People carry a lot of baggage about creativity. They either think, “Oh, I’m just not creative,” or, “I’m creative as heck so I can’t be bothered by things like ‘routines’.” Well, you know what, I’m not “a math person” (<–not a thing, anyway) but I practiced a lot, I got better, and now I kind of like it. (Partly because I shifted my perspective and started thinking of it as art. I mean, have you *seen* fractals!?!) So whether you’re a Creative or an off-the-charts left-brain thinker, everyone can benefit from creativity-boosting exercises. You lift weights to get stronger, why not exercise to improve your creative thinking? Try these ideas:
Think of the premise from your favorite story. Let’s use Lord of the Rings for this example. Now think of your favorite sappy romance. Napolean Dynamite, shall we say? (What, you don’t think that movie’s a romance? These are examples, people :)) Now mash them up. Let’s say Napolean found The Ring! Or saw Gandalf on the side of the road, and the bus pulled over and let him hitch a ride. Or maybe you decide to drop Kip into the Lord of the Rings. He’d probably be some sort of dark general, huh?
Just make a short list of two different genres of movies or books or tv series and start smooshing them together. You might be surprised what ideas you generate …
Much like the mash-up of stories in the above exercise, synesthesia is a real-life (and totally fascinating) condition. People who have it perceive reality differently, thanks to a sensory switch-up in the brain. Some can smell colors, others think different digits are “flavored”, or feel music — not like, you know, whoa, man, I really felt that last chorus. These individuals experience sensory inputs differently, and may have a cross-wiring of the five senses.
Imagine what it would be like to have a form of synesthesia (you get to pick), and write about it or create some visual art like a painting or a sketch.
Many of us spend most of our time indoors and have lost our keen connection to nature. Treat yourself to a nature retreat. Go to a trail or to the water’s edge, someplace you can get away from crowds of people and loud technology. Take five notecards and a pencil.
On the front of each note card, write ‘setting’, ‘protagonist’, ‘antagonist’, ‘greatest desire’, and ‘big problem’. Give yourself about half an hour, and just let your mind relax and unfurl. Whatever ideas bubble up for each of these categories, write them down. If you fill up the back of one card, put it to the side and work to fill up the others.
Then walk around a bit to engage with your surroundings. Really listen to the sounds, allow yourself to inhale the scents.
Return to your cards and start building story lines from the individual parts. Pick an option off the back of each card to make a new plot. See how many fresh ideas you can create.
We can be hard on ourselves as adults and forget what it’s like to let our imaginations run wild. And it’s easy to get so busy that we fall into a routine–usually one without time for nurturing creativity. Try one of these creativity boosting exercises soon and see what you can find in that mysterious mind of yours.
NOW YOU: What are some activities you use to keep your creative juices juicy?
Psst! Need a writer’s journal for these exercises? Try this one.