In my last post I mentioned exercising your Creativity on a regular basis. The best way to get into a regular Creativity exercising routine is to start a project. Why?
Imagine this scenario. You’ve worked hard all morning and most of the afternoon. Now you have half an hour to yourself. Your time. Special time. What will you do?
You feel this inexorable tug. The call of the television pulls you toward the couch. But wait! What was that about exercising your Creativity? Wouldn’t this be an excellent time? Yes! But how? You’re tired. Your head’s a jumble. You have no idea where you should start. In your moment of indecision, the TV wins.
Yup, TV wins just about every time barring extreme determination on your part or power blackout. But, there is one way to beat the TV! Would you like to know how?
The winning tactic is: Choose your Creative Project beforehand.
It really can be that simple. If you have your Creative Project chosen, and the next step in your project planned, your chance of breaking away from the TV’s dastardly grasp is that much greater.
What to Choose
Your choice of project is very personal. I can’t tell you what to choose. That’s between you and your Creativity. However, I can offer some suggestions – starting points for ideas. You and your Creativity need to take it from there. Choose something you’re both interested in, because it’s your interest and excitement that will drive the project.
Now, when you think of creativity (the act of being creative rather than the character in your head), it’s easy to think of it in the context of art, literature or something similar. While this at times is a logical place to start, these subjects are not the end all and be all of creative projects. And here I let you in on a little secret. Lean closer to your monitor and I’ll tell you.
We Creativities love influencing every aspect of your life. Once we get going, we usually can’t stop at the odd poem or doodle. We want to keep going, keep creating, keep exploring. And so, some of the suggestions on this list may be a little unexpected – more ‘practical’ than you might first choose. But take the time to roll each one around in your head. You may be surprised at where interest and inspiration strike you.
My Sample List
So, here’s a list of suggestions, from the ‘most obvious’ down to the more unexpected. As you read, look for options that spark ideas in your mind, pinch your gut with excitement, and/or touch off your interest.
- Writing – You don’t have to be an aspiring author to pick this kind of project. Keeping a journal can be very therapeutic. Poetry is good for the soul. Recording memoirs is a beautiful legacy to leave for future generations. Write something that makes you smile, something that makes others laugh, or something that helps you cry. Buy a beautiful notebook or journal; pick one that inspires you and makes you feel warm and fuzzy when you see it.
- Painting or Drawing – Once again, you don’t have to be a budding Da Vinci to pick this one. Doodle. Experiment. Get dirty. Paint a canvas. Paint a pot. Paint a house. Use watercolours, oils, charcoal, pencils, crayons, pens, dies, vegetables, tyres, flowers. Anything that leaves a smudge. If you feel an affinity to the brush, pick it up and wield it proudly. And remember, you never have to show anyone if you don’t want to.
- Craft – What about folk art? Pottery? Knitting? Woodwork? Making jewelry? There are many different kinds of crafts to learn, all with beautiful results. Have you ever considered making lace? Resurrect dying arts and traditions. What about spinning wool? If you’re interested in something, or have always wondered how it’s made, investigate. The answer may be delightfully engaging.
- Sewing – Alas, it seems the simple act of sewing is one of the dying arts. Remember the good old days when clothes were homemade and all embroidery was done by hand? Remember when you could pick exactly what design, colour, buttons and ribbons you wanted? Recapture the excitement of a new pattern, the wonders of fabric, and the satisfying feeling of having made something yourself.
- Cooking – Be brave. Experiment. Discover why beetroot and chocolate make great muffins. Discover 23 different recipes for egg whites. Cook every recipe in the entree section of your cookbook, or in the whole cookbook! Find the least used spice in your cupboard and discover its perfect use. Find the dish you are most afraid of cooking and give it a go. Try yeast cooking, and enjoy that lovely smell of freshly baked bread.
- Music and Singing – Learn a new instrument, or practice one you already know how to play. Learn a new song. Learn a new technique. Play with songs you already know. Play them faster, slower, higher, lower, softer…you get the idea. Experiment with the feeling of the song. Create your own medley. Compose your own song. It’s not as hard as it first sounds. Tinker. Throw caution to the wind and just play; really play, not just in the sense of performing music but in the sense of having fun. Sing, when you’re in the shower, when you’re in your car, when you’re walking, cleaning – anywhere anytime. Look up the lyrics for a song you’ve always mumbled your way through. Replace lyrics of songs. Change the subject, the tense – change one thing, change everything.
- Language – Learn a new language. Use creative mnemonics to remember words. Discover new idioms. Embrace new cultures. What if you don’t want to start a new language? Why not continue studying the deeper meanings of your mother tongue? Learn new words, or check the nuances of words you already know. Buy yourself a Dictionary of Word Origins and unearth the ancient meanings of the words you use every day. Explore the wonders of the language you take for granted.
- Viewpoint – Try looking at your life, or a situation in a different way. Change your viewpoint. I’m not just talking about changing a negative to a positive. I’m talking change a blue to a yellow, a discovery to a journey, a criticism to a gem. Take the things that annoy you, frustrate you, bore you, inhibit you, and explore different ways of envisioning them. Build mental pictures of these things. Illustrate the concepts. Find new ways of coping, and enjoying, these situations.
And that’s just a beginning. Did anything stand out to you? Interest you? Intrigue you? Use these points as stepping stones, or launching pads for your own Creative Project.
In the coming months we will explore some of these points in more detail. With that in mind, I present a new category on this blog: Practical Creativity. In this category we’ll consider how your Creativity can benefit you in practical ways. Stay tuned.
In the mean time, do you have any ideas for your Creative Project? If so, let us know. 🙂
Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art
February 18, 2010 at 2:41 am
The funny thing is, that giving into the urge to start a creative project actually energizes me and it impacts my writing in a positive way. The more you write, the more you can write…and the same holds true for any creative project. The cross-fertilizing aspect is very powerful.
February 18, 2010 at 10:45 am
You’re right. It’s the same as building core strength through exercise then affects other aspects of your life.
I think this is a big reason why people believe there are ‘creative people’ and then there’s the rest of us. Those who work to be creative become more creative with practice, therefore reaching heights those who don’t practice never reach.
June 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm
Here’s an off the wall activity that is definitely creative:
Teach a Class – If there is something you know well enough to teach, and people you know who would like to learn, teaching it to them on a regular basis can be both one of the most creatively taxing and creatively energizing, get-the-juices-flowing thing you can do. Why? Because every week (or on whatever time frame in which the class is taught), your Creativity gets the opportunity to help you with dozens of tasks….all geared toward sparking the learning juice in your students (and anyone who has ever taught anything will understand that for this, Creativity is a MUST!)
I’ve recently begun teaching a class – a subject that I’ve taught a few times before. Each time I revisit the subject, and the experience of imparting the subject to a group of students, I approach the topic differently – radically differently. This time I finally feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it…not just imparting knowledge which they will remember long enough to pass the next test and then forget about for the rest of their life, but really teaching them to LOVE the subject, and love learning about it. My students are excited about class, and laugh through large portions of it.
Interestingly enough, this is largely because I got some advice from someone who had taught this particular subject many times as well, but on a much larger scale. He advised me not to teach the basics. He insisted that all of the basics they could research with Google and YouTube for themselves, and get just as much out of it. Tell them they have to research those things on their own. It is a waste of time to teach that to them, when you have so much more you can teach. Teach them the structures, and the concepts, the ins-and-outs, the complex workings of the subject – and teach it HANDS ON. Teach one concept and get them using it immediately. Throw them into the deep end. Don’t worry. They’ll swim.
I found this to be very radical advice. I was afraid it would scare my eager students away. But, no matter how much it scared me, it also resonated with me as exactly the right way to get them involved, excited and challenged.
The class started 2 weeks ago…and they are LOVING IT. And, they are learning things (both basic and complex) that blow me away. They ARE doing their research. I pile the homework on, and they do it, without my “checking up on them,” I see them practicing things I never taught them, and combining them with things that I have taught them. It’s phenomenally fun! And, thinking of classroom activities that will keep everyone involved 100% of the time is letting my Creativities (mainly Angelica), have a grand old time.
Ooh! And, plans for this week’s class, and last’s have totally confirmed the “incubator” concept in my mind. Everything has been completely ready on time . . . but each week, I haven’t put any plans on paper until that day or the night before. I’ll be thinking about it all week…but 1-2 days before, inspiration hits, and the last day I get the preparation done. The “ready on time” was particularly evident this week, because technically *I* didn’t teach the class. I have a bad cold, which came on suddenly…but my husband heard my ideas for class activities yesterday, I typed the schedule of topics, activities, questions to ask out for him today, and he and my Mom taught the class for me. I listened/peeped from the other room, and the material flowed seamlessly, the students were excited and involved, and were so eager to keep learning, that they asked them if they would keep teaching after hours, answering additional questions, etc.
WHEEEEEE!!!!! Me and my Creativities are very happy!
June 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm
Wonderful! There is so much scope for using Creativity while teaching! It gets me excited every time.
So glad you’ve confirmed yourself as an “incubator.” Do you find it lifts a weight off your mind knowing you’re not putting things off but actually working through your creative cycle?