Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Increase Creativity A-Z - J Is For Joy - How To Put The Joy Back In Your Creative Life Today

So often we realise all too late that the creative ventures we set off on with such excitement, energy and high hopes, have become painful struggles, as we wrestle with all kinds of barriers to our creativity.

At some point, our creative life – and the creative projects we used to take such pleasure and joy from – seems to have deteriorated dramatically.

Where we once heard bouncing playful melodies and luscious full harmonies, there's now just a flat monotone drone.

Before there was a riot of every hue and colour, now there's just various shades of mid-grey.

So what happens? Where does the all the joy go?

And more importantly, how can you start to put the joy back in YOUR creative life?

The most common reasons we start to lose enjoyment and interest in our creative work and projects is because we lose sight of why we began. Or we began for the wrong reasons in the first place.

Every creative project doesn't need to be planned out in every last detail. That doesn't allow for spontaneity and exploration.

But you need to have some idea of WHY you're creating what you're creating.

This may sometimes be specific aims, but can also be just for the fun of it. In fact, this is one of the main problems.

We often have a preconception that any creative work we do, and the creative energy we expend, MUST produce some glorious tangible end product.

We need some visible proof and justification that the time we've spent has been worthwhile.

But not every creative act has such obvious immediate results. Added to this, we're living, evolving human beings. We're not cold predictable machines, where if you put in one plus one you get two.

We're unpredictable, creative, experimental adventurers on voyages of new discovery!

Sometimes the most valuable learning experiences in our creating are when things DON'T produce the expect result. When mistakes are made, it allows the possibility of something other than predictable, safe perfection. It allows for YOUR unique expression of human creativity with all its glorious quirks, bumps and flaws!

Start reclaiming the joy in your creativity today.

Create what you YEARN to create. Create what you were born to create, not what you think you SHOULD be creating, or what other says you should be creating.

Only you know what that is, and only you can take the decision right now to start to reclaim the joy in your creative life.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cryptograms - Code Making And Breaking

Cryptograms are essentially secret codes. They were first used for secret wartime communications. One of the oldest versions recorded was a strip of paper wrapped around a stick. This type of cryptogram was used by the Spartan Army over two thousand years ago.

The paper was wrapped around the stick or staff, edge-to-edge without overlapping, and the message was written vertically. To be read, the paper strip had to be wrapped around a stick of the exact same diameter as the original one used to create the message, so the letters would line up correctly. The receiver knew what diameter stick to use, of course, while any messages intercepted would take some time to be decoded. Even if the enemy knew to use a stick, he had to find one of the right diameter.

Cryptograms are primarily for entertainment now, and are usually created using a simple substitution cipher, in which each letter is replaced by another letter or number. The Caesar Cipher, invented by Julius Caesar, may have been the first of this type. They have been used as simple puzzles for entertainment for over a thousand years now.

Solving a cryptogram is most often done using "frequency analysis," meaning that you look for the coded letters which are most frequent in a message, and then substitute the real letters which occur most often in common usage. In English, the most common letter used is "e," followed by "t" and "a". You also look for one-letter words, since these typically can only be "a" or "i".

Example Of A Cryptogram

A Caesar Cipher is a simple "shift cipher." You simply substitute for each letter another letter that is a fixed number of positions away in the alphabet. For example, if you were to use a "shift" of five letters, the letter "a" would be represented by "f", "b" would be represented by "g", and so on. Here is the complete code:

a=f, b=g, c=h, d=i, e=j, f=k, g=l, h=m, i=n, j=o, k=p, l=q, m=r, n=s, o=t, p=u, q=v, r=w, s=x, t=y, u=z, v=a, w=b, x=c, y=d, z=e

A short coded message:

Ymnx xnruqj rjxxflj nx bwnyyjs zxnsl f Hfjxfw Hnumjw.

Of course, if the code breaker suspects that this cryptogram is a simple shift-cipher, she could start with the the single-letter word "f", which would almost certainly be "a". Counting the five letters from "a" to "f", the code would be broken. The message could be decoded in minutes and read as follows:

"This simple message is written using a Caesar Cipher."

As you can imagine, any cryptogram as simple as this can be easily broken. Since there are only 26 "shifts" possible in English, you could break such a code quickly by trial and error. A computer program could try all 26 in seconds, display the 26 versions, and the viewer (or computer) would immediately recognize which was readable.

This is why simple substitution ciphers, while used for entertaining puzzles, are not used by themselves for truly secret messages. They may be used as a start, however. The Vigenère cipher, for example, uses a shift, but shifts again at different points in a message, the shift value determined by a repeating keyword. Of course there are many other ways to make a cryptogram or secret code more difficult to break.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Increase Creativity A-Z - B Is For Balance – How To Use Your Creativity In ALL Areas Of Your Life

Sometimes a head-down-no-distractions-don't-even-come-up-for-air-for-eight-hours creative marathon can produce fantastic results. We can get deeply into the flow of a creative project, really get our teeth into it and make some wonderful progress.

But if we did this all the time, it wouldn't be so helpful. Or practical. Or sociable.

Unless you live in a shack in the middle of the woods, miles from the nearest living soul and have no financial, family or other commitments, this kind of creative behaviour day after day is just not sustainable.

If the description above describes you exactly and this lifestyle works beautifully for you, that's fantastic! Long may it continue...

But for those of us with the rest of our lives and obligations to fit in around our creative projects (or vice versa), we need an approach that is more realistic and flexible.

And we need balance. Balance between each of the connected elements of our lives that are important to us.

What we often do is separate our creative work - the time and energy we spend on creating in the ways we most enjoy – from everything else in our lives.

This then causes friction, a situation of "My Creative Life" Vs "Everything Else In My Life" and "I'm either creative or not creative." This approach isn't the most beneficial to either your creative work, or all the other important areas of your life.

So what's the solution?

Is there a better way to approach this conflict between creative time and non-creative time, and to achieve a happy balance?

The secret is to realise that as a creative person, this creativity influences your whole life. Being creative is an inherent part of your personality. It's not like a set of dentures which you remove after mealtimes and when you sleep.

Your creativity is there all the time, embedded in you as deeply and indisputably as there is blood running through your veins.

Once you accept this and put it into use, the conflict between creative and non-creative in your life simply won't exist.

The easiest way to do this in practice is just to trust your creativity and ask. Ask yourself "How can I use my creativity in (state an area of your life)?"

Do this for each area of your life, trust that you will come up with plenty of solutions that'll help you and then start putting some of them into use.

To recap, you can use your creativity in all areas of your life to achieve a more balanced and happy life overall.

Recognise that your creativity is ever present and there to help you in any way you need.

You've just got to ask it.

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