Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 43

The Red Wheelbarrow

This is the forty-third installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

William Carlos Williams was both a modernist and imagist poet. Imagism called for precise imagery and direct, clear language. By focusing on one single image and describing it with “luminous details” as imagist poet, Ezra Pound, called them, the reader can experience the image’s essence. “The Red Wheelbarrow” is one of Williams’ most famous imagist poems:

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon 

a red wheel
barrow
 
glazed with rain
water 

beside the white
chickens.

With a phrase like “so much depends upon,” the reader is left to fill in the blanks. Williams’ success is not only what he chose as his “luminous details,” but also that he picked an everyday object that, for most people, has many uses, connotations, and memories packed into it.

In this week’s exercise, you will also describe some everyday objects that have been lying around your house or your backyard, and choose one packed with the most meaning to create a poem modeled after Williams’. Your creative play will be the “luminous details” you choose.

Your Turn!

  1. Choose five tangible items from your home or wherever you are doing this writing exercise. Observe them closely. In writing, describe each briefly. 
  1. Choose one item from your list and write a poem based exactly on “The Red Wheelbarrow,” by coping the lines "so much depends/ upon" and keeping the line and stanza lengths. Fill in the rest with your description of the object you chose.  
  1. “Red,” “glazed with rain water,” and “beside the chickens” were the only three details Williams included. Your poem need not have more than three descriptive details, and they can be just as simple. Notice that Williams chose a color, a visual detail about its texture, and what the item is juxtaposed next to. Feel free to use these categories to guide you if you are stumped.
How did you do? Did the “luminous details” you chose, in fact, shine? Did following a model, in terms of phrases and line/stanza lengths help you focus on and isolate a few simple, yet, powerful details? Were you able to pack enough connotation into the particular object you chose?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!

Source: Inspired by teacher Stacy Chestnut’s exercise from her creative writing class at East High School, Wichita, KS, September 2017.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 42

Symbols from the Past

This is the forty-second installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

In this week’s exercise, you will write about a symbolic object from your past for symbolic audiences. You will use the physicality of an actual object as a prompt to recall an experience in your past. Then, you will retell the story to various audiences, because the implied presence of others will affect your thoughts and ultimately, writing. This activity might yield different styles and voices than you’re used to – it’s creative play! And linking symbols to the past can clarify the experience’s meaning – an added bonus!

Your Turn!

  1. On your desk, put a physical item that is a symbol from your past. It should be something you naturally associate with a certain event (letter, clothing, picture, toy). 
  1. Freewrite for 5 minutes about that time. How did it affect you in the past and how does it continue to influence you now? 
  1. Now write for 5 minutes about that same general time, but for a different audience.  Choose an authority figure, someone you have a formal relationship with, but who was not in that story (judge, boss, FBI agent, parent). Explain to him/her this event. What were your thoughts and feelings then and now?
  1. Finally, write for 5 minutes imagining you will share the story with a close and compassionate friend. This friend should also not be connected in any way to this event.
  1. Now analyze how the stories are different.
How did you do? Did you feel different as you were writing them? Did some writing feel more genuine than others? Did one give you a new perspective on your experience?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!


Source: Inspired by Pennebaker, James W. and John E. Evans. “Writing in Different Contexts,” Expressive Writing: Words that Heal. Emunclaw, WA: Idyll Arbor, Inc., 2014, p. 87-92.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 41

“Why Did You Decide To Get Married, Buy a House, and Have Two Kids?”

This is the forty-first installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

Anytime we don’t follow social norms, we end having to justify ourselves repeatedly to curious people. People are always asking one another about the out-of-the-box choices they’ve made. We never ask people who have followed the status quo questions like, “Why did you decide to get married, buy a house, and have two kids?” But as soon as we do something out of the norm, we end up having to explain it to others our whole lives. In fact, you might already be bored of telling your out-of-the-box story, but I am sure you have it memorized as a schpeel you tell those who ask. For this week’s exercise, we’ll use your memorized script as a jumping off point for fresher storytelling.

Your Turn!

  1. Choose an out-of-the-box thing about yourself that people are always asking you to explain. 
  1. Tell this story in paragraph form (prose) in the third person (she/he not I/me) as if you are explaining yourself as this other person you know.
  1. Think of 4-6 different possible titles for this story. 
  1. Choose the most compelling title and write it at the top of a blank page.
  1. From this title, tell another story. Give yourself permission to have it be about something totally other than your out-of-the-box story, as long as it still fits the title. This time, write in the first person (I/me) even though it’s no longer about you. 
How did you do? Did writing your own story in the third person give you any insights or unexpected emotions about the choice you made or the situation you found yourself in? Did the title you chose inspire an interesting new story, and did it feel refreshing to break free from the rehearsed story to telling something totally different? Did changing the person from third to first again help trigger a fresher voice for storytelling?


To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 40

What is Your Design Tendency?

This is the fortieth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

For this week’s exercise, we’ll keep it simple and give you something creatively playful you can do anywhere anytime. Yet, the self-knowledge you glean from this quick exercise might inform you of your artistic leanings, which you can choose to abandon or embrace in future creative projects!

Your Turn!

  1. Take a pile of things from your pocket and arrange them on the table till they’re aesthetically pleasing to you.
  1. Then reflect on your design tendency. Did you go for symmetry? Chaos? Color? Lines? Patterns? Big? Small? Functional? Shocking?
How did you do? Did you learn something about your artistic leanings? Is this a tendency you can further embrace by intentionally using it to guide you in future creative work? Or would it benefit you to experiment with abandoning this tendency, and go for the opposite?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing! 

 Source: inspired by the workshop, “Body Language: Exploring Your Secondary Intelligence,” taught at The Hugo House by Jill Leininger and Ilvs Strass on 8/13/17.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 39

Renaming Familiar Tales

This is the thirty-ninth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

Writing prompts are aplenty in how-to-unleash-your-creativity books, and with the Internet, it is so easy to quickly snag a prompt. But there is still something difficult about reading a prompt and then staring at a blank page.  That is why my site aims to engage in creative play, doing something a little out-of-the-box or multi-modal, in order to bypass any intimidation that might come from staring at an empty piece of paper.

This week’s exercise has you design the writing prompt yourself by visiting old familiar tales, and it adds a physical element – taking books off a shelf, slapping sticky notes on them, opening to first pages- in hopes that, by engaging yourself in these different ways, the writing will come more easily.

Your Turn!

  1. Go to your bookshelf and pull out 3-4 books you’ve read. 
  1. On sticky notes, write a new title for each book related to its theme (ie, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Entrenched Racism; O Pioneers! – Unforgiving Land; The Joy Luck Club – Mothers Revising their Lives through their Daughters). Slap these sticky notes onto each book. 
  1. Choose one of these invented titles and stick it at the top of a piece of paper. 
  1. As quickly as you can, think of personal connections – a situations or events from your life- and list them on the paper. 
  1. Open the book from which the title came. Copy down the first three words of the first sentence. Begin telling your story from here.
How did you do? Did you feel released from over-thinking when slapping new titles onto old books? Were you able to list 2-3 personal connections to the titles? Did having the first three words written already give you a good jumping off point for your story?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!