People are often baffled over creativity and wonder where it comes from – and where, for goodness sake, can we get more of it? What we do know for sure is that creativity is not some mystical magical aha! that descends upon a chosen few who are our creative superiors.
Creativity is, in fact, born with each of us and remains until we die – or beyond.
Observe a child doing everyday activities and it’s hard to miss that they bring creativity with them in everything they do, and everywhere they go.
As adults, on the other hand, for some reason we feel the silly need to plan creative time as if it wouldn’t happen otherwise.
We can blame it on our tight schedules and overly committed lives, but the bottom line is planning for “creating creativity” is a bit like telling a creature, say a lion, that you’ll feed it once a week and it’s not allowed to be hungry beyond that. Under these circumstances a lion will probably do one of two things; 1) Eat your arm the first chance it gets or 2) Wither up and die.
Oh yes, my friend, those brain storming sessions you schedule on your calendar between 10 and 12 on Thursdays is sucking the life of your real creativity.
So what happened? Where is that creative child within you that wants to come out and play? Is she buried too deep? Is he wandering someplace alone and angry inside your head rather than running the hills?
Well, no matter what reasons have contributed to your penned up creativity, it’s not too late. By having a few personal playtimes, you can learn to set your creativity free.
To play every day.
So here we go.
This first exercise is a warm up – to get your body to remember. Get out a piece of paper and pull out the crayons. What? No crayons in the house? Go get some. We’ll wait.
• Now sit down and draw a totally useless picture of nothing at all. If you have kids, do this with them. If not, turn on cartoons. Now, just scribble some colors – but you must not spend time thinking, just do. You can use one color or forty-two. No matter. Fill in all the white space, or leave lots of white space. Whatever your whim. But, and this is important, no do-overs. What you see is what you get.
• When you feel done, use a crayon to proudly sign the picture. Now, brace yourself – this is the really hard part that may cause you anxiety – I want you to put your picture in a special frame and hang it on the wall. Not in the back of the closet but somewhere prominent.
Again, get out a fresh sheet of paper and your handy box of crayons. Before you do anything with them let your eyes roll over the colors.
• Now, touch each crayon and name the color. Not the color it says on the crayon, and don’t say green or red or brown. Listen to all those voices in your head and name those colors with abandon, using words like squashed-pea-green, severed-arm-blood-red, lion’s-mane-brown or dancing-fairy-silver. Unlike in real school, here you are rewarded with high points for outlandish names.
• Select one of the colors that most appeals to you at this moment. Is it crazy-dog-yellow or the ocean-ship-blue? Whatever your choice, write a couple of simple sentences on your paper. And to take the stop-thoughts away, use some of the color words of your crayon in the first sentence to get you going.
• Feel free to write your whole story around your newly named crayon colors. For example; “It’s so crazy dog hot here today. The yellow sun just won’t quit, making me long for an ocean ship, with everything blue.” If you find yourself feeling stuck, don’t spend time. Throw down that crayon and pick up another. The point is, just write something. In color. Your color.
Now you are going to play. Every day for a month.
• Don’t plan this last part, and don’t do it at the same time every day. Just keep your crayons handy. Then, when you sit down to write, pick your favorite colors of the moment and scribble before you begin writing. Or when you sit down to have your coffee, write a few colorful sentences. The only rules are – only with crayons and no seriousness allowed.
• When you are writing, if you find yourself stuck, or seeking impossible perfection – Stop. Then pull out your crayons and look. Look at the colors. Remember the names. Think of new names. Write a few silly sentences. Use your color for that day as a method for unsticking yourself and helping you speak with your authentic voice.
These personal play times are designed to help you learn to bring your creativity out – and not just when you’ve marked it on the calendar. We get stuck because we’re trained ourselves that way. Crayons help bring us back to our kid-selves, to a time when we didn’t know what stuck was. Use color to get back in touch with the fun in creativity, and over time you’ll find it gets easier and easier to use your creativity whenever you want.
Feed your creativity with childish fun and you’ll see that it truly is a creature that loves to run wild and free.
Care to share and help inspire someone else? We’d love to hear some of your color names, or read some of your crayon-induced sentences. And next time your boss schedules one of those brain storming sessions, bring enough crayons and paper for everyone and share the fun.
Karen Daniels has her M.A. in psychology, is an author, mom, creativity lecturer, and online content specialist who writes Zen Copy , a blog which promotes creative growth and achieving success through effective online writing.
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