This month, GOOD Magazine is challenging its readers to make time for art on a daily basis. The editors even offer 31 suggestions for ways that readers can incorporate art into their lives.
I like the suggestions – especially “break something (you have to destroy in order to create!)” – but many are geared toward developing creativity in the visual rather than the written, theatrical, and musical arts, to name a few.
Even though the exercises don’t necessarily require the act of writing, I still recommend that writers try some of these creative exercises. Of course, the visual arts influence literature as much as literature influences the visual arts. Why not write a poem about a painting at a museum or sketch a visual representation of a character?
When you finish the exercises from GOOD, you can explore my five ways to expand your creative writing capacity this month. The best news is that you probably already do many of these activities!
1. Create a character sketch using Pinterest. Make a new “board” named after your character and “pin” photos and links that represent your character: What hairstyle does he/she wear? How does he/she dress? How would he/she decorate a living space? What does he/she like to eat?
2. Look at a random friend’s Facebook profile and try to see how your friend’s posts could form the skeleton of a story. For the most part, your Facebook friends only share what they think best represents them. In the same way, writers only share the details they believe add to the narrative. How can you use your Facebook friend’s posts to construct a meaningful narrative?
3. Brainstorm advertising copy for your favorite products. Many beginning writers have no idea how to “sell” their stories or essays. They don’t feel the need to do so because their instructors are the only people reading their work. However, a well-crafted and catchy introductory paragraph or even a first line can make the reader want to “buy” the writing. As you use your favorite products (makeup, snacks, clothing, your car, etc.) throughout your day, think about how you would “sell” these items to a friend or even a stranger. What kind of nouns, adjective, and verbs would you use to catch a busy person’s attention?
4. Think of the most boring thing that has happened to you in a day and write a blog post about that event in a new, interesting way. If you don’t already have a blog, you could share that story with a friend or family member. Don’t apologize for the boring nature of your story. Rather, do everything you can to tell the story in a compelling way without lying.
5. Notice the people around you when you’re stuck in a particular setting like a public bus or on line at a convenience store. Observe their behaviors and interactions and then imagine how they would act differently in other circumstances or settings. We rarely think about how much setting or mood affects the way those around us behave. In the same way, beginning writers rarely devote enough attention to setting or mood. Understand the importance of setting the scene.
(Photo by Bohman)