Working Your Creative Muscles

In Writership’s online program, we offer a creative mission each week. Our aim is to keep our creativity muscles in good shape. Creative missions, inspired by Julia Cameron’s Artist Dates, are activities to nudge our community members into exploring, experimenting, and stretching.

Most of the creative missions involve getting out and trying something new. Writers and other artists can get stuck in ruts, and inertia is hard to overcome. Creating a regular practice of trying new experiences makes it easier when we are thrust outside of our comfort zones, artistically and otherwise. Some activities turn out to be just what we needed in the moment to reinvigorate our creative life. Some are clearly not our cup of tea, and others become regular habits that we couldn’t imagine living without now. Here are a few of our favorite missions:

  •  As writers, we need to hone our craft. One way to do this is to increase awareness and bring specificity to our writing. To that end, pick a color, and then go for a walk for at least ten minutes. While you’re walking, notice all the things you see that are the color you’ve chosen. After your walk, sit down and write for fifteen to twenty minutes about the items you saw. Notice what you noticed. Notice the level of detail.
  • Take a survey of your habits, good and bad. What are the things you do automatically without having to think? Keep your list on hand and write down whenever you notice a habit you weren’t been conscious of before. After a week of noticing, take a few minutes to evaluate your habits. Are there any you want to eliminate or change? Which do you want to fiercely protect? What’s missing? Which ones are serving you? Which ones are not?
  • Check out Digital Book Day. On July 14, digital books from a wide variety of authors will be free for twenty-four hours. Go to this site, download something from outside your comfort zone, and dive in. Sign up for notification of future Digital Book Days.
  • Play with the sound of words. Go to this site and find a poem by a poet you’re unfamiliar with. Read it aloud; get a feel for it. Read it aloud again, and relish the way the words feel in your mouth, the way they sound. Memorize the words.
  • Experiment with tactile sensory experience. Make some homemade play dough, make bread, go outside and dig in the dirt, or make a sand castle. Check out this board on Pinterest for more ideas. How does it feel to get your hands dirty?

We urge you to try one or more of these and make a regular date with yourself to explore new experiences. Be sure and keep notes on the ones that are most effective. How do you keep your creativity muscles in good working order? In what ways do you step out of your comfort zone? We invite you to share in the comments below.