Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.
Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World
Take a walk, and bring a notebook. Jot down things you see, hear, smell, feel, touch and experience. Use all your senses.
These are just a few ideas—be sure to include everything that catches your attention. And pay attention to everything around you as you walk.
Then find a place to sit such as a park bench, cafe, picnic table, the ground, your car … whatever works for you.
Now combine several of the sensory images you’ve gathered and use them to create a story, essay, poem or any other piece of writing. Play around with the images and try different things, just as you would if you were making a collage. If one combination doesn’t work, try something else. Write something silly or dark or absurd or uncharacteristic of you. Have fun as you fit the puzzle pieces together in different ways.
I like this exercise because it combines the physical activity of walking with the mental and emotional experience of collecting bits of what you experience. It gets you away from staring at a blank piece of paper. And combining things in new ways always engages the muse.
Let me know how you like this exercise, or share your creations!
Rerunning one of my most popular posts:
For those of you wanting a little creative break today, here’s a roundup of amusing and inspiring sites I’ve mentioned before. Some people call these time-wasters, but since they all stimulate creativity, I consider them time very well spent!
Sketch Swap: Draw something with your cursor and submit it, then receive a picture someone else created.
This is Sand: Click on the tiny gray box at the top left of the screen for instructions. You can use your cursor to drop digital sand of different colors and create beautiful virtual designs.
Magnetic Poetry: An electronic version of the refrigerator magnets that turn us all into poets.
Language is a Virus: A variety of inspirational devices including writing prompts, a character name generator, a poetry generator, the text collage, madlib poems, the haiku-a-tron and much more.
Wordle: Turn your words into a cloud.
Mr. Picasso Head: Have fun with this this twist on the childhood “Mr. Potato Head” game.
String Spin: Click and draw with your cursor, watch your sketch rotate in 3D, then hit the button that puts it into full spin to create amazingly intricate patterns.
Character Description Generator: Use this to create quirky people for fun or fiction writing.
Still Life: Create a still life in the style of the Masters with this imaginative interactive website from the National Gallery of Art. Note: It may take a couple of minutes to download, but it’s well worth the wait.
Collage Machine: Another fun site from the National Gallery of Art: create a collage online.
Animation Station: Make your own animated cartoon.
Matisse’s Pieces: Pretend you’re Henri Matisse as you position, size and color various shapes to create your own cutout.
Make Your Own Music: Click on the squares to activate different tones, then listen as they produce gorgeous music when they touch each other.
Doodle Pad: Choose your color from the rows of crayons at the bottom, choose the thickness of the line using the slider at the top, and doodle away.
Splash Paint: Make virtual abstract designs with this fun online paint program.
Draw a Stickman: Draw a stickman, then help him out as he gets into trouble. Choose from two fun adventures.
Conduct a Band: Create and conduct your own beatbox or a capella band.
If you’re worried you’re not living up to your creative potential, it’s easy to find articles and books on managing your time, setting goals and being more productive. But so much of this helpful advice just doesn’t work when it comes to creativity. It can make you feel tight and uncompromising. It can make your muse pack up her bags and fly away until you allow her more space.
So here’s my advice for turning some of the common productivity wisdom on its head. Try it and see if it makes your muse smile:
Do you have any creative techniques you use that turn conventional wisdom on its head? I’d love to hear about them and add them to this list.
Rerunning an old favorite today:
Last week on Kauai, my husband met a weathered paddle surfer who claims a he’e (octopus) helps him navigate the sometimes treacherous ocean waters. I love stories like this. Whether you believe it literally or enjoy it as a colorful myth, the paddle surfer’s story also makes a wonderful metaphor.
I’ve spent a lot of time here talking about my Muse. But now I’m thinking about how the inspirational muse and the navigational octopus could work together in the creative process.
My Muse feels like an ethereal guest. He’s pouty, he has ADHD and he owns a perpetually broken watch. Though he drives me crazy, his dynamic personality and vivid tales color the room with brilliant imagery when he chooses to visit.
But do I have a creative he’e? And if so, what purpose does she serve?
I imagine an ancient and wise creature living in the deep waters of my subconscious. Always there, silently watching. Hers is the voice that bubbles up when I berate myself for not working on one of my unfinished novels. That quietly whispers in my ear: “No, Sandy. You’re supposed to be writing about creativity now.”
My he’e knows which current flows smoothly in the direction I’m headed. She nudges me away from the dangerous undertow that threatens to sweep me far from my center. But this insightful octopus speaks softly, watching as I often do the exact opposite of what she’s suggested.
“The animals know things,” the paddle surfer told my husband. “You just have to listen to them.”
I believe we all have a creative creature residing in our deep waters and steering us in the right direction. It’s the voice you hear in those small moments when you stop listening to all the other noise in your head. When you stop thinking and stop doing and allow yourself to simply be. And if you tap into the muse’s amazing bursts of inspiration while still hearing the quiet wisdom of the he’e, the two together might help you reach amazing creative heights.