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Expand Your Creativity

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GirlOnBedHulaHoopHEADERHow can you reduce stress, re-energize, expand your creativity, find a new perspective and motivate yourself? One word. FUN. Studies document how important laughter and fun is to enhance your life and health. There is another important benefit to an artist or writer—increased productivity and creativity. Summer is the perfect time to turn up your fun factor. I was reminded of this when we took guests to tour Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright’s beautiful home in Spring Green, Wisconsin). I came away re-energized with new ideas and inspired to delve into my own writing and art. It’s important to plan fun stuff of your own, guests or no, and I know your area has tons of opportunities for fun and inspiration. Just look around and plan some fun!

Carry a small notebook or note cards with you–or use that app on your phone or digital recorder. The more notes you take, the more ideas will come—a most excellent creative cycle. Keep a creative journal and take it along on your play date, or re-write and expand ideas from your notes once you return home. You’ll get in the habit of feeding the creative stew churning inside you, which will replenish and recharge your creativity. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends an “artist date” as a once-a-week adventure. Not sure where to start the fun? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Take a walk or hike at one of the local parks and get in the moment, soaking up with all senses and observing everything you can. Record the ideas that come. Write about them when you get home.

Attend a local art or music festival (and support your local arts community as well as recharge your own creativity). Be sure to try something you don’t often do to shake up your imagination. Write about it.

Grab your camera and spend the afternoon exploring and shooting photos. What to photograph? Anything you find interesting. Print the photos out and make a collage. Write about your afternoon.

Write a poem (especially if you don’t write poetry). Don’t get overwhelmed, create a poem that is fun–write a limerick, haiku, or rewrite the lyrics to your favorite song.

Try that release-your-inner-child thing. Jump rope, get a hula-hoop, PlayDoh, Legos, a box of crayons and paper and go wild. Get some chalk and make a hopscotch then turn it into a work of art. Go ahead. You’ve got creative permission. Play. Write a letter to someone important in your life. Mail it!

Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t. Do one.

Spread a blanket on the ground and do some cloud watching. Move your blanket and look up through trees. Lie on your stomach and get a different perspective on the world. Write about what you observe.

Take $10. Go to a fabric store, craft store, thrift store, home-improvement store, estate or garage sale and spend it on something that inspires you or gives you an idea for a creative project. Go ahead and make a “fun investment” in your creativity.

Take a class in dance, acting, painting, knitting, pottery, Photoshop, photography, gardening, beading–there are hundreds of choices. Be brave and take one outside your comfort zone for a truly creative experience.

Make a “hope chest” for your ideas. Jot them on slips of paper and keep adding. Choose one at random. Go play!

Write out a bucket list. Start making plans to do one on the list.

 

Plese add any ideas of your own as a comment. I’m always looking to expand my list of creative fun stuff.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion,” available online and in bookstores everywhere. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, “Between the Lines.” She writes from a log home in the woods of southwestern Wisconsin that she shares with her husband and three cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com

 

  1. I find that people watching stirs my creativity, especially some place that draws large, eclectic crowds. Pro sports events, concerts, large shopping malls, street fairs, airports, even restaurants.

    One thing my wife and I do is find an interesting or unusual group of people, maybe eavesdrop on their conversation a bit, or study their body language and try to figure out what their “story” is.

    For example, a couple in a restaurant. Maybe they’re celebrating an anniversary, maybe they’re breaking up.

    Or a small group traveling in an airport. Where are they coming from? Where are they going? Why? Especially foreigners. Are they emigrating? Visiting long-lost relatives. On a business trip? Maybe that debonair looking guy with beady eyes who nervously glances around is a spy! Or a terrorist!! How’d he get past security?? Is he going to detonate some sort of bomb? Or maybe he’s FBI and he’s stalking one of the ten most wanted criminals!

    I can’t say I’ve gotten any concrete story ideas from this activity … yet … but it’s a good creativity exercise for me.

    Chris

  2. Excellent ideas Chris! Even if just good for creativity, that definitely feeds into writing (at least that’s been my experience). I’m adding them to my list. Thanks!

  3. You are so right – having fun is vital! And this list of suggestions is great, but for me the best way to have fun, is to hang out with people I enjoy.

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