might be worth its weight in gold as you prospect life’s hills and valley. You can mine a whole how to book and perhaps find just one nugget worth treasuring. The nugget approach evolved when I was training as a life coach on an assignment to coach young IT entrepreneurs. I know minus nothing about IT but the idea was to facilitate the clients to define and reach their business goals. As well as homework after each session – they each got a nugget – I like to think these tips were useful.

Sometimes other people give you a valuable nugget. I have a friend who was fond of remarking: “I have to have my carrot.” She meant that she needed to have a daily treat, something to look forward to and a reward for getting jobs done. It works like a charm, for me anyway, the carrot doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, a cup of coffee shared , time spent in the garden or a favourite walk.

Do the worst first, was another handy piece of advice, a sure cure for procrastination. The paradox about avoiding doing things is that apparently people who put things on the long finger are more stressed than those who actually tackle the task they would rather avoid. It also required more energy finding reasons to procrastinate, rather than to do the thing, and if you put it off until last you won’t have so much energy left anyhow.

My late mother-in-law – not that you necessarily pay much attention to MIL views – had a good one too and that was to always do the creative things first. I really did follow that one, always writing, painting or whatever first thing in the morning, leaving routine stuff like the housework or doing the washing up until later, the kind of things that are definitely thieves of creative time. To this day I have trained myself not to see dust, generally only getting around to hoovering or dusting by the time it is dark and I really can’t see the grime.

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