Creativity: Getting Thru an Imaginative Dry Spell

Has the well of your imagination run dry?  Have your muses abandoned you to wallow in writerís block?  Does a blank canvas suddenly look to you like a gaping maw of lost and uninspired ideas ready to swallow you whole, instead of the conduit of creativity itís supposed to be?

A dry spell is quite normal and happens to the best of us.  But there is hope, and soon your gray matter will churn out those creative juices where once they trickled out in agonizingly tiny droplets. 

Your brain is the birthplace of creativity, and like muscles in the body, it needs exercise.  Read a book, solve a crossword puzzle, engage in a healthy debate.  Avoid potentially mind-numbing activities like staying glued to your TV set for long stretches of time.  While an hour or two of CNN and National Geographic is relatively safe, even encouraged, youíll know youíre overdoing it when your body has left an indelible print upon your couch. 

Again, read, read, and read some more.  Books can get that thing between your ears flexing in a way television canít.  There are countless ideas to be born from reading, and itís not just from books that these may be acquired.  Devour newspapers, magazines, websites, and brochures.  If itís got letters and words, read it. 

And you might want to listen to some classical music while youíre at it.  I recommend Bach and Mozart.  Although science has yet to prove classical musicís beneficial effects on the human brain and learning, it wouldnít hurt to soothe your auditory nerves with a symphony or two.  This sure beats the noise that is the daily grind of modern life anytime. 

A good alternative to classical music is absolute silence.  Find a quiet spot where you can be alone and free from distractions.  Have pen and paper at the ready to draw or jot down whatever comes to your mind.  Be observant.  Ideas can come even when youíre stuck in traffic.  Watch people go about their respective business.  The simplest actions you witnessódaring rollerblading youths dodging vehicles or an old lady crossing the streetómay in fact develop into this next novel or that next painting, a winning product tagline or even a song!

If you find yourself alone and indoors, and people-watching is not an option, flip through a dictionary or thesaurus with your eyes closed.  Trace your finger down a page.  Build upon whatever word your finger selects for you.  Use that word as a theme.  If you come across ďbubble,Ē try and write a poem or story around that, or draw something relevant to it.  You could likewise cut a sheet of paper into small squares and write random trigger words and phrases on each.  Fold them up and toss them in a bowl.  Pick one out and work your way from there.  Time yourself if youíd like so itís more challenging. 

You can also do the same with pictures cut out from magazines and newspapers.  What does a certain image tell you?  What does it evoke or set off in your mind?  If you must write, do not edit yourself.  Pour your heart out until you think thereís nothing left to say, and only then should you go back to the beginning for rewrites and restructuring. 

If originality is elusive at the moment, try writing a story using existing characters from your favorite book or movie.  If itís a drama, remold it into a comedy or vice versa.  Need we say the possibilities are limitless? 

Keep a journal.  Itís a great place to record your thoughts and doodles.  Paste photos and cutouts in it.  Just let loose and do with it as you please.  Soon enough youíll have a veritable treasure trove of artwork within its pages.

Lastly, share your work.  The only thing worse than being in a creativity rut is keeping your art to yourself for fear of what others may think.  Scour the Net for like-minded individuals.  There are countless websites and online communities that foster creativity.  Start your own group if you like.  Be open to constructive criticism.  Feedback or other peopleís input can actually help you improve on your weak spots and reaffirm your strengths.

When you stop and think about it, there really is no excuse not to be creative, even to a small degree.  Ideas are everywhere.  Itís just a matter of learning how to rein them in.  And though a dry spell may be normal, itís good to know a creativity surge could just as well be commonplace.

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