Creative Thinking at 2 PM – Avoiding Writer’s Block

Okay, I’m done with meetings. It’s 2:00. Time to BE CREATIVE!  

To be in a creative job requires finding a process that allows creativity to flow naturally, so you can problem-solve efficiently.

Have you ever started generating ideas and tossing them aside at the same time?  It’s very common. In the old days, we called it the writer’s block. Old movies or cartoons show a writer typing a few lines, then rejecting it, crumpling the paper up and tossing it on the floor.

To prevent this problem, it helps to break up the creative process into different phases. I like to think of putting on different hats or roles.

creative-process-2_12_2017First, put on your collector’s hat. Gather sources and information, ideas, and possible solutions to solve the problem at hand. Do not eliminate, filter, or crumble up your paper during this phase.  Just gather everything you find about your project, and write every idea about it that comes to mind. This is a good phase to engage and collect ideas from other people.

Second, review your collection. Now put on your filter hat. Sort the information for relevancy.  At this point, make decisions. Discard some pieces. Keep and expand others.

Third, move into your visual phase. Organize and visualize the solution to the problem. Look for patterns. I go to the whiteboard and start drawing pictures. I use Visio to draw loose flow charts and shapes. I cut up words I’ve written into chunks, and move them around. Now you should identify patterns in your data, the common groupings and solutions.

Fourth, feel it. Relax your mind, review the patterns and decisions you made, and then let your mind bring you to the overall statement or solution over the next day or so. Play some music, feel and connect with the emotion and the answer. In this final quadrant, the creative solution should emerge from your previous work, and you should experience that “ah ha” satisfying connection with the right solution.

Allow times and places in your schedule for each activity. On week days and nights when I’m a bit tired or only have five minutes, collecting ideas  and brainstorming on my mobile device is a good activity.

Many of us have a peak time of the day. Mine is 4 to 6 pm. Your peak time is good for the analytical phases, the second and third steps. When you are in your peak mind, you can easily filter and sort, make decisions, or visualize the data and locate the patterns.  I save this work for that time of day.

The fourth quadrant where I say “ah ha!”is the only one I cannot schedule. I can review the material, but this phase comes to me naturally in my most relaxed state. Creativity is why we all should rest and relax as thought workers. The most creative solutions come to me unexpectedly, like when I’m taking my morning shower or drying my hair. Creativity comes to me when I’m in a quiet part of the house working or sitting alone. Music helps, for example, listening to instrumental music (no vocals) will often trigger ideas.

At first, having bright ideas arrive at odd hours seemed intrusive, but now I’m used to it. I have learned to keep it in check. I pick up my mobile device and record the solution in an note or email to my work self.  Then I go back to whatever I was doing. Inspiration is fleeting, and that note helps me remember those fantastic ideas.

So next time you are trying to be creative at 2 PM, try to go through the process and put on your hats in this order. Hopefully, inspiration will visit you.

Women in Technology: Find Your Mentor and Move Ahead

As women working in technology, the road ahead is not always smooth. It’s like riding a mountain bike on a rough trail. Why take on that project? Why learn that tool? See or download the following SlideShare presentation with tips on finding a mentor to guide your ride.

Link to Find Your Mentor on Slideshare.net

Content by Holly Justice; Graphics by Patrick Coan, Guild of Build.

Find Your Mentor and Move Ahead

Holly Justice: Thoughts on Advancing the Careers of Women in Technology
The road we travel as women working in technology is not always going be a smooth ride. It’s like riding a mountain bike on a rough trail.

Riding the mountain bike trail of technology work.

Graphic by Patrick Coan, Guild of Build

Let’s build our endurance by finding and using mentors along the way!

Continue reading

A Research Paper for the Portfolio

Employers want proof. So you say you are a writer? What have you published?

Most of my professional writing cannot be published on my website. My work is often sold directly by my employers or restricted to inside publication.

If you have that problem too, take a closer look at opportunities to write elsewhere. For example, I write research papers often for college courses.

Today I posted this research paper on the ADDIE and Kirkpatrick training models for my portfolio:

A Training Models study

I wrote this paper for a short cram course entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” based on the popular work of Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Yes, I will “Sharpen the Saw” often. I am a life-long learner.

What do you do to prove what you’ve done? How can you capture and show someone your greatest achievements?

Conquering the Fear of Social Media

What does it take to convince the “forget it” crowd that social media has value?
Do you use Twitter, Facebook or Linked In?
How do you keep your image professional?
How does social media serve you?
Link to Find your Advocate

Creating a Portfolio

Employers want proof. It is not all applications and interviews. When you finally have someone’s attention, job hunting is about what you have done.

Handing someone an entire book won’t work either. You have to scrub it, strip it down and make it digestible. Think short and sweet. A few minutes will be all the time you have to make your point.

Good news! Creating a portfolio does not mean spending a lot of money. I have created everything here with tools I already own or by using free evaluation software. YouTube, WordPress and SlideShare host my content for free. What you will spend is time. It’s worth it.

Today I’m celebrating as I post this portfolio piece. On to the next one!

A technical writing project describing online banking software through flow charts, test scripts and detailed instructions.

What do you do to prove what you’ve done? How can you capture and show someone your greatest achievements?

Conquering the Fear of Social Media – Solve a Problem

Picture for solving problems with social mediaStart by asking what do you need out of social media?

Every social media platform exists to solve a problem. Just like computers are part of our modern world, these tools are the new wrench to turn on rivers of information.
Read more on the next page.