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Ladymia69's avatar

What are some fun, effective creative exercises?

Asked by Ladymia69 (6867 points ) January 22nd, 2011

I am interested in collecting different creative peoples’ tricks, tips, methods, and techniques for exercising creativity in writing and visual art. An example would be (something that I do) doodling in circles until I create a whole image.

What kinds of things do you artsy peeps do to warm up your creative muscles?

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11 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Find a way to inject random things into your process, and then incorporate them. It’s against the rules to reject them. So you’re telling a story and a partner randomly shouts the name of a thing, and you have to incorporate that into the story in a way that makes it natural, not forced.

There was a musician I heard on the radio once who spoke about his process with his band. They all wrote something based on some idea or feeling, and then they had to figure out a way to incorporate all the ideas into the piece.

If you’re doing art, you can change things by adding a different color. Or maybe turning the color wheel to select a random color. Or make yourself draw it upside down, turn it over and go with whatever is there.

Another way is to research what other people are doing, and get ideas or just copy the idea or the method. You will make it your own, and it will have nothing to do with whatever the original idea was.

This is improvisation, and in improvisation, you are performing live, in front of an audience. You can’t say no to anything, because they you’ll make a fool of yourself. You say yes and you build on it and make it stick and make sense.

Creativity is really quite easy. I don’t know why people get the idea they aren’t creative. The only way to not be creative is to refuse to let yourself think.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I usually get outside in the woods or on the water.It is inspiring to me.It gives me times to think and take photos.Lots of photos.
There are other times when I am out where I might see a shape or color that I am attracted to and incorporate that into a final piece.
When I get an idea,I might do a few preliminary sketches if it is a painting.If I am going to throw clay,then many times,I will just jump right in unless I plan on adding something sculptural to it.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s interesting (apropos of @lucillelucillelucille‘s comment about jumping in) that when improvising on a new piece, you often do the best, most imaginative stuff the first time you try. I’m talking music here.

Kardamom's avatar

It sounds counter-intuitive, but most of my creative thoughts and ideas (for writing, painting or creating crafts and other art projects, and even for coming up with original recipes) comes from doing very mundane ordinary things. Especially: painting walls, vacuuming the rug and driving. I think the activities have to be ones that are done kind of on auto-pilot, so I am not thinking about “how to do the task” or “what kind of problems this task is solving.”

Nially_Bob's avatar

When my friends and I meet in the pub every friday it can sometimes be a slow day for conversation so we have a few creative games that keep us occupied. One of them is what we’ve entitled, ‘The Wish Game’:

Basically, one person makes a wish and the next has to say, “Your wish is granted…” and follow it up with how it’s gone terribly wrong, then make a wish of their own. An example would be,
“I wish I was happy”
“Your wish is granted, you have an IQ of 7” – And then this person makes a wish for the next person to grant.

Another is basically the gameshow Jeopardy. We start off with a random term, phrase or person and the next person has to answer with the question that led to that, then concoct one of their own. An example being,
“Alcohol prices, burger king and the Star Wars remakes”
“Why have suicide rates shot up recently?”

The aim of both games is to simply be as creative and amusing as possible.

There’re all kinds of games like these and they can be great fun with friends or for just practicing at home as a creative exercise.

gailcalled's avatar

I have a friend (Eviva Gold) who is an art therapist and gives wonderful workshops. To keep the playing field level, she has the participants start by painting with their non-dominant hand. The results are astonishing.

Painting From the Source

More examples

Ladymia69's avatar

@gailcalled – that is nice, but I don’t want to have to pay someone to help me be creative. Thanks, anyway. However, painting and drawing with my nondominant hand is something I do fairly often.

Cruiser's avatar

I put on a metronome beat…..tic…tic…tic..tic…...tic.tic.tic.tic…and just play along with the beat….I let the rhythm of the beat lead me and eventually I hitch a ride on the beat and play my ass off and take it to a whole new melody! I love plowing new ground with my guitar! Tonight was a good night for doing just that! ;)

Ladymia69's avatar

It seems like most of the answers I have gotten are geared towards music. I am looking for exercises geared more towards writing and art. Please keep them coming people!

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Asking questions and brainstorming is the most effective creative writing exercise there is. At least it is for fiction writing. For whatever part of my novel I’m having trouble with, I write down all the questions I have about the part that’s bugging me. Sometimes that’s enough to find a solution. If not, then it’s time to write down every possible answer, from the most obvious to the most ridiculous. Actually, this is something I do almost every day. So I guess it’s more process than exercise.

There’s also an exercise I do that’s kind of like selective free writing. It’s good for coming up with connections and looking at what you’re writing from a different perspective. You start by writing down everything important in the story. Characters, places, items, emotions, themes, anything. Then choose one randomly. I either use dice (because I’m a nerd) or cut up the words and put them in a box. Write for a few minutes about what you picked, then randomly pick another. Write for a few minutes about how they’re connected. Repeat until something sparks.

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s the PBS documentary on origami, Between the Folds Yawn, you say? Cranes again, you say?

See what an extraordinary group of artists are doing when handed a square sheet of paper. Folding? OK. Cutting? Nope.

No, it’s not blowing their respective noses.

Here’s an 18 minute video about math and origami and man’s creativity.

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