"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, April 4, 2011

Creativity Chips

Writers are always looking for creative tips and ways to clear writers block. Here are five exercises to help get your creative juices flowing.

1. Paint Chip Storytelling - In this writing activity, you use paint chip samples to write a story. Paint chip samples often have unique and interesting names such as Western Sand, Basket Weave and Mermaid Tear. These names make the perfect story-starters to inspire creative storytelling. You may already be picturing a California beach picnic interrupted by a crying mermaid.

All you need is pen and paper (or a computer) and a collection of paint chip color samples with interesting names (free at most paint and hardware stores – even Wal-Mart).
Now, pick a few paint chip color samples with interesting names that you can use for storytelling. To make it more interesting, you can even try to pick random samples without looking at the names.

Next, think about how you'd link the paint chip color names into a story. For example, I picked the five names of Heather, Skating Pond, Lavender Lipstick, Lovely Silken Ribbon, and Lucky Shamrock; then you need to think of a story that would use all of these words.
You can free write from these ideas or you can use them as a model from which to start; one paragraph incorporating each word. For example, the first paragraph could introduce a character “Heather”; Heather might visit a skating pond in paragraph two; she might lose her lavender lipstick in the third paragraph; in paragraph four Heather tells her friend about the lovely silken ribbon she kept tied to the tube of Lipstick; a friend offers Heather her lucky Shamrock and she finds the lipstick in the fifth paragraph. Remember to make sure the paragraphs link together as a story.
Once the story is finished, try reading the story aloud. Think about your use of descriptive language, new vocabulary, and assess the all-around creativity of your story.

2. Another exercise is to look through family and school photographs. Imagine the photo that was never taken. What does it look like? Who is in it? Who took the picture? Where and when was it taken? What does it reveal about the person/people in it?
3. Read a newspaper or magazine and free-write about something you find there. Why did this topic capture your attention? Who does it affect? What has changed for you or the other people in the story? What if this same topic had occurred 50 years ago?
4. Write a letter to an old lover. (Don’t send it!) Share your fondest memories of them. Tell them about any regrets you have. Imagine what it would be like if you ran in to them today. What would that conversation sound like?
5. Choose a stranger you see during the course of the day. Make up an event in that person’s life. How do they remember it? How has it affected them?
These are just five of many writing exercises you can use to crawl out of your creative slump. Good luck and Happy Writing!

28 comments:

mooderino said...

Thanks Sylvia, all very useful exercise.
regards
mood

allison said...

What a great idea! I've always loved (and laughed at...) some of the names for paint chips. I never thought of using them as a jumping off point!

- allison writes

Bish Denham said...

Fabulous idea! Who are those people who come up with those names for paint?

Rosalind Adam said...

I love that paint chip idea. I'm going to use that one at my next writing workshop and see what happens.

Robyn Campbell said...

Okay! How'd you get so smart?? :-) What a FABULOUS idea. You're cool, uh-huh! Hmmm, I homeschool and at our co-op in the fall, I'm going to use these to help my high schoolers understand the process. *check's in the mail* hehe

M.J. Fifield said...

That is such a great idea. It's the kind of idea that makes me wish I was still teaching. Thank you for sharing!


M.J. Fifield
My Pet Blog

Madeleine said...

Great post. I love the ideas here, I have had a go at 2 of them before (newspaper freewrite and the stranger) and I love the paint swatches idea very much.
Sorry to hear you are allergic to cats. We have a friend who has a pet allergy, but when she owns cats her symptoms eventually improve! :O)

Nate Wilson said...

Excellent ideas to kick-start your writing, especially that paint chip one. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), my problem isn't a dearth of ideas; it's not having enough time to fully explore the ideas I already have.

Nevertheless, I still do #5. Here's a tip: don't confront the stranger about the event afterward. Especially if they're wielding an umbrella.

Lauracea said...

Sylvia, thank you for commenting on my blog. What a fabulous post here. I love the tips and never thought about paint chips at all. I laughed out loud at your suggestion to write a letter to an ex-lover but don't send it! Mind you, if you do send it, it might make a good story (if you survive) :) Hey! I just got another idea - you DO send it by accident. That definitely has a great storyline. Off to think...

Jan Morrison said...

All fun ideas! I love the creativity of the paint chip one - I have often thought I'd like to be a colour namer...
Jan Morrison
thanks for coming by my spot!

E.J. Wesley said...

I'm not usually one for writing exercises, but I really dig the idea of using the paint cards. I think the colors and names could really stir something up!

Love your blog, and nice to meet you!

EJ

Paula Martin said...

Love the idea about paint chips - I'm going to try that one!
http://paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com/

Dawn Embers said...

Nicely done. One semester I had to get a bunch of the paint chips for an art class, 2d design. And I often find myself in that section whenever I am forced to go to one of the hardware/home-depot type stores. It's fun to see the variety of colors and the names given to them. I may have to try that exercise just for the fun of it.

Jen Daiker said...

I love a good exercise!!! It always helps me get out of my head and really use my imagination (if that makes sense)!!! Now I'm sure I just sound nuts!

I stopped in to welcome you to the A to Z challenge! As a co-host, should you need anything don't hesitate to ask!!! I do hope you'll stop by my neck of the woods to say hi! We're also having fun at twitter (I'm @jenunedted and we're at #atozchallenge)!

Melissa Bradley said...

These are awesome exercises and ones I'll be sure to try when my creativity seems to be stalling out.

MM the Queen of English said...

Great ideas Slyvia. I used paint chips in my English class on metaphors and similes. It was different and the kids liked it. If they couldn't think of anything for that chip, I let them choose another one.
The other ideas are great, too.

MM the Queen of English
queenofenglish.wordpress.com
PS: I'm also doing the A-Z Challenge and loving it.

Ally said...

Awesome post!! Really enjoyed reading
Ally

Claire Goverts said...

I love the paint chip storytelling, I'll have to try that one sometime. I have plenty of chips in the house with picking colors for painting. There are also virtual fan decks online, I've had fun with the one on the Benjamin Moore website.

Bluestocking Mum said...

I always read my work aloud. It definitely helps!

Good to make your acquaintance.

Best of luck with the A-Z challenge. I look forward to following your progress and writing.

warm wishes
Debbie

Caitlin said...

What a great idea! Next time I'm at the store I will be picking up some paint chips. Thanks for the tip!

Kari Marie said...

These are such fun ideas! Thanks for the creativity boost today!

Sarah Mäkelä said...

Very interesting idea with the paint chips! I could definitely see that working really well and being fun too.

Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

Wow! These are really awesome exercises! I'm already inspired by mermaid tears. And I'm also thinking about painting my kitchen...after I go through my old photo albums.

What to do? What to do?

Carrie said...

These are great exercises. I want to try the paint chip one. I love all the names they give to paint. I also love nail polish names so maybe I could do that sometime.

Sylvia Ney said...

Carrie - nail polish and other make-up are also great ways to find names to trigger our imaginations - great idea!

lkramer14 said...

I like these idea. They might be just what I need. Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Lisa said...

What a WONDERFUL idea. I'm going to rush out and pick up a bunch of paint sample sheets. You are AMAZING Sylvia.

Lisa

Randi said...

The paint chip idea is brilliant! When I was little, I used to look at the JC Penney catalog and turn to the pages with bedspreads, sheets, and curtains so I could see all the amazing color names they came up with. I never thought of using color names as a story-starter, but I will now!