A short collection of powerful creativity terms and my take on their definitions.


In coaching, when the client needs to just get things off his or her chest before starting on a topic. In creativity, when you sit down to write and end up cleaning your desk so you can think. When you are stuck, sometimes it helps to write down the clutter that is preventing you from creating. Then you can get back into flow.


The state of mind during sustained creative output. See The Zone.


An extreme form of resourcefulness where emergencies are solved by just-in-time connections in the subconscious mind.

Journaling (or Morning Pages)

Pages of writing used to clear out whatever is on your mind so you can move on to creative work. Usually done in the morning and collected in a notebook, these pages are never meant to be shown to anyone else. Think free writing, dumping, stream of consciousness. The great creatives do 3 pages every day, 5 days a week. Credit to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Mind Sweep

Also known as a brain dump, Mind Sweep is about gathering up all the little tasks you’ve been mentally keeping track of and getting them out so you can process them. It clears your head so you can work.


What creative people hear when someone says the word “inspiration.”

Ubiquitous Capture

A strategy for capturing ideas from the slow cooker or the sky. The idea is to always have a way to record (or write down) an idea when you have it, so it doesn’t get forgotten. Tools include voice memo recorders, notebooks in every room, pocket-sized notepads, and taking your personal secretary everywhere you go. And, of course, the Hipster PDA (think Ann Lamott’s index cards). Chewing gum wrappers don’t count (see improvisation).


Voices of the Saboteur (sometimes called gremlins) tell you to not take any risks, to play it safe, to stay with the status quo. They remind you of the dangers of both success and failure, and try to keep you from individuality, passion, and powerful creativity. You may hear them anytime, but they most often surface when you are getting ready to do something creative, powerful, and fulfilling. Learn to deal with them so they don’t prevent you from really shining a big light in the world.

Slow Cooker

The part of the brain (located in the back next to names of dead poets and former baseball players) that passively works on problem solving while you are actively doing something else. Also known as the crock pot of the mind. For best results, give it something (like a problem) to work on and take a walk or a shower and prepare for ubiquitous capture.

The Sky

The place where ideas fall from when actively working on something (contrast with slow cooker). Usually there is a connection to the topic at hand, but sometimes it’s hard to nail down. In the interest of improving your creative output, it’s often useful to note both the idea and its connection to the topic at hand. You must “put yourself out there” to get hit by something falling from the sky (see perspiration).

The Zone

The place you are in when experiencing flow.

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