Tag Archives: random

Five Ideas for Jumpstarting Creativity

No preamble – here are five great ways to jumpstart your creativity today:

1. Make an  External Change.

Change is the greatest creativity kick starter there is. If you are stuck, change your environment. The fastest fix is to go for a walk, or perhaps a bike ride. Go somewhere to sit. Change your view out the window.

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” ~ Jane Austen

Disney Concert Hall tree and spiral

Or make a bigger, if temporary, change. Work in a different part of the house, or a different place altogether. J.K. Rowling loves coffee shops for writing:

“My ideal writing space is a large cafe with a small corner table near a window overlooking an interesting street (for gazing out of in search of inspiration).”

One of the reasons people go on artists’ retreats is the change of environment. Use the change as impetus for some quick creativity jump start exercises.

  • Notice and list 10 different objects or items in this new environment that aren’t in your old space.
  • Use all four walls to inspire four zentangle doodles.
  • Look for shapes in the clouds.
  • Play a different piece of music inspired by the space. Startle yourself.

2. Revisit The Old.

Go to a place, read a book, watch a favorite movie or enjoy a song from the past, especially those that stirred emotions. It might be the comfort of a beloved book, a movie that always makes you smile or cry, a song that you always dance to, or a place that you haven’t seen in a while. Take a break to a happy place to refresh your spirit.

Ancient classics in a row

Or rediscover the old and almost forgotten – old notes from past projects or journals, old projects still incomplete. We call these UFO’s – UnFinished Objects. Sometimes time has softened their edges and it’s time to dismantle the contents or take the whole story in a new direction.

  •  Maybe an old story will inspire an illustration.
  • Choose colors for how you feel and pin them to a vision board for a pallette.
  • What had you forgotten from your notes? How do they apply to your current project?

3. Try Something New.

Not to instantly achieve mastery, but instead to inspire originality in your ongoing work, play with a new art form. If you write, try visual art. If you predominantly explore one genre, play around with the conventions of another. If you always work by hand, explore CGI. If you always create on a device, remind your hand what a pencil feels like.

Try a new medium. If you generally work in acrylics, try paint chip mosaic or embroidery. If you usually play piano, try some electronic percussion.

Add a new activity to your day. If you rarely read, set aside half an hour for a book – try a compilation of short stories. Bake, garden, sew something. Bring in a piece of history – an activity that is rare now – polish your leather shoes, darn sox. These kinds of gently physical activities can be very meditative.

 4. Play With A Child

Always without a time table, allow the child to direct the play. Follow their lead and direction. It will probably be magical. You will see the world in a new way. You might have to improvise a whole story about a doll and its animal spirit guide.

Jayn with her doll

 5. Make an Internal Change

Not forever – unless it works fantastically – try working to a different schedule or muss your routine. If you are a night owl, try an early morning work session. If you set your tools down at sunset, try getting up at midnight. Try – just as a test – reordering your task list.

If you always plan every detail of your work first with sketches and detailed instructions, try doing something off the cuff without a plan. Or a baby step: if you generally lay out all your tools before you start, would pausing to fetch each one as you need it change your process to one that was more extemporaneous or simpler? Embrace the random.

Or conversely if you always improvise as you go, waiting to see what emerges from your process, try giving yourself strict guidelines or a definite plan. Write a treatment or outline before starting your story. Lay out all your tools.

butterflies and tools

I’ve always planned essays, but improvised stories. I’ve researched and made sketches, been very plan oriented in set design, but embraced random serendipity with art dolls. More and more, I find having a plan, writing a treatment, working to my own sketch, to be helpful. There are more steps, but the final result is better. And how I love mind storms and vision books.

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Embrace Randomness

Marbled paper

Embracing the random was one idea that I’ve included in a past newsletter, and I want to revisit it. Randomness doesn’t replace Design – which is an intentional process to solve a specific problem. But it can be a great creativity jumpstarter, and a component of your design process. I mean just think of Scrabble!

Surprise effects with projects like tie dye or paper marbling are not the only places where randomness can produce delightful results. Many people are familiar with the idea of opening a book at random to find an “answer” to a problem. It is really a way of resetting your old thought pattern – the answer actually comes from within, from making mental connections.

Sandra Dodd sells Thinking Sticks, a thought and word game designed to encourage players to make connections between ideas that initially seem unrelated. It’s to show that learning can be free ranging. So can creativity.

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”

~ Albert Einstein

Here are some happy accidents in the field of science and invention.

Here are some ways for you to use serendipity as creative inspiration:

  • Open a book or magazine at random and press your finger to a page. Use the first words you find as a writing prompt, or to inspire an illustration. Ask someone to think of a number and then turn to that page in a book. Imagine creating a painting or sculpture of the events on that page.
  • Set up a situation where unconnected objects are brought together. Close your eyes and reach into your bead container, or button jar, and pull out three or four items. Use the colors or shapes (or repetition) to inspire a sketch or stacked mini sculpture.
  • Try spinning a color wheel and using only the color on which you land for a drawing, collage or mood board.
  • Paint some pages and tear them into strips. Close your eyes and collect strips from different pages – arrange them into a pleasing collage.
  • Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Make up a nutty story about the first person you pass (in your head).
  • Point and shoot your camera every 10 steps. Turn the images into a digital collage, or look for repeating colors or shapes.
  • Go to Wikipedia and start clicking on links randomly. Look at the Wiki Commons images on a page that is several pages along from your start point. Will the picture inspire a story, poem or art work?

Embracing the random within an art piece or project.

Usually the parts of the piece that are unpredictable still come within certain parameters. It’s the detail that is random. For example when we pull the letters out of the bag for that game of Scrabble, we expect wooden letters, not a pickle or a peppermint. Random has it’s limits.

  • Tie dye, whether with crumpled fabric and bottles of dye, or using the actual tied resist method creates beautiful random effects.
  • Throwing balloons filled with paint creates amazing splatter.
  • Making monoprints with gel foundation, or on a hard surface, can create somewhat unpredictable results.

Mistakes

Errors don’t have to be tossed away. My friend Kelly calls mistakes “learning-takes”.

  • What can you do differently next time?
  • How can you embrace the unexpected result this time?

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If anything turns out to be useful to you, please let me know in the comments.