Since most of us are home, and trying to stay sane, I thought I’d share a few techniques to keep creativity and your inner-child (and sometimes your REAL child) busy and thriving. These are not only fun, but they keep our brains sharp, so we can hit the ground running when they let us out. Being creative isn’t just about making stuff – it’s a state of mind. Here are some great games, techniques and tricks to get your brain ticking imaginatively…
Before we start….lower your expectations
When you do something creative that isn’t in your wheelhouse….or if you don’t HAVE a wheelhouse, there’s not the same pressure to be good at it. In short, being slightly or not so slightly crap at something is actually very liberating.. It might not win a prize but it will give you the creative equivalent of a good stretch.
DABBLE IN SURREALISM
The Surrealists – a thoroughly creative bunch of lads – used play to tap into the unconscious and get inspired. They came up with a bunch of strange techniques for doing this, but some are inspired! Here are a few:
Aerography: a technique in which a 3-dimensional object is used as a stencil with spraypainting.
Bulletism: shoot paint or ink at a blank piece of paper, then come up with images based on what is “seen.” Like an artistic Rorschach test!
Collage: assemble different forms creating a new whole. For example, an artistic collage work may include newspaper clippings, ribbons, bits of colored or hand-made papers, photographs, etc., glued to a solid support or canvas. Note—this is NOT a Vision board, but it CAN be based on one theme!
Cut-up technique: a literary form or method in which a text is cut up at random and rearranged to create a new text. Good practice for when you’re planning a kidnapping.
Frottage: a method of creation in which one takes a pencil or other drawing tool and makes a “rubbing” over a textured surface. Often done in a cemetery over old gravestones. What a happy thought! Also called “rubbings.”
Involuntary Sculpture: made by absent-mindedly manipulating something, such as rolling and unrolling a movie ticket, bending a paper clip, building something with your mashed potatoes…ok, I just added that one to see if you were paying attention.
ALTERNATIVE USES (Great brainstorming warmup exercise)
Pick an everyday object from the following (or think of your own): a pencil, a brick, a key, a chair, a newspaper, a tennis ball. Then write down as many other ways that you could use it as possible. A brick could be a weapon, a pencil could be a giant’s toothpick.
Psychologists talk about how creativity works in four stages: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. Incubation means allowing ideas to swill around your brain until they magically come together. It’s an essential part of the process – even though it feels like you’re not really doing very much. Put yourself in situations that encourage incubation. Go for a walk, take a shower or spend five minutes lying flat on the floor, letting your mind wander (my preferred method). Don’t do this while cooking. Trust me.
Riddles are mini-stories with crucial information missing. To figure out what’s happened you have to think laterally. An example: A man lies dead next to a feather. The answer: He was a sword swallower at a circus. While he was practicing, someone came along and tickled his throat with the feather, causing him to gag and stab himself in the throat. These are great warmups for brainstorming meetings.
Or, offer these to your Zoom happy hour peeps. For some reason most are about dead people. I don’t know why….
A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. In the evening, he gets into the elevator, and, if there is someone else in the elevator — or if it was raining that day — he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the tenth floor and walks up two flights of stairs to his apartment.
Answer: The man is a dwarf. He can’t reach the upper elevator buttons, but he can ask people to push them for him. He can also push them with his umbrella.
In the middle of the ocean is a yacht. Several corpses are floating in the water nearby.
Answer: Alternate Solution #1
A group of people were on an ocean voyage in a yacht. One day, they decided to go swimming — they put on their swimsuits and dove off the side. They discovered belatedly that they have forgotten to put a ladder down the side of the yacht and were unable to climb back in, so they drowned.
Alternate Solution #2
The same situation, but they set out a ladder that was just barely long enough. When they dove into the water, the boat, without their weight, rose slightly in the water, putting the ladder just out of reach.
A man is lying dead in a room. There is a large pile of gold and jewels on the floor, a chandelier attached to the ceiling, and a large open window.
Answer: The room is the ballroom of an ocean liner which sank some time ago. The man ran out of air while diving in the wreck.
A man and his wife raced through the streets. They stopped, and the husband got out of the car. When he came back, his wife was dead, and there was a stranger in the car.
Answer: The wife was about to have a baby. They drove to the hospital. The husband left to get a wheelchair, but the baby was born in the meantime, and the wife didn’t survive the birth
A body is discovered in a park in Chicago in the middle of summer. It has a fractured skull and many other broken bones, but the cause of death was hypothermia.
Answer: A poor peasant from somewhere in Europe desperately wants to come to the United States. Lacking money for airfare, he stows away in the landing gear compartment of a jet. He dies of hypothermia in mid-flight and falls out when the compartment opens as the plane makes its final approach. (Admittedly, this one is really reaching!)
A woman has incontrovertible proof in court that her husband was murdered by her sister. The judge declares, “This is the strangest case I’ve ever seen. Though it’s a cut-and-dried case, this woman cannot be punished.
Answer: The sisters are Siamese twins
A man walks into a bar and asks for a drink. The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at him. The man says, “Thank you,” and walks out.
Answer: The man has hiccups; the bartender scares them away by pulling a gun.
A hunter aimed his gun carefully and fired. Seconds later, he realized his mistake. Minutes later, he was dead.
Answer: It was winter. He fired the gun near a snowy cliff, which started an avalanche.
A man is returning from Switzerland by train. If he had been in a non-smoking car he would have died.
Answer: The man used to be blind — he’s returning from an eye operation which restored his sight. He spent all his money on the operation, so when the train (which had no internal lighting) goes through a tunnel, he thinks he’s gone blind again and decides to kill himself. But before he could do it, he saw the light of the cigarettes people were smoking and realized he could still see.
There are more, but this should hold you!
It’s important to keep our brains active while we’re forced to stay at home. Whether you’re working from home or NOT working…or something in between. These brain-work games and exercises will keep your mind quick and ready!