This is the forty-eighth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here.
In his book, Cartooning Philosophy and Practice, Ivan Brunetti leads budding cartoonists through a drawing exercise in which students are constrained by time limits. The exercise goes as follows. Fold a piece of paper into quarters. In the top left quarter, first draw a castle for two minutes; next, in the top right quarter, draw one for one minute; in the bottom left, draw one for 30 seconds; and in the bottom right, end by drawing a castle for 15 seconds.
Through this exercise, Brunetti shows that somehow, in each of these time constraints, one figures out how to fit what’s necessary into his/her drawing. He also demonstrates that a lot of thinking and planning ahead of time is not necessary or helpful. Whereas beginning artists might stare at a blank page with unlimited time feeling like they don’t know how to draw a castle, a ticking clock pushes them to do it without thinking (and discover they can!).
If you are a visual artist, this is a great exercise to try for your Curious Creative exercise this week. If you are a writer, you can adapt this activity to the written word by following the steps below.
- Choose a family photograph.
- Fold a piece of paper into quarters.
- Set your timer to 5 minutes. In the top left quarter, write a description of the photo for 5 minutes.
- In the top right quarter, describe the same photo in 2 minutes.
- In the bottom left, describe it in 30 seconds.
- In the bottom right quarter, describe the photo in 15 seconds.
How did you do? Were you able to keep your hand moving the whole time, without pausing too much to think? Did your descriptions, as they got shorter, narrow in on a certain aspect of the photo, such as a specific person, what people were thinking, or the emotional relationship(s) between family members? Did your final 15-second description consist of the most important “lines and shapes” of that photograph? In other words, did it boil down that moment to its essence?
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!
Inspired by: Ivan Brunetti’s Cartooning Philosophy and Practice (Yale University Press, 2011).