There are thousands of ways to be creative. Here are just a few to try:
- You know that free online class you’ve always wanted to take? Do it now!
- A lot of people did this during the pandemic: choose an iconic artwork, and dress yourself (or your child, or your dog) to look like it. Take a picture and post on social media.
- Go to a public place with a notebook and pen. Watch people and make up stories about them. Write your stories down.
- Choose a favorite song and choreograph a dance to it. (You might need to film yourself doing the dance so you don’t forget it. Try to think of a way to notate it.) Then teach the dance to someone else.
- Make up a new holiday (Umbrella Day? Castanet Day? Tuna Casserole Day?) and a unique way to celebrate it. Invite all your friends to your celebration.
- Buy a bottle of bubbles at the dollar store and sit on your front stoop to blow them.
- Cut paper snowflakes.
- Build a blanket fort. Make yourself a snack to eat inside it, and do something fun in there (read a book with a flashlight, take a nap, pet a cat).
- Do a photographic study—take a picture every day of/from the same location at the same time of day for a month or a year, documenting changes (of seasons, growth, decay, quality of sunlight).
- Write a love letter—to a real person in your life, or an imagined one; to a romantic partner, or a friend, or a relative, or a pet.
- Identify things that need inventing—a wastebasket that empties itself, windshield wipers that exude fresh rubber as they wear, a doorbell that plays your favorite song. If you can think of a way to make it, do!
- Call that friend you’ve lost touch with. Ask him how he’s doing. Let him talk—you listen and ask questions.
- Watch a classic movie you’ve never seen: Casablanca, It’s a Wonderful Life, Some Like It Hot, To Kill a Mockingbird. See what all the fuss is about.
- Take a walk. Bring a notebook and pen. Think about stuff, especially problems. See what solutions you can come up with. Walking with a notebook and pen is an especially good technique for writers needing to work out plot problems or come up with topics to write about.
- Think about how a crazy person might solve a problem. (Yeah, crazy like a fox.)
- Follow connections. You know how when you think of one thing, it reminds you of another? Follow the trail and see where it leads. You’re thinking of how a joey (baby kangaroo) rides in its mother’s pouch, and that reminds you of how your daughter used to reverse her backpack so that it became a frontpack, and then you remember the time she stuffed her backpack with licorice and it smeared her homework. . .
- Learn to do something most people learn to do when they’re kids. Swimming. Riding a bike. Skateboarding.
- Practice yoga. Learn a new pose.
- If you have a musical instrument at home, try playing favorite songs (or children’s songs) by ear.
- That long term creative project you’re afraid to start—buy a package of gold stars, and mark your calendar with them every day that you work on the project.
- Write a haiku—a short poem of three lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second 7, the third 5: windy autumn days / colorful leaves blowing down / rake them into piles.
- Lie on a blanket outside and look at the clouds. What are they shaped like? A lamb? President Lincoln? A Corvette? A mushroom?
- Before you throw an old magazine in the recycling bin, tear out a few pictures and put them on your desk in a folder marked “inspiration.” Then refer to them when you want to draw something, but you don’t know what.
- Read poems.
- Draw a self-portrait. Draw lots of self-portraits. Challenge yourself by trying different techniques: pen and ink, watercolor, colored pencil. Draw a self-portrait using one continuous line. Draw a self-portrait using your non-dominant hand.
- Paint a design on your toenails—or on someone else’s nails.
- Bake cookies—but add one secret ingredient to the dough.
- Choose a favorite quote and write it in fancy lettering, childish lettering, or cut-out letters.
- Go to the dollar store with $10 and buy 10 meaningful presents for your friends.
- Spend an afternoon in a museum.
- Make a list of things you’re grateful for: mild weather, puppies, finding your keys.
- Pick up a small item, like a stone, a paperclip, or a thumbtack. What does its shape suggest to you? Put it on a piece of paper, and draw a picture around it. I love what Debbie Ridpath Ohi does with this idea.
- Listen to music, or watch music videos. Listen to your favorites, or the classics (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart), or discover new artists.
- If you’re stuck in a waiting situation (at the doctor’s office, in line, on broken-down public transportation), don’t fidget—daydream!
- Watch funny animal videos on YouTube.
- Cultivate creative friends, and connect with them often.
- Watch TED talks. Here’s a good one.
- If you’re stuck, be mindful. Take deep breaths. Be in the moment.
- Improve your nutrition. Get off junk food. Limit your salt and sugar. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Attend a conference for one of your interests.
- Accept that creativity isn’t any one thing. It’s millions of things, and different sparks for different people.
- Buy a package of googly eyes. Go look for things to stick them on.
- Make a puppet. Write a puppet show. Put it on with a child.
- Make your own list of ways to be creative. Can you think of 50? 100? 1000?
You have listed lots of excellent ideas. I may blow bubbles on the porch today.
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Oh good! I’ll come over and sit next to you.
Bring a coat! It’s cold here right now!
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