Taking yourself outside your creative box


My students often think I spend my days (and nights) formulating new ways to torture them. I tend to notice patterns in their work, point them out and then make them do the polar opposite.

“Bernard, you never use bright colors in your work. You are banned from muted tones for the next assignment – oh and while you’re at it make the next design super girly.

“Janine, you paint too precisely. You need to loosen up. No more brushes for you, only palette knives or finger painting from now on.”

These rules I set forth are usually met with gasps of horror; promises to change up their routine and lots of whining. But I am not deterred and usually offer up the following words of wisdom: “Stop whining and put your big girl (or boy) panties on and get to work.”

The fact is the work they are producing is usually very well done, if not excellent. But the lack of variety could put them in a creative box that may be hard to escape from down the road.

Albert Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I am guilty of all of the above as well – I have beloved typefaces that I repeatedly use, a fondness for structured design and a fear of making pottery.

If you’ve been writing the same way for a while and not achieving the success you desire, try adding some variety into your portfolio. Do you always write poetry? Try flash fiction. Prefer a serious narrative? Try writing humor.

It doesn’t matter what you try, all that matters is that you do try.  

Need some ideas? Check out our blog during the month of April – our publisher, Sue Walker, will be posting daily writing prompts in honor of National Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo.

As for me, I’m going to go put my big girl panties on and sign up for that pottery class.