Creative Exercise: Making Your Own Rules

IMG_4894

Each week I will offer some ideas on how to exercise your creativity.  If you missed my first post, you can find it here.  This week I turn to the monotony in our lives.  Chores!  I have found a way to make chores more fun.  Don’t misunderstand, if your chores are a 1 on the fun scale where 1 is misery and 10 is jubilation, then these ideas may push your 1 all the way to a 2 or maybe even a 3!

For your creative development, creating games out of common tasks will help you develop a set of logical rules designed to be fair.  You don’t want to set up your game so you always win.  Although it may be great to always win for a time, soon the game won’t be much fun to play.  Rules are important in your creative projects, too.  All writers must come up with a set of rules for the worlds they build.  One such rule may be that our sun gives some aliens superpowers while normal humans have none.  In most cases these rules, especially when different from our own world, need to be much more complex.  The same need for rules applies for art and music.  The rules help your audience make sense of the piece.  Making up games requires making up rules which will help you do the same in your creative projects.

Turn Your Chores into Games

Personally, my mind thinks of things numerically so I turn many of my chores into games relating to numbers and time.  Perhaps you are more artistically or musically inclined, so your games may consist of creating patterns, images or rhythms.

Emptying the Dishwasher

I’m not a fan of this tedious chore.  Since it is such a small project it shouldn’t be an issue, yet I feel the need to make it just a bit more entertaining by turning it into a game.  If the dishwasher is clean in the morning, I start the coffee maker and challenge myself to have it emptied and any dirty dishes waiting in the sink loaded before the coffee maker drips the last drop of hot water through the filter.  If I’m not making a pot, I choose another timing method to time my emptying prowess such as the microwave countdown while my lunch warms, or guessing the number of steps I need to take to finish the job.  Sometimes I make this more challenging by requiring that I empty each cupboard or drawer’s residents in order.  Feel free to change the rules each time you play the game.  Sometimes you need to make it easier if you need a “win” that day, while other days you may revel in winning a more difficult challenge.

Mowing the lawn

For me, this chore is simply a counting game but for others creating a work of lawn art may be a more ambitious, creative option.

The simplest game I play is guessing the number of rows I need to mow before I reach an object like a tree, drain or flowerbed which requires a course change.  If I am feeling bold, I may even guess how many rows the entire backyard will take, allowing for two guess adjustments before I reach the halfway point.  (Yes, I have thought about this way too much, but the rules I come up with need to be creative and logical to make the game worth playing).  If I gave myself a single guess the game would be over immediately other than the monotony of counting rows.  By giving myself guess adjustments I keep my mind in the game as I am continuously reassessing my row overlap, pattern and remaining distance while still counting each row.

To create lawn art you will need to think of your lawn like a giant Etch-A-Sketch, planning out your image, realistic or abstract from the beginning.  If I am feeling creative I end up with a different mowing pattern than rows or diagonals, but based on my childhood experiences with the Etch-A-Sketch, I think it is best for me to stick with patterns rather than attempt an actual picture.  If you do play this version of the game, I would love to see a picture.

Using these games keeps my mind focused on the task at hand.  Without the games, my mind wanders to worries and to do items putting me in an anxious mood when the task is complete.  There is plenty of time in the day for worries and other tasks, so taking this break and playing the game relaxes me.  Sure, the pressure is on to beat that coffee maker to the finish, but we could all use a little challenge to keep ourselves sharp.  Who knows, perhaps the portrait of your dog that you have expertly mowed into the front lawn will be the hit of the neighborhood!

These are just two of the regular chores I have turned into games.  What ideas do you have for making your chores more entertaining.

This exercise helps with: Creative Thinking, Creative Solutions, Problem Solving, Logic

Getting to the “Trying” Stage

10 Inspirational Quotes about Trying

Lately I feel as if I am in the preparation stage of all my projects and just cannot cross the line to the “doing” stage.  I searched out some inspirational quotes to push myself to try and not just watch from the sidelines.  I hope these help you, too.

“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”  – Alexander the Great

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”  – Thomas A. Edison

“Move out of your comfort zone.  You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”  – Brian Tracy

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  – Jack Canfield

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.”  – Stephen Kaggwa

“Try, try, try, and keep on trying is the rule that must be followed to become an expert in anything.”  W. Clement Stone

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”  – Unknown Author

“Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try.”  – Mary Kay Ash

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”  – Beverly Sills

And finally, my new mantra,

“I try. I am trying. I was trying. I will try. I shall in the meantime try. I sometimes have tried. I shall still by that time be trying.”  – Diane Glancy

Creative Exercise: Building Creative Stamina

runner-557130_1280

Motivating myself to pursue creative passions and projects after a long day of non-creative work can be a struggle.  The feelings go hand in hand with my desire to exercise, which is probably why so many people suggest exercising before you start your day rather than when you are mentally exhausted after work.  This led me to thinking about the number of author interviews I have read where they reveal that before doing anything, except perhaps making coffee, they start their day writing.  No e-mails. No finances. No news. Nothing!

With a number of daily responsibilities for both home and work, sometimes starting my day for myself is simply not possible.  No matter how much I try to set aside an hour first thing in the morning for writing or other creative endeavors, sometimes life gets in the way.

What I need is a way to keep that creative energy up throughout the day, or at least put it on reserve, so I can be inspired and energized once my work, chores and treasured family time has been safely tucked into bed for the night.

I amassed a list of activities that can be done throughout the day or during specific activities on weekdays and weekends.  I will present my creative exercises, and even some from my readers, in regular weekly post to build creative muscles and strengthen creative stamina.  If you have any exercises you use to build your creative muscles, please let me know if the comments below.

This week we will start off with a fairly easy one to get you going.

Reading

Reading is one of my favorite creative exercises.  Not the type of reading I do for pleasure, this is a more active form of this pastime that I use to enhance my imagination.

I set aside time each day to read.  It doesn’t need to be for long, even fifteen minutes can be effective, but ideally you should choose a highly descriptive section of a book.  If you are an author, step away from analyzing the characters, plot, structure and style, and simply absorb the words.  Let the characters and locations come alive in your mind.  Visualize the characters’ features and clothing adding what you think the author may have missed.  Explore the location described in the passage and expand to areas outside of the authors words.

If the character is in a room, explore the tables, cabinets and bookshelves for items even the author did not mention.  Feel the plush carpet or hard wood floor.  Run your hands through the soft fur of the purring cat and spilled coffee on the table that left a sticky residue on the table.  Hear the birds and wind rustling through the leaves just outside an open window.  You can do the same with any location.  Let your senses run free.

If you are so inclined, leave the characters and current location behind and head off to explore the author’s world on your own.  You are creative, you don’t need the author holding your hand.

When you return to practicing your own creative endeavors, remember this experience.  You can then reverse engineer your experience for your own work by imagining in detail before your hand begins to sketch or type the words on the screen.  Who knows maybe that slightest detail of you painting, the smallest feature in your sculpture or a passing description in your novel will make all the difference in the end.

This exercise helps with: Imagination, Visualization, Description