Vicki Bennett: Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

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“People often tell me they aren’t creative. As if creativity is some lofty practice.”

Vicki is corporate trainer, documentary maker, and the author of 30 best-selling books. However, her writing career wasn’t always a sure thing.

She fell upon writing in 1982 at a conference in San Francisco and a whirlwind of professional speakers, like Zig Ziegler, Go Mandino, and Jim Rohn, where positive mental attitude was the currency of the day. “With 20 other international speakers, I was invited to a welcome talk with the keynote speakers of the conference,” she told us, “In a lift on the way to the 24th floor, I found myself alone with Og Mandigo, author of The Greatest Salesman in the World. He asked me where I was from, and once we got over the ‘Oh, you’re from Australia, not Austria’ conversation, he asked me where I was heading.”

“It turned out we were going to the same meeting, and I had to pinch myself to see if it was real. After the session, Og Mandigo asked me to dinner and our amazing friendship began. His first comment to me after ordering our entrée was, ‘Do you have a book?’

‘Oh,’ I said, ‘Was I meant to bring a book?’

‘No, have you written a book?’

‘No,’ I said rather weakly.

‘Well you have to write a book,’ he said, ‘As a professional speaker, you’ve got to have a product.”

So, on the 23-hour flight home, she weaved 10 of her speeches together and created Programme to Succeed and kicked of her writing career. From there, she found a literary agent and shaped her next three books, I’ve Found the Keys, Now Where’s the Car?, I’ve Read the Rules, Now How Do I Play the Game?, and a children’s book, Making Dreams Come True. “I worked with Philippa Sandell, a publishing editor at Hodder and Stoughton publishers,” she told us, “After a grilling and lengthy editorial process with I’ve Found the Keys, Now Where’s the Car?, I asked her, ‘How did you know I could actually write this?’

‘I didn’t,’ was her sanguine reply, ‘we just loved the title!”

With books published in several genres, Vicki says she’s still learning to write and describes it being something compulsive and compelling, in her blood, and a form of therapy.

We asked Vicki to give us some of her best tips on igniting the creativity we all house inside of us.

On the creativity within us

Are there some people that are creative and some that aren’t? Or is creativity within all of us? It’s a frequent question. “If you are a problem-solver, you’re already highly creative,” Vicki says, “Every time you come up with a new idea or solution to a problem, the creative process is activated.”

We are all creative in some way.

VICKI’S Best Tips for Igniting Creativity and the Creative Spirit

Like many of us, Vicki always has multiple projects happening simultaneously. “Often I have a deadline for a project, and that governs my priorities for that day,” she told us, “But I also choose one that doesn’t have a deadline to play with as well.”

Work in increments.Instead of trying to power through all of your work in one sitting, which can be incredibly daunting and overwhelming, Vicki suggests working in 90-minute increments. “When the time is up, I will stop,” she says, “Even if I’m not finished. I’ll quickly capture any outstanding ideas on the computer, save, and then close the file. Then I’ll come back to it in the next 90-minute segment.”

After your work segment is over, do something that takes you away from work and/or your project. Vicki suggests playing with your pets, taking a walk, doing a quick stretch, or play a quick game on your phone. The break in your work will reboot your mind and relax.

Consider different perspectives. Sometimes we have a one-track mind when it comes to our own work. When we have an idea, that’s the only idea and if it doesn’t work out, then we just aren’t good enough or creative enough. But that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes we just need to take a look at our project from a new perspective.

When writing, Vicki told us she often looks to Google, books, other work when she’s stuck. Recently she turned to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic for inspiration and came across the sentence: “The usual rules do not apply.” She created a document and made a list of ideas that fit into this concept including:

● When I think about an idea I’d like to write about, I ask myself: If the opposite were true, what would the story be?

● Children don’t have the usual rules, I ask my grandsons for ideas and they tell me about bombs and nuclear waste, and all sorts of amazing things. I jot these down too.

● I talk to a friend who doesn’t think rules apply to them, asking them what works for them and what doesn’t.

● Usual rules don’t apply when I travel; all certainties are left at home. What’s the difference? Kindness; I’m usually more open and kind when I travel.

When it comes to igniting your creative spirit, you have to do it on your terms, but don’t be afraid if you are stuck. It’s part of the process.