I admit it – I stole the idea from Nick Cross. Read his really rather excellent Guide to Stepping Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone first and you’ll see the need for my confession.
All I’ve done is add a few more ideas…
[Even the headings below are nicked from somewhere.]
1. Ready, Steady, Cook!
I mean this literally and figuratively. First, there is much to be said for doing something utterly not-writing. Where you can’t scribble, and have to pay attention – or chip off burnt on paella at your leisure. I speak from experience – it’s not easy. Trying out a completely new recipe needs concentration and lets my mind pootle away to itself. Dinner has sometimes had its eureka moments.
Secondly, try this: go charity shopping and pick up three random objects. You could make certain you don’t ‘cheat’ by jotting down, say, I’ll have the sixth thing along on the third shelf. Or choose with your eyes shut (tricky). It works best if you actually touch them, take them home – and ask questions like these:
- Who owned them?
- All the same person – or different people?
- What connects them? (objects +/or people)
- One is precious in some way – and should not have been sold. How did it end up there?
- Why is it precious?
- What will the person do to get it back?
2. Play School
Go on – give the child inside a go! If you’re feeling a bit flush check out these toys:
- Storycubes – mix them if you fancy a mash-up
- Writing Maps (not all are real child-friendly)
- Magnetic Poetry – who says it can’t be used for narratives?
If you have a limited/non-existent budget – these are free:
3. I’m a writer – get me out of here!
Get right away from the house or the office and find new sources. Fill up your creative bucket from someone else’s pump.
- go to a gallery or exhibition you’ve never been to before – best if it’s art you thought you didn’t like
- try one section of a museum in detail – preferably an era or people that’s unfamiliar
- look for lunch-time concerts or other live events – it’s amazing how much is on if you persist in searching
- if getting out is tricky, you could borrow a CD of something new from your library – Marrabenta from Mozambique is a joy
4. Read all about it!
Stimulate yourself with:
- translations – really do give a different slant
- poetry – how to polish up your act with imagery
- travel writing ( spare National Geographics – brilliant)
- magazines – a tip from a friend Chris the Archaeologist. When travelling, pick up a magazine for an interest you don’t yet have. Then at least you’ll have something to talk about with an enthusiast.
5. The Golden Shot
Have a go at competitions even ones that don’t really seem to apply to you:
- You get a deadline. It makes me get on with the stuff and outrun the inner critic.
- You might do well ( ‘in it to win it’ anyone?). I’ve had some successes and useful feedback – it al helps.
- You’ll learn what inspires you. Me and easy reader adventures – not exactly a good fit!
I hope one or two of these ideas might help you. They all did something for me – if only inform me that Klezmer music makes an excellent accompaniment to housework!
Love your principle of art feeding art: cooking, paintings and artifacts, literature, music and play…and trying new things. Cultivating a playful attitude can really boost creativity!
Hello Marianna – how kind of you to comment. Thanks.
I’m not sure it’s stealing if you admit it! I’m very glad to have provided you with creative “inspiration”
You often do, Nick!
Great post and I completely identify with this – I do most of these when I need to freshen up the brain and do stuff that is not a project related. I have note books in a box filled with creative tips. There are some wonderful books that inspire free-flow writing – Poem Crazy, Writing Down the Bones.
Lovely to have you commenting here! Thank you for your recommendations too.
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