Archive for the 'Inspiration' Category

Make A Creative Leap

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.

—Ray Bradbury


Blast Through Writers Block: Create a Sensory Collage

Here’s a good exercise to try if you’re stuck, blocked or ready to start a new piece but don’t know what to write:

Take a walk, and bring a notebook. Jot down things you see, hear, smell, feel, touch and experience. Use all your senses.

Include everything:

  • bits of conversation—not just the words but also the tone of the language and the postures of the speakers
  • neighborhood signs—their messages and their visual style
  • changing cloud formations and the things they bring to mind for you
  • the exact color of the sky
  • a crying or laughing baby—how it sounds and how it makes you feel
  • the scent, texture and color of blooming flowers
  • dogs checking each other out or chasing squirrels
  • traffic—the sound, smell and look of it
  • the sights, sounds and smells of trees you encounter
  • the color and texture of the hair of anyone you pass
  • the items people are holding or carrying

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!

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Make A Creative Leap

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.

—Ray Bradbury


10 Ways to Woo Your Muse

metal sculpture

Rerunning one of my most popular posts:

  1. Do something you haven’t done since you were a child. Slide down a slide. Eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Play in a sprinkler. Sing a song you liked when you were a kid.
  2. Keep a notebook next to your bed, and write about whatever wakes you up.
  3. Take a little time to stop “doing” and just “be” for a while. Meditate. Walk. Stare at the wall. Soak in a bubble bath.
  4. Spend some time doing anything you consider fun, even if it seems frivolous. Especially if it seems frivolous.
  5. Go for a walk and look at everything in your path as if you’re seeing it for the first time.
  6. Enjoy some childlike creativity. Color. Dance. Play with Play-Doh.
  7. Pay attention to your dreams—both the night kind and the day kind.
  8. Rip up your To Do list for the day or for the afternoon or for half an hour and do whatever you feel like doing.
  9. Go outside at night and count the stars. Or waltz in the rain. Or share your secrets with the moon.
  10. Do something silly. Talk in a funny voice. Walk down the street backwards. See if you can balance a spoon on your nose.

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17 Fun Online Creative Breaks

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.

And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
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Want More Creativity? Turn Your Day Upside Down

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:

  • Write a Not To Do List. Include items like “Don’t check e-mail before I start writing,” “Don’t vacuum until I’ve spent half an hour painting” and “Don’t listen to that voice inside my head telling me I’m being selfish for creating instead of _______.”
  • Let Time Manage You. Instead of making a schedule with blocks of time for each of your day’s activities, simply let the day unfold. This can be difficult if you feel like time is a beast to be tamed and molded to your will. (Believe me, I know. I struggle with this one.) But if you can let go of your schedule even for a little while, you may be amazed at the results. Yes, there are certain scheduled things you must attend to, like going to work and picking up your kid from soccer. But you can findor makesome unscheduled moments in your days and weeks if you really look for them. Make a point of letting go of unessential activities and letting yourself do whatever feels right in the moment at those times.
  • Be Unproductive. Forget about producing a finished story or song or painting. Think of your creativity as play instead of goal-oriented work. Toss unexpected words together. Combine notes in ways that don’t make sense. Paint something silly. Surprise yourself. If it doesn’t work, you’ve learned something about what doesn’t work. It if does work, you may have just produced a masterpiece.
  • Don’t Create a Perfect Space for Doing Your Artistic Work. This one goes against advice I constantly see for writers and other creative people. There’s nothing wrong with having a nice place to write/compose/sculpt/sketch. But you shouldn’t be wedded to that spot. You should be able to pick up a crayon and scrap of paper wherever you are and create something new. Paint at a park. Write while sitting in a waiting room. Compose a song in your head during your commute. Having only one spot where you can create places a severe and unnecessary limitation on your muse (who really just wants to create everywhere, all the time).
  • Watch TV. Another perennial piece of wisdom from both time management gurus and creativity proponents is to completely cut out watching television. It’s a time suck, it stifles creativity and it’s just bad, according to these  people. Yes, if you plop down in front of the TV for four hours every night and turn into a mental zombie, that’s not very healthy. If you only watch uninspiring sitcoms and formulaic movies, you’re not helping your creativity. But blanket comments condemning TV really rub me the wrong way.  I’ve found so much inspiration on television over the years. From documentaries that introduced me to other worlds and ideas. From movies that grabbed my emotions and made me think about things or events in a new way. And yes, even from cleverly written sitcoms that included characters or situations that jumpstarted my creativity. People who believe TV = bad just aren’t thinking creatively enough. And, like the Internet, social networks, video games and anything else that can turn into an addictive pursuit, you need to use it in a way that enhances your life and your creativity rather than as a crutch to avoid life.

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.

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Paddle Surfer Wisdom

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.

paddle surfer

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.

And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
CLICK HERE!   (To learn more, click here)


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About Sandy Ackers


Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

To learn more about Sandy, click here: About Sandy

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Meet My Muse

Click here to read the post discussing my relationship with my somewhat pesky male muse.

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