Inside each of us is a deep well of creative energy, and writing is one way to pump this creativity to the surface. For example, we can use writing prompts to give our imagination a workout, for fun, or as exercises to warm up to our intended writing tasks. Once ideas begin to flow, they will flow in any direction we guide them. All we have to do is sculpt the paths along which they run. And the more we write — in other words, the more we practice writing — the better at creativity and writing we become.
Our minds are wonderfully associative, our thoughts moving from one thing to the next related thing, until they arrive at stopping points that we might recognize as distinct thoughts. But really, our thought processes run something like this:
I notice a red sign over a restaurant, which makes me think about how fast food restaurants use bright colors — orange and red and yellow — to move people in and out quickly, while restaurants that cater to long, luxurious dinners are decorate in muted colors — cool blues and greens and earth tones. I wonder how much of our lives we are unconsciously responding to color, whether it’s moving quickly or stopping to rest; why I almost never wear red, because I don’t like to stand out in the crowd and how I once wore red all the time, knowing that it looked good on me; why I stopped wearing red. My closet holds mostly blacks, whites, browns, creams, and a few golds, greens, blues, and yellows. When did I become so practical, so muted? At the same time, I have become more comfortable with myself, more vocal in other ways. Could it be that as I have become more comfortable with myself, I’ve also become more comfortable with fading into the background? Perhaps I should go buy something red. Or orange. Orange is a good color …
All the while this is going on, I may not even be conscious of my thoughts, only that I have suddenly decided that I need to buy a red blouse or purse and that it has something to do with standing out more.
Writing allows us to not only follow and be more aware of these thought processes, but to creatively and playfully steer them where we want them to go. Creativity, after all, is closely related to play (just watch any child playing for a while).
The image at the top of this blog is a good example of playing with new ideas. The original image was a photo of some cacti, monochromatic and boring. It was in my “not sure what to do with this” folder. But, copied into Photoshop and combined playfully with some different effects (it’s like finger painting, only without the mess), I discovered a beauty and symmetry in the cacti that I had previously missed.
Similarly, writing and play work together to bring new ideas and new ways of expressing yourself to the surface. Just keep playing!