I’m a teacher. I teach high school English Language Arts to twelfth graders, and I absolutely love it. I’m also a creative. I write stories. In fact, one of my ongoing stories is posted here on Medium. My students recently had to share their goals for the future and they challenged me to share mine as well, so I told them that my goal was to see my name at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. I like to aim high :)
A few months ago, I decided to bring my love of teaching and my love for creativity together when I started my blog The Whisper Project. The Whisper Project started as a way for me to build a platform for my own writing, but it soon became something else: a way for me to share about my writing journey as it’s happening and encourage other writers and creatives at the same time.
The Whisper Project started out small, like a whisper, and though its growth has been gradual up to this point, I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to see others reading my work and sharing it. I hope to be a bestselling author someday, but I would also love to encourage others on their journey to creative success as well.
This is the interesting dynamic of being a creative, at least for me and I suspect for others: Sometimes you get to create and sometimes you get to empower others to create.
Being a creative catalyst means that your ability to create is extended out by helping others to create. My students are just a few months from embarking on a new chapter of their lives. I tell them frequently that they’re creating their own future, and I want to help them create a good one.
If you’re going to be a creative catalyst, here are some tips for doing it well.
1. Never Stop Creating
Though you can’t create every minute of every day, you should take every opportunity you can to create.
It’s hard to encourage other creators when you’re not in the trenches of the creative process yourself.
I teach English Language Arts, which involves a lot of writing, but I don’t encourage my students to write without letting them know that I’m always writing myself and even letting them see some of the things I’m creating.
A creative catalyst should, first and foremost, be a creator. This is what gives you the credibility to encourage others in their creative journeys.
2. Inspire Creative Thinking
A creative catalyst should spark creative thinking because creative thinking is the only thing that will get someone looking at the world in a different way and see problems that need to be solved or ways that life could be made more enjoyable. This often means asking questions and getting people to think outside the box.
The key here is to encourage lateral thinking, to get people trying to think of ways to solve problems that aren’t obvious or predictable. This naturally leads to creativity.
Sometimes we need people to ask the questions that we aren’t aware need to be asked. As creative catalysts, we have to keep our eyes open and ask the questions that creatives should be asking but aren’t.
3. Encourage Creative Action
Creative thinking is great, but if it never leads to actual creation, it’s just procrastination. It’s a constant spinning of your wheels.
Creative thinking is important, but we need to encourage people and practice ourselves the art of taking creative thinking and fleshing it out in the real world.
This might look really messy. Creation is rarely a clean process where everything comes out perfect the first time. If I write a story, I assume the first draft is going to be horrible or, at the very least, need some tweaking. It’s the same way with any other type of creative work.
Encourage people to keep a notebook to write down their creative ideas and then set aside some time to actually choose a few of those ideas and put them into practice. We can’t be creative catalysts if the people we’re encouraging aren’t actually creating.
I started The Whisper Project with the hopes of giving myself and others a voice. If you haven’t checked out The Whisper Project, I’d love for you to visit. It’s directed primarily to writers in all genres and mediums, but it’s also about general creativity as well.
If you enjoy staying right here on Medium, that’s cool too.
In that case, I’d love to start a conversation on the role of the creative catalyst. Do you see yourself in that role? What does it look like for you? Are there creative catalysts who empower your own journey? What qualities do they have that you think are important?
Tom Farr is a blogger, storyteller, and screenwriter who teaches English Language Arts to high school students. He loves creating and spending time with his wife and three children. He blogs regularly about writing and storytelling at The Whisper Project.