The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘creative energy

A few weeks ago, I was a guest on the wonderful podcast Black and Read, hosted by Terry Brown. Each week Terry and his guest discuss a work of literature from the unique perspective of a person of color. I talked about my journey to publication, finding your writing mojo, finding a creative process (and sticking with it), and the state of speculative fiction. Plus, I did some old school reminiscing about how Star Wars, and the T.V. shows The Bionic Woman and Lost in Space (the original) shaped my early love of sci-fi. Terry was a great interviewer and the conversation flowed easily. I loved being on the show.

The episode was released this week and you can hear it here.

I’ve appeared on radio and television before, but I am relatively new to appearing as a guest on a podcast. Being featured on a podcast is a fantastic way that authors and creators can share insight into their work. I’m also a huge fan of podcasts, especially those devoted to writing. If a guest is compelling, I’ll look up their work and consider purchasing it.

In thinking about what makes a guest compelling and reviewing own recent performance, I have complied these tips:

-Come Prepared

This sounds obvious, I know. But I can’t tell you the countless times that I’ve listened to a podcast and it’s clear that the guest has never listened to the show and doesn’t know the format. Being prepared means a few things: listening to several episodes prior to appearing on the show and understanding the format of the show (i.e. does the host ask different questions each time or is there a familiar script? Are there special segments to the show?). Also, your preparation should include having your elevator pitch about your creative work ready to go along with some compelling vignettes that reveal your process as a writer, approach to storytelling, etc.

-Give Us the Energy!

You don’t always have control over when you will be interviewed. It may be scheduled during a time of day that’s not your ideal in terms of peak energy. So, if you know you are not a morning person and you are to appear at 8am, then by all means make sure you are well-rested, caffeinated and ready to sound your best. We need you to sound engaged, excited to be there and eager to connect with the host and listeners.

-Know Your Verbal Tics and Work On Them

In listening back to the podcast I used several verbal tics including, “I would say” and “I think”. Everyone has verbal tics, but we should try to minimize them during an interview. Role play with yourself and imagine the kinds of questions you might be asked. Record yourself and notice how you ad lib and may use verbal fillers, like “um”.

-Create an Ideal Environment

You want a quiet environment during the time that you are being recorded. This might mean putting the dogs or cats in another room with treats so that they don’t bother you, working out a schedule with roommates, a significant other, children, etc.

-Tell Us Where To Find You

If listeners get curious about your work, they are going to take a peek at your website and social media. Speak clearly and slowly when telling us where to find you online. I did just that but, I didn’t tell people how to spell my name, so they may find Michelle Burger instead of me. Luckily, in the show notes, the title and cover of my book (which has a funky spelling, so can be hard to find) is listed.

Do you have other tips about being a guest on a podcast? I’d love to hear!


As I shared last week, I went to a SARK workshop. One of the best aspects of the workshop was her reminding us, the participants, to find joy and delight, in support of our creative projects and lives. The great thing about creative energy is that it tends to spill over into other parts of our lives. Indeed, if allowed, creative energy infuses our lives with new problem solving skills and new insights for mapping our everyday lives.
So, I left the workshop on Sunday, happy and inspired. I’m a college professor and this week classes have begun. As I sat down to finish up my syllabus and prepare for the week, it occurred to me that after a decade of teaching, I tend to do some of the same things on ‘the first day of class’. It also occurred to me that I always hand out my syllabi on white paper. Indeed, although I tend to think a great deal about ice-breakers for the class and creative ways to get to know students, I hadn’t ever really thought about how to make the physical appearance of the syllabus more interesting. I was astounded! Me, a writer and creativity coach–not ever thinking about any another color except white for syllabi. Where did I learn this? I’m almost positive that in my many years of schooling, I never received a syllabus on anything but white paper. I would have remembered! It is one of those things that I’m sure no professor even considers. Talk about doing something by rote!
One of my classes this semester is a research inquiry/research methods course. Having taught this class before, I know that students come in with many pre-conceived ideas about how hard it is going to be, or that they lack certain skills, or that it is going to be a painful experience. I always want to shift this perception immediately. Well, I realized that one way to do this was to copy my syllabus on ‘paper of color’. Nothing says fun and creativity than receiving an orange syllabus. So, I went about copying the syllabus on various shades of “paper of color”. I even took the liberty of using different types of color in one syllabus–so some syllabi were all purple, but others had sheets of orange, white and yellow.
I completely delighted myself in this task! I took the syllabi over to the class and handed it out. After introducing myself, I said, “There is good news. This is going to be a fun course. Research is about understanding one’s own passion, curiosity and creativity.” The students loved it and they loved the multicolored syllabi. They too, have never experienced receiving anything but white paper syllabi.
Thinking about why I had always copied my syllabus in a certain way was definitely a spill over from the creative investigating of the workshop. Most often we think that creativity is about particular big projects (finishing the novel, redecorating the house, starting a company). Sometimes it is, but just as often creativity is also about the small, daily ways that we delight ourselves by doing something differently. So, take a few moments and think about the taken-for-granted-tasks that you usually do. Is there a way to infuse more delight or surprise in them?
Do you always write your shopping list on old scrap paper? If so, what about using the inside of a gorgeous card? Or adding stickers? Or putting a favorite quote about food at the top of the list?
What about your answering machine and cellphone outgoing messages? When is the last time that you left a joke, a snippet of a song or a quote? For years, I loved changing my answering machine message. I used it as another creative outlet.
Let the next few days be an investigation in all the small ways that you can delight yourself through small everyday creative expression.

Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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