Updated: Oct 31, 2022

I was walking to my local coffee shop when I saw this guy coming in the other direction. He was medium height, and pretty handsome. He was also my husband, on the way back from dropping our girls at school.

In the split second when I realised the guy coming into focus was my partner, my heart lifted.

I was hit with a thud of gratitude. How lucky am I at how my life has panned out?

When you’ve been married for more than a decade, it’s easy to get lost in domestic drudgery. But thankfully, sometimes all you need is a shift in perspective to remind you why you fell in love.

You could bump into a loved one in the street or sit across from them when you’re out for dinner with friends. In that moment, you see them differently.

Creativity is like that, too.

You might feel like you’re out of ideas or your stories are not interesting enough. That’s simply a sign you need to look at things from a fresh angle.

  • Start by watching a movie
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Taking part in an experience with a group
  • Or having a long conversation with a friend.

Creativity works best as a conversation. We think more clearly when there’s something to push off against.

A word of warning, though. It’s possible to over-saturate your brain with external ideas. When that happens, I find the cure is to go for a long walk in silence and allow time for the creative dust to settle.

Today I’m responding to a question that the fabulous copywriter Anna Rogan is also answering to her email list. 

The question is:

How do you hone your creative instincts and sharpen your storytelling nose?

Step 1:
Input inspiration to your brain (see prompts above).

Step 2:
Notice the stories that engage you. What makes you want to hear more?

Step 3:
Think about the question or tension that lies beneath the story. What’s this story really about?

Here’s an example

On Netflix at the moment is a brilliant series called ‘Trainwreck: Woodstock 99.’ If you haven’t watched it, I recommend you do. It’s the story of how the Woodstock revival festival of ‘99 turned into a disaster.

The blurb says: “Woodstock 1969 promised peace and music, but its ‘99 revival delivered days of rage, riots and real harm. Why did it go so horribly wrong?”

I didn’t read the blurb before I watched the series. I prefer to watch things unfold without knowing what’s coming next.

This is what I took away from the series:

  • How one generation tried to profit from the next with horrible consequences.

  • How quickly civilised behaviour can crumble when people aren’t treated with respect.

  • How the free love of the 1960s developed into rape culture in the 1990s and ultimately to the #MeToo movement today.

  • How gross huge festivals can be and how I’m quite relieved not to be going to one any time soon!

That’s a lot of different ideas.

When you tell a story, you don’t know what people will take from it. That’s ok.

The key is to take the listener on an emotional journey. Set up a tension that they want to see resolved.

Put simply, create a situation where they want to know what happens next.

Your homework (if you choose to do it) is to notice when you get engaged in a story.

By becoming more aware of your emotional landscape, you learn to tune into that of others.