Stimulate Creativity

by Lance Ekum on · 40 comments

Menu from Mars 01 - Transgenetic
Creative Commons License photo credit: Midnight-digital

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination. ~ Henry David Thoreau

This weekend was a particularly trying time with my children.   We were away from home, and not in our normal setting.  And, this led to some behavior issues with all three of them.  In the process, I ended up taking away any privilege they had to watching television, or playing video games.  This became a powerful lesson – for me.  Not on how to punish a child.  Or what works to correct behavior.

This became a lesson in how to stimulate creativity.  Without television, computers, or video games, I watched as my children found new and creative ways to have fun.

My youngest son got out an old skateboard we have – something that hasn’t been used in at least a year.  And then, he decided to build a ramp for it – all by himself.  In the end I helped him make it sturdy and safe.  But his original prototype ramp was still a great example of creative thinking.

My daughter called a friend she hasn’t had over in probably a year.  They had a blast playing together all afternoon.  And in the process, strengthened a friendship that had begun to wane.

My oldest son played a game with me, and then another with his sister.  When I played with him, we laughed, and even learned a few things from a game that we’d had in our drawer but never played.

This all happened because they changed their routine.  And, by changing their routine, new and creative ideas came to them all.  Their creativity had been stimulated.  In this case, we removed something from their environment that was passive (television), and they replaced it with something engaging the use of their brain.  And they found creative ways to have fun!  All this took was a change in their normal routine.

So, how do you stimulate creativity in your life?  Try changing a routine that you do, and see what kind of creativity this sparks.  Look at all the things you do over the course of a day.  How many of them are routine?  Routine, in that you always do something the same way.  Identify these, and then commit to changing one of these routine things you do.  And see what kind of creativity this sparks!

We are all creative, but sometimes our creativity gets buried in the routines of our life.  Marelisa, over at Abundance Blog,  has written an article on 30 Ways to Increase Your Creativity.  What I have here is one way.  She gives you 30 ways to get that creative spark we all have lit again.  Check it out, and see the many things we can do to get creativity flowing in our life.  It’s an excellent list, and one we can all learn something from.

Using our minds in creative ways, what we imagine can become a powerful way of reinforcing what a life worth living is all about.  Go out and be creative today!  Surprise yourself with what is possible!

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacey September 2, 2008 at 6:12 am

About a month ago I finished reading and working my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – it’s a book about rediscovering your creativity. It was a very powerful 12 week exercise for me, and I have to say it worked! One of the exercises she suggested was to take 1 week and not read anything – nothing. It was challenging, but I realized how much free time I had as a result! I learned, too, that we don’t have to be painters, singers or sculptors to be creative, we are all creative in our own way – and once you find it, life becomes a little more enjoyable.


Dave Fowler September 2, 2008 at 6:43 am

Lance, I missed a golden opportunity when our set top box for the cable broke. We were without TV for over a week. The children played imaginative games and the adults were in bed earlier. (More sleep in case you were wondering)

Why did I let that thing back in my house? Fool!

Dave Fowlers last blog post..A Policeman’s Lot Is Not A Happy One


FitMom September 2, 2008 at 7:23 am

Very good point! My kids are very creative but they don’t really develop an idea completely so then I’m left with ideas all over the house. (4, 2 boys) Ever wondered why toys are never played with as intended? Today we are changing our routine- school is starting for everybody so let’s see what they come up with!

Stacey- I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of Julia Cameron’s books! Need to go back and reread them.

FitMoms last blog post..Some steamed Kale for breakfast?


Writer Dad September 2, 2008 at 8:27 am

I couldn’t agree more. A change in the direction of our thought, makes our synapsis spark.

Writer Dads last blog post..Writer Dad Through the Looking Glass


Vered September 2, 2008 at 11:28 am

This is an interesting idea. I like to think of myself as someone who likes change and new experiences, but I have to admit that over the years, many things have become a routine. I can definitely see how routine can make you stop think and create.

Vereds last blog post..Will You Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself?


workout mommy September 2, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Such a great point! We need to cut back our use of TVs and computers and focus more on reading and imaginative play. (or just quiet! oh, how I miss peace and quiet!!)

workout mommys last blog post..Happy Labor Day! (or Happy September 1st)


chris September 2, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Unexpected challenges can also bring about creativity…I guess it’s our survival instinct.


Wendi Kelly September 2, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Lance, I am a HUGE advocate for turning off the TV. We have it for watching family movies together (DVD’s)

but we don’t even have cable except for the antennae service. we have I think( cause I don’t watch them) the 4 basic channels or something.
We spend a lot of time- even with teens- together as a family as a result.

If it wasn’t so good for family movies, I’d throw that box out the window.

Wendi Kellys last blog post..Collecting Words of Wisdom


Annette September 2, 2008 at 2:28 pm

I have noticed what a difference it makes in everyone’s attitude and creativity when our TV is off. Great post.

Annettes last blog post..HYC Update/Xmas Challenge/Comfort Items


Cath Lawson September 2, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Hi Lance – what a great outcome to a challenging situation. I guess we don’t realise how bad those electronic babysitters are until we remove them. I’m definitely going to try this the next time my kids play up. And as you said, why not try it on ourselves – who knows what we might achieve.


Marelisa September 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Kids are so creative, it’s a shame that passive activities like television watching diminishes that innate creativity. The good thing is, the spark can be relit! Who knew that “punishment” would lead to such an enjoyable day. Thank for the link love 🙂

Marelisas last blog post..15 Brain Hacks – Gym and Spa for Your Brain


Lanceman September 2, 2008 at 4:26 pm

@Stacey – Sounds like a great book! It’s probably quite surprising how much we do something (like read) and not even realize how much time it is taking up. And I love that, we’re all creative, we’re all artists, in our own way!

@Dave – In bed earlier…hmmmm….ok! Yes, when we’re not passively doing something we’re much more likely to use our imagination.

@FitMom – Projects all over the house – sounds like you live in my world! I think it’s fun to invent new ways to use toys, and sometimes to find a new use for the box it came in. School starts here today also, so new routines…

@Writer Dad – Very well said – sometimes all it takes to spark our creativity is a change in direction.

@Vered – Right, I think of myself as open to change and new ideas. But in reality, routine is what typically is the order for the day. And that means creativity may be lacking…

@Workout Mommy – Yes, we need to do that too. My wife and oldest son are very avid readers. The rest of us, not so much. Need to work on that…

@Chris – Yes, unexpected challenges make for creative solutions. So, these types of challenges should be considered good for us (well, sometimes anyway) in that they challenge us to come up with new solutions, and this requires creativity. Great point.

@Wendi – Together time as a family is awesome – what a great way to instill the values you believe in, not the ones presented by tv shows.

@Annette – Yes, I agree completely. Attitude and creativity really are affected by the television being on or off.

@Cath – Right, electronic babysitters – a double-edged sword.

@Marelisa – Right, it can be relit. And it really was great to see how all the kids responded, and creativity just seemed to flow right back to them once they weren’t just sitting on the sofa. Punishment has it’s benefits!


love-ely September 2, 2008 at 4:40 pm

You have a lot of great post which inspired me. I’m feel lucky finding your site. If you have time, please review my thought. You may say i’m a dreamer, but… did me alone?

love-elys last blog post..If One Why Different


Linda Abbit September 2, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Hi Lance,

I think not just by changing our usual routines (I call it “my rut”), but also by changing our environment we spark creativity in ourselves. You mention that you were away from home and that led to behavior issues, but I wasn’t clear if the punishment then happened while away, or once you were back home. the creativity could have also come from being in a different environment.

In any event, I’m glad you could turn a negative into many positives!

I keep thinking about how much I’d like to have a laptop, so I can blog in different places. Sometimes I just go elsewhere and handwrite before I head back to the computer — that works for me.


meleah rebeccah September 2, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Yanno, the ONLY thing I like about punishing my child is that it really does make him do things he normally doesn’t and that he probably should do more of.

meleah rebeccahs last blog post..Re-Cap


Lanceman September 2, 2008 at 9:52 pm

@love-ely – I’m glad you found it as well, and that it inspired you is awesome! It’s what makes writing all worth it.

@Linda – The punishment came while we were away. And that’s part of what probably led to the poor choices in behavior. But it really has turned into a positive. And I like the concept you shared about not only routine but also environment which can spark creativity – very true.

@Meleah – That’s right! If we could only “will” them to do some of those things without having to punish!!


Evelyn Lim September 2, 2008 at 10:00 pm

I like some form of routine but I also try not to pack my kids’ schedules too much. A little space can allow for more spontaneity and fun!

Your kids sure sound like they had a load of fun! But of course! Their dad is a pretty cool guy himself!

Evelyn Lims last blog post..25 Ways To Nurture Your Soul


Rachel September 2, 2008 at 10:06 pm

I’ve enjoyed changing up my routine lately. It’s helped me to find the times of day that I’m more creative, so I can use those times to write and play with my daughter. So much more fun that way.

Rachels last blog post..Avoiding the Laundry Pileup


Barbara Swafford September 3, 2008 at 2:15 am

Hi Lance,

I agree, when we change our routines or routes, we do discover a lot that we’ve been missing out on. Those changes can spark our creativity as well as our imagination. This is a great reminder for anyone who feels they’re stuck in a rut.

Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Charity Starts At Home


Leanne Magraith September 3, 2008 at 5:20 am

In Australia the television is sometimes called the “idiot box” – I don’t know whether you use that term in your part of the world.

I might try some self imposed non TV watching nights in our household. I feel like my creativty could do with a boost.

Leanne Magraiths last blog post..Theory Can Work In Real Life


Lanceman September 3, 2008 at 5:58 am

@Evelyn – That’s a great point – giving them space and time to let things happen. Great way to let them be creative in their own terms. And, thank you for the very kind compliment – I’m blushing!

@Rachel – Change of routine is a great way to be more creative. I’ve heard that now a couple of times here in the comments. I’m going to find a way to change things up for me and see what happens. Thanks for the idea!

@Barbara – Great point, if we’re stuck in a rut, try something different. Doing what we’ve always done will get us what we’ve always got (in this case, back in to the same rut)! I’m going to work on finding ways to do this more often.

@Leanne – Yes, we call it the idiot box sometimes too – and for good reason!!


Stacey / CreateaBalance September 3, 2008 at 8:25 am

A similar situation happened to me when we went camping a few weeks ago. No electronics significantly increased my children’s creativity and they agreed that creative fun was better than watching TV.

For me, any routine eventually makes me crazy. Now I’m beginning to think that the creative force inside of me has been driving my need for change.

Stacey / CreateaBalances last blog post..Sunday’s Strike on Perfection


Mark Salinas September 3, 2008 at 8:58 am

Very inspiring as always…nice picture btw! 🙂

Mark Salinass last blog post..Core Challenge


MizFit September 3, 2008 at 9:37 am

ok now I KNOW the point of the post is stimulating creativity (which, with a 2.5 year old, Im never at a loss for—-her brain amazes me in that the slightest prodding has her off and WHIRLING and creating) but Im gonna pick up on a different line here.

where you said it was a trying weekend.

thank you for your honestly.

for normalizing what so many of us feel and what too often bloggers accidentally never portray.


MizFits last blog post..Viewer Mail (warning. long post ahead. please to grab a protein-rich snack/some water.)


rebecca September 3, 2008 at 11:12 am

it doesn’t sound like a punishment at all! what a wonderful lesson was learned for all. when i was growing up the only video games you could play were the ones that you found at an arcade. and my mother was not a big fan of television so i could only watch it for an hour, maybe two a day, if at all sometimes. this lead to tremendous bouts of creativity and surely honed my analytical skills. in this advanced technological society we have lost the connection to that and i think what you did (although given as a form of punishment at first) was a brilliant idea into getting your kids hone those skills which lay dormant yet are so necessary. thank you for sharing that and since i am now guilty of becoming part of the tech crowd, i think i should cut (wean considerably) myself off and see what wonderful things can come of that!

rebeccas last blog post..Palin, Alaska


Wendi Kelly September 3, 2008 at 12:12 pm


You know we didn’t just chuck the box cold turkey. It started with family Night on fridays then grew to family time on the weekends and then we added formal dinner time in the dining room on week nights and then played games after dinner or did projects together or found we were sitting at the dinner table chatting and laughing until homework annd bedtime. One day we realized the TV hadn’t been on in several weeks and so we made it a family policy because we liked it that way. It’s there if there is a good enough reason for an exception….but that’s pretty hard to come by.

Wendi Kellys last blog post..Changing Colors


Karl - Your Work Happiness Matters September 3, 2008 at 3:02 pm

When I’m able to be my most creative self is when I’m able to let my imgination run free. I’ll pretend I’m spiderman climbing up a building or a sdistant tar out in the gross universe where anything can happen. On my odd days, I’ll get down on my rug and I’ll pretend to be a bomb and explode.

Yes I know this sounds a little weird, but it gets my creative juices going. Then when it’s time to write a blog post the words just start flowing. It works for me.

Karl – Your Work Happiness Matterss last blog post..iPhone 3G is Pushing the Work Happy Now Theme


Lanceman September 3, 2008 at 4:37 pm

@Stacey/CreateaBalance – That’s a good point, sometimes a change of scenery can do it as well (with the help of no electronics). That routine make you crazy, well – I think that’s pretty cool! It means you like to mix it up, and I think that’s a great strategy for life.

@Mark – Thanks, I really liked the picture as well – very creative!!

@MizFit – Your welcome. The truth is, my life is not perfect (by any sense of the imagination). And you’re right, that doesn’t always get portrayed, including by myself. I’m now looking at this angle you went with – as I didn’t even think about it when I wrote it. And, it feels real.

@Rebecca – You may call it brilliant, but when I set the punishment, I was just thinking of what I could take away from them that would make them realize there are consequences to their actions – so I’d call it dumb luck. But, it really worked out so well, and became a great learning lesson for them as well as me.

@Wendi – That’s a pretty cool policy you have, I like it!

@Karl – Hey, I think that’s pretty cool too. We could all stand to act more like a kid once in a while. Sounds like you’ve got this down! Would people look at you funny if they saw you doing this? Yes. But, deep down, I’m guessing most of them would wish they had the guts to do the same thing.


Bobbi September 3, 2008 at 4:53 pm

I am always looking for ways to be super creative, and it so fun working with kids because I get to do it everyday! I think kids bring out the best in me, there always coming up with such fun ideas, and we let them be free and stop putting sooo many ristrictions on their creativity they soar!!! What it would be like to be a kid again!

Bobbis last blog post..Step in to his shoes…


Bamboo Forest September 3, 2008 at 11:23 pm

This is a great testimony to what happens when you unplug the electronics in your life.

And good point about how creativity can get buried as a result of routines. Excellent article!

Bamboo Forests last blog post..7 Sounds That Make You Want to Gouge Your Eyes Out


Robin September 4, 2008 at 1:52 am

Hi Lance – what a great story!

I’m spending a day or two or three a week at my mother’s house in the country, and I find this quite disruptive. To make the most of the situation, I look for ways that the change in routine is helpful – and I think it is. It definitely helps to get me out of a rut.

Had to chuckle that your son made a skateboard ramp and your daughter caught up with a friend!

Robins last blog post..Think And It Shall Be So


Lanceman September 4, 2008 at 4:28 am

@Bobbi – Working with children has to be creative – because they’re so full of wonder! I think we should all act like kids a little more often…

@Bamboo Forest – Yes, routines can sometimes really stifle creativity. All we need is a little change…

@Robin – Even a change that we don’t necessarily feel fits in perfectly can still have positive effects, can’t it! We just have to be open to the possibilities.


Jenny September 4, 2008 at 9:45 am

It’s amazing how such a simple thing, or lack thereof can inspire so much creativity. I think I would be better off keeping the TV off some nights but it’s hard to break a bad habit like that! I’ve been wondering why I can’t seem to get inspired to put up posts, maybe too much TV is why, my brain can’t be creative when I don’t let it.

Great Post!

Jennys last blog post..Holy Macaroni!


Mindful Mimi September 5, 2008 at 3:33 am

Creativity is so imporant and children are naturals at it. I agree that television kills that off as it makes them passive. My kids are still too young (2 years and 8 months) to be really ‘into tv’. And my 2 year old is my greatest source of inspiration. He can make a play out of literally anything. And drawing with him is an adventure. He just flaps the brush onto paper and to him it looks like something. Hence I rediscover my creative brain 🙂

Mindful Mimis last blog post..Why does everything made to keep a house clean have to be so ugly? – Max Kater


Lanceman September 5, 2008 at 7:35 am

@Mindful Mimi – Kids can be so creative, especially if we provide the right environment for them. Our children love to “create” plays also – and they are really quite creative. Sometimes I forget about all the things they do, and how creative they can be. Painting/drawing/acting – your son is really doing well discovering his creative side, and that’s awesome!


Valerie September 6, 2008 at 4:16 pm

My husband and I often talk about what has happened to children’s creativity. We both think that they should get away from television and electronic games and toys to see what they can come up with.

This was a great post to let all of us know that both children and adults need to veer away from daily routines and dust off other parts of our brains.

Nice site, wonderful content.

(found you courtesy of Remarkablogger)

Valeries last blog post..A Caregivers Notes on Managing Dementia


Lanceman September 7, 2008 at 5:52 am

Valerie – Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the “electronics” we have today really have an ability to stifle the creative mind – of kids and adults. It’s good to break away and open our minds and hearts to new possibilities.


Rachel September 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Honestly blogging has been my creative outlet lately. It is the one way I can take my mind off of everything.

Rachels last blog post..China’s Tainted Infant Formula


Lance September 19, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Rachel – Blogging really can be a creative outlet. I find it very powerful in really understanding who “I” am…


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