Posts Tagged 'creative inspiration'

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!

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

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!

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

10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Writing When You’re Feeling Uninspired

(I’m busy fighting dragons, so I’m reposting an old favorite today.)

  1. Take a break and do something else for a while before returning to writing.
  2. Freewrite until new ideas start flowing.
  3. Take a shower or bath—muses are known to be particularly inspirational during bathtime! And here are some products so you don’t have to run dripping for a pen and paper.
  4. Just keep writing, and see if you make a breakthrough.
  5. Work on a different writing project.
  6. Take a walk. Turn off your brain and experience the world through your senses.
  7. Do something else creative for a while, like drawing, singing, making a collage or playing with clay.
  8. Meditate or do a creative visualization—try this one if you’re dealing with a persistent inner critic.
  9. Read a book. Let someone else’s words flow over you.
  10. Write something silly or just plain bad. Don’t judge yourself. Sometimes if you start writing, no matter how uninspired you feel, your muse eventually shows up and sprinkles a little magic on the page.

How do you break through those uninspired moments? Share your creative coping methods in the comments.


DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CREATIVE BURSTS WORKBOOK!
And receive free creativity prompts delivered to your inbox twice a week.
To learn more, click here!

Create Every Day!

I love this wonderful story about a man who painted 365 paintings in 365 days! During the year of this project, he fell in love, experienced the break-up of that relationship, had a serious biking accident, endured months of recovery and learned a friend had cancer. He also discovered that painting helped him deal with these challenges.

When asked how he managed to create a complete painting every day, he said:

I slept less and less. I found time to paint in the morning before work. 10 minutes here; ten minutes there. I became good at just painting whenever I could with whatever free time I had. I would bring my paints with me wherever I went even when it was just a dinner party. Because people understood my 365 day project they were accepting in the fact that I had to paint. I became very good at not making a mess with my paints so I would be allowed in people’s homes.

Check out the article, which includes some of his paintings and the stories behind them!

And for more inspiration, read my previous posts about Jonathan Mann’s year of writing a song every day here and here.

STOP STRANGLING YOUR MUSE!
I’ll help you slay your Perfectionism Dragon,
Herd your Inner Critics into a soundproof room,
Send your Procrastination Monster whimpering back to his cave,
And defuse all your creative blocks.

To schedule a free 30-minute telephone creativity coaching session with me, or for more information, click here.

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!

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

Creative Break—Collage Machine

Here’s another fun site from the National Gallery of Art: Collage Machine.

It allows you to position various shapes and images, then manipulate each item’s transparency, size and rotation. Or let the “Auto” button produce collages to give you ideas or as a starting point for your own creations.

Have fun, be playful and enjoy!

Creative Inspiration vs. Writing as a Job

This article from Fuel Your Writing brings up a wonderful point. James Chartrand discusses author Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on creativity at the 2009 TED conference. He highlights her belief in inspiration as something that comes from outside the writer as opposed to genius within the writer.

Chartrand mentions this moment in the speech, when Gilbert discusses talking to her absent muse:

Listen, you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this. So if you want it to be better, then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal, okay? But if you don’t do that, you know what, the hell with it, I’m going to keep writing anyway because that’s my job. And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.

Chartrand says, “I think this is brilliant. We’re used to not thinking of our creative endeavors as a job. A job is what makes you money, and then you write because you have to or because you want to or because you need an outlet for your creativity.” He goes on to discuss the importance of showing up for your muse, just as you expect your muse to show up for you.

I believe we should do everything we can to encourage inspirational moments, and that we must grab them hard with both hands when they arrive. I also believe in the “butt in chair” philosophy of writing—if you’re serious about it, it really is a job as well as creative playtime.

What do you think?

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Writing When You’re Feeling Uninspired

  1. Take a break and do something else for a while before returning to writing.
  2. Freewrite until new ideas start flowing.
  3. Take a shower or bath—muses are known to be particularly inspirational during bathtime! And here are some products so you don’t have to run dripping for a pen and paper.
  4. Just keep writing, and see if you make a breakthrough.
  5. Work on a different writing project.
  6. Take a walk. Turn off your brain and experience the world through your senses.
  7. Do something else creative for a while, like drawing, singing, making a collage or playing with clay.
  8. Meditate or do a creative visualization—try this one if you’re dealing with a persistent inner critic.
  9. Read a book. Let someone else’s words flow over you.
  10. Write something silly or just plain bad. Don’t judge yourself. Sometimes if you start writing, no matter how uninspired you feel, your muse eventually shows up and sprinkles a little magic on the page.

How do you break through those uninspired moments? Share your creative coping methods in the comments. And don’t forget to vote in the poll!

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com

Sandbox Challenge #10: Write the First Line of Your Masterpiece

I love writing first sentences. Coming up with something intriguing that will keep a reader reading. I occasionally spend time writing a bunch of them just for fun. Sometimes I’ll go back later and use one to create a longer piece.

Today’s challenge: Write the first sentence of a story, novel, essay or memoir. Write something you think would entice readers to continue reading. Write several if you’d like.

Extra credit: Write the last sentence of a story, novel, essay or memoir. Or write several.

Extra extra credit: Write a pair (or pairs) of first and last lines that could be used for the same piece.

Here are a few of mine:

First Sentences:

One day the Head Engineer changed his mind about the whole gravity thing. (from a published flash fiction story of mine)

My clothes are trying to kill me.

Claude had been reluctantly stealing women’s hearts since he’d turned 16, and now he owned a big collection of them, shoved into the coat closet in his front hall.

If strangers could see the colors of our souls, they wouldn’t look at us as if they’d just found two pieces from separate jigsaw puzzles.

Last Sentences:

He’d always loved a good show. (from the same published story)

Anger rises in me as I think of the ruined sneakers. I’d kept them white for so long.

She lay next to him all night with her eyes on the ceiling, watching a spider making its long trek across the white expanse.

And perhaps, just possibly, the coconut monkey has lost its spiky hair and can no longer puncture the tender fingers of the family’s children with its angry splinters.

If you like, post your sentences in the Tiny Packages section of the Reader’s Sandbox. (Have I mentioned that when you wonderful readers share your creative pieces here it puts a smile on my face? Sometimes I even do a happy dance in front of my computer!)

For more inspiration, check out these links from American Book Review:

100 Best First Lines From Novels

100 Best Last Lines From Novels

And, as always, be sure to have fun while doing this exercise. Play with your words and see where they take you…

Jonathan Mann’s Creativity Anthem

I recently wrote about Jonathan Mann’s project to write a song every day in 2009. Here’s his Fun A Day Anthem, sung on the train. I admire his tenacity, and find his advice to just let yourself suck sometimes refreshing!

Create Every Day!

I just saw a television interview with Jonathan Mann, an eclectic songwriter who crafted a song every day in 2009. On his website, he explains his 70/20/10 rule: 70% of what he writes will be mediocre, 20% will be bad, and 10% will be good. So, by writing every day, rather than once a week or once a month, he winds up with a bigger pile of good songs. What an inspirational thought for the last day of the year!

Read more about Mann and his project at his website, Rock Cookie Bottom.


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About Sandy Ackers

Sandy

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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