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That Creative Spark Within

January 25, 2020

Another Way for week of January 24, 2020

That Creative Spark Within

[Editor’s note: Third in a ten-part series on physical, mental, relational, and spiritual health. #Kashi]

Do you remember arguing or fighting over who got to read which cereal box as a kid? (And kudos to those parents who keep the TV or other screens off during meals or morning routines.)

I was amused and gladdened recently when our visiting grandson, Owen, eagerly grabbed for my cereal box of “Kashi Honey Almond Flax Crunch” (I know, quite a long name). The box on its edge has a large print list of great invigorating words I’m using for this series of columns. Spark is our word this week. Owen is only three, so he cannot read but certainly recognizes letters. I think he was studying this box because of the letters he knew.

One of the most frequent questions I have been asked as a columnist over the years is “Where do you get your ideas of what to write about?” Teachers and writing instructors sometimes give word prompts to start students’ minds churning and perhaps unclog a writer’s block. That list of action words on the cereal box serves as a source of helpful prompts or thought starters. A spark.

In general, anything that stirs my interest or strikes me as an interesting thought or statement, or an incident that happens—whether good or bad—can serve as an idea or prompt for my writing. And yes, staying fresh and finding new ideas is sometimes hard—especially when you’ve been at it at least 50 years (counting my upper high school years when we did a lot of writing).

A former pastor said she liked planning sermon series for her summer messages because pastors, like columnists, sometimes scrounge for topics. Many pastors use the Common Lectionary of scripture passages as a guide to their subjects. Of course, a single scripture or verse can point one in multiple directions for an actual sermon focus, so again, sometimes a structure or series is healthy for the weekly anxiety of “what shall I write (or speak) about this week?” Anything that sparks a direction is a gift.

How does that apply to those who are not pastors or writers? How is your imagination sparked to tackle a new direction?

Grandpa and grandsons, “creatively” putting together a wooden racing car (kit).

My husband is not a writer or pastor (and he would laugh and shake his head at that comment), but he is very creative and likes to make stuff. He does welding, wood working, minor construction, improvising, fixing up jigs or ways to approach something that make the outcome easier. Especially now that he has some mobility issues that make it hard to get up from the floor (as in the garage), he’s frequently inspired to build props or rolling carts or use an old-fashioned fulcrum to lift a heavy item. If he gets stuck trying to solve a given problem or next step, he has to ruminate on it for a while. Eventually sparks fly and an idea is conceived. The point is, sparks of creativity hit us all—or they should—whether we’re trying a new recipe, painting a picture, composing a song, dealing with a child’s problem, or a difficult customer. You get the idea.

A spark is like an epiphany that hits your brain and probably literally lights it up, according to those who study such things. God gave us our brains and the ability to imagine solutions or responses to the dilemmas that face us. I think of Michelangelo’s painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome. The painting shows the creator of the universe reaching out to give life to the first human. A spark!

If words are your thing, think of James Weldon Johnson’s memorable and moving poem about creation you may have memorized back in high school, like I did. “And God stepped out on space, and he looked around and said, “I’m lonely, I’ll make me a world.” A spark!

Thanks be to God for the world and life given us, our brains, our creative impulses, and how we can continue to spark new ideas, activity, love, and life.


What sparks your imagination?

What is your favorite creative activity?

What do you wish you could do?

Have you ever launched out on a new hobby or skill or sport, and how did it go?


Share here, or send to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.


Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

The author has received no remuneration for this series of columns on “Go” words inspired by the Kashi cereal campaign.


  1. I like seeing your husband being creative with the grands. What a great example of grand-parenting. It must make your “heart leap up.”

    You know my story of beginning blogging 7 years ago and how that went – ha!
    And you also know about my husband alongside creating graphics and original artwork.

    Great post, Melodie! You are preserving memories for your family and igniting memories in other minds.

  2. Thanks for always being here and adding to the post! Much appreciated. I hope we are preserving memories and igniting the creative spark for others. I spent the morning mixing up egg tempura paint colors for SS tomorrow and thinking I’ll let the children choose which creative activity they want to do.

    I did think about Cliff’s artwork and cartoons you’ve used on your blog over the years.

    Have a great Saturday and weekend.

  3. You know, I’ve never had to actively search for story ideas. I get more ideas for tales to tell than I’ll ever have time to write. (Many from vintage pieces such as postcards, pictures, letters, or handcrafted pieces from antique stores) But because they come so easily, I’ve never really given thought to what ‘sparked’ them. As I’m consciously trying to express more gratitude in my life, I’d never thought of being thankful for this wealth of ideas. The inspiration and creativity to express them is truly a blessing – not something to take for granted as I’ve been doing.
    Thank you for being a spark in my life this morning!

  4. I would say you are a bit unusual in this, perhaps, if you never need to work to crank up the idea mill. Perhaps it is the weekly deadline. I’d love other writers to respond! When I started doing my Another Way newspaper column, I promised myself I would never write about “what to write about” and I have never done that, but in my mind, I have cast about for suitable or best topics for the readers.

    I think you are right that if our eyes and ears are open to the many many stories of people around us, then we truly never run out of ideas.

    You make me terribly curious with your line: “Many from vintage pieces such as postcards, pictures, letters, or handcrafted pieces from antique stores.” Could you say more about that, or perhaps I would find some examples on your blog.

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