Five Tips To Instantly Improve Creative Output


Creativity is an elusive thing. For most people, it doesn’t just happen. Although, I am a firm believer that every one of us has enormous creative potential (check out my post on “Kidminnovation”), there are definitely times when creativity just doesn’t seem to flow.

If you find yourself struggling in your creative realm, try these tips:

1) Start “scratching”

Twyla Tharp, author of The Creative Habit, talks about the act of scratching. She writes, “You know how you scratch away at a lottery ticket to see if you’ve won? That’s what I’m doing when I begin a piece. I’m digging through everything to find something. It’s like clawing at a side of a mountain to get a toehold, a grip, some sort of traction to keep moving upward and onward.” Scratching can be as simple as just typing/writing whatever comes to your mind, or maybe you just turn on your favorite jam and let your mind start to wander. Whatever it takes to get your creativity flowing.

2) Unplug

So many people try to sit down and create, then are drawn away by email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Creative minds are inherently easily distracted, so is it any wonder you can’t get any creative output done when you have all these things becking for your attention. I know it goes against our society’s value system, but seriously – you won’t die if you totally unplug from the internet for a couple of hours. Let your spouse or boss know that you are turning your phone off for two hours. You will be surprised just how much you will get done.

3) Turn off your “internal editor”

Writers are the worst at this. We tend to be rocking along, then we start to overthink what we are writing. Suddenly, we backspace over and over and delete great content. Then, we can’t seem to continue because we can’t decide whether we should have actually deleted that content or not. TURN OFF your internal editor and just CREATE. There will be plenty of time to edit later. For now, let your creativity fly. Create now, edit later.

4) Picture your audience

This goes beyond just deciding who your audience is in general (“I am writing this lesson for a group of 5th and 6th graders). Instead, picture in your mind a face of THE 6th grader you are writing this for. What problems are they struggling with? What is their family life? What are their dreams? As you write and create, make sure everything you write and create will minister directly to that person in your mind.

5) Keep the rhythm

So many creatives think that if they will just sit down for six to eight hours with no distractions, then they can produce some of their best work. Not true. Our bodies follow what are known as ultradian rhythms – ninety-minute periods at the end of which we reach the limits of our capacity to work at the highest level. There’s no amount of coffee, Red Bull, or “5 Hour Energy” that will overcome it.

Your best bet is to take a 10-20 minute break after every 90 minutes of Creative Output. Take a walk, go talk to a friend down the hall, practice shooting paper wads into the trash can – WHATEVER! Do anything EXCEPT the creative project you were working on. I know, it goes against your belief that “if only I keep on hammering away at it, I will finish the project!” In truth, you may finish the project, but it will be sub par work compared to what it could be if you took a break.

So, there you have it. Five quick tips to instantly improve your creative output. Which one(s) do you think you can put to use this week? Leave a comment and share with us any of your own creative output boosters!

Three “Creativity Killers”


Creativity is a MUST in Kids Ministry.  It takes creativity to capture attention and illuminate the gospel to a young mind that is bombarded with flashy, glitzy attention-grabbers all day from a world whose message is less than spiritually healthy.

We all want to be more creative, but we often fall prey to one or more of the three CREATIVITY KILLERS in ministry…

1)     PROCRASTINATION

There’s an epidemic of procrastination in Kids Ministry.  I can’t believe how many times I hear people saying that they don’t even begin to start their preparation for Sunday until Saturday Night.

Nothing will kill your ability to be creative like procrastination.

YOU CAN DO IT!  Work ahead!  Prepare.  Make time for creative thinking.  Get alone with God and pray.  Allow the Spirit to inspire you NOW for what He wants to do down the road!  It is THE most important part of the creative process.

2)  DUPLICATION

This phenomenon happens quite often in the church world.  We go to a conference, attend a seminar, watch a YouTube video, or read a blog as someone shares a great concept or strategy.  We think, “What an amazing idea!”  Then we run straight back to our church and try to duplicate it.

We hear reports of what God is doing in the church down the street or the “hot church” in our denomination, and we try to chase their ideas instead of asking God for His ideas.  We do this for a lot of reasons:

  • Duplication is easier

When we opt for duplication, we avoid the tough work of seeking God for a vision and strategy to grow our ministry.  It’s a lot easier to steal someone else’s “good idea” than invest time seeking a “God idea.”

  • Duplication is faster

It doesn’t take any time at all to get plenty of cool ideas from church leaders in every kind of ministry.  Type the words “Children’s Ministry growth ideas” on your browser, and you’ll get over 19 million hits.  There are books upon books and conferences upon conferences that provide a ton of great ideas.

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with books and conferences.  I’m a firm believer in attending conferences, networking with other ministries, and reading great books. However, books and conferences can easily become a substitute for seeking God and trusting Him for guidance and creativity.

You see, duplication may be easier and faster, but the problem is…

  • Duplication rarely produces eternal results

Jesus told His followers, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).  What do we “seek first”?   Is it conferences, books, message boards, and ministry networks, and then do we go to God only when all those things begin to lose their punch? Instead, we should begin on our knees, seeking for His idea that will change our lives and ministry.

3)  DISQUALIFICATION

Some immediately disqualify themselves and say, “I can’t do it!  I’m just not wired that way!”  They allow themselves to believe the six word lie that I despise.  Here are the six words – “I’m just not a creative person.” 

Many Kidmin Leaders sell themselves short when it comes to their ability to think creatively and innovate.  They have decided that God only gifted a few key leaders to be able to create and innovate.  We have turned the innovative process into some mysterious, spooky, hokus pokus type of activity.

Listen – YOU were BORN for creativity and innovation!  Somehow, we allowed society to suppress our creative juices and we began to be conformed to the mainstream.  We are afraid of getting outside the box.  We allow fear to dominate our minds and hearts and we never become the Kidminnovators God wants us to be!

We serve a Creative God with limitless creative ability!  Even the most naturally innovative and creative minds are finite.  The term finite means “having bounds or limits; not infinite; measurable.”  But God is infinite.  He is “far above all,” not limited by any boundaries at all.  When we draw only on our own creative resources, it’s like drinking from a thimble instead of the Great Lakes.

I believe the time is coming when every Kidmin Leader will believe in God (and themselves) enough to be able to tap into the creative innovator that lives in each of them.  When that happens, we will change the world!!

Another “Time Change Sunday” Parody – “Call Me, Maybe!”

So many of you watched our other “Time Change Sunday” Parody Video (“On Time Style” and asked, “Do you have more?” Well, yes we do! Here is a great parody of the big hit, “Call Me, Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. This one stars our Preschool Coordinator, who apparently broke her alarm clock and wants you to “Call Me, Wake Me!” so she isn’t late for church on Time Change Sunday! Enjoy!

Becoming A “Kidminnovator”

I was privileged to be invited to speak at INCM‘s CM Leaders Conference this past September.  My topic was “Kidminnovation:  Unleashing Creativity in Kids Ministry.”  For those of you who were unable to attend or watch it on their LIVEstream, here it is:

After you watch the video, please share your thoughts in the comments section.  Thanks!