Writerly Play Activity Collection: Finding Your Artist’s Heart

Writerly Play Activity Collection: Finding Your Artist’s Heart

How do you create meaningful work?

Putting our hearts on the page sounds simple, but it is one of the most difficult tasks artists face. In order to make powerful work, we must brave vulnerability and ask ourselves tough questions.

After a lifetime of improv, I’ve learned the best way into tricky emotional spaces often involves playing a game. Where I might craftily evade a pointed question, or truly believe I don’t know the answer, a playful approach can surprise the truth right out of me. Now, before you worry that I’m asking you to hop onto a stage under bright lights, let me assure you that game, in this case, is a loosely defined word. To awake your intuition, all a game requires is a clear goal and a bit of a challenge.

The art of finding our artist’s heart is one of the cornerstone skills developed in the Writerly Play Attic.

The Writerly Play Attic, like the other Writerly Play rooms, is designed to help creatives separate their thinking into distinct steps. By knowing the purpose of a thinking task, we can utilize activities toward stronger results.

Here is a collection of Writerly Play activities, designed to help you find your artist’s heart.

Choose the activity that best fits your creativity style. Not sure what your style is? Take the quick quiz and find out.

ACTIVITIES

Freewrite Your Heart

FOR INVENTORS

Move your hand across the page speedily to bypass your critic and discover your heart.

Try This

Zoom In On the Heart

FOR ARCHITECTS

Answer three key questions to focus your attention on the core of this project, and its importance to you.

Try This

Frame Your Heart in Three

FOR SPECIAL AGENTS

Choose three adjectives that focus your attention on the core of this project, and its importance to you.

Try This

Share Your Heart with a Loved One

FOR COLLABORATORS

Choose a confidant and write a letter about your project. What is most important to you about creating this artwork?

Try This

Writerly Play Activity Collection: How To Find Your Dream Mentor

Writerly Play Activity Collection: How To Find Your Dream Mentor

Do you have unexplored creative potential?

A mentor can help you identify and explore new territory.

When people ask me about the value of grad school, I always say that working with mentors saved me years of trial and error. In-person mentors are invaluable, and if you have the opportunity to work with one, I say go for it!

There is also much to gain from mentoring with master artists and thinkers who may not be accessable without a time machine or millions of dollars. Books, podcasts, videos, online courses … in this information age, we have a vast landscape to explore. So vast, that sometimes it’s overwhelming. That’s why I put together a collection of activities for thinkers of all varieties, all focused on choosing the best expert mentor for YOU.

Mentoring with master artists and thinkers is one of the core skills developed in the Writerly Play Library.

The Writerly Play Library, like the other Writerly Play rooms, is designed to help creatives separate their thinking into distinct steps. By knowing the purpose of a thinking task, we can make any activity more productive and achieve stronger results.

Here is a collection of Writerly Play activities designed to help you choose your dream mentor.

Choose the activity that best fits your creativity style. Not sure what your style is? Take the quick quiz and find out.

Activities

Profile Three Experts

FOR ARCHITECTS

Use insight from three experts to lead you to the perfect-fit mentor.

Try This

Choose One Expert

FOR SPECIAL AGENTS

Focus on one expert in this strategic learning exercise.

Try This

Create a Learner's Book Club

FOR COLLABORATORS

Explore what’s important to you in your idea by digging deep with a friend.

Try This

Assemble a Think Tank of Mentors

FOR INVENTORS

Identify one-of-a-kind insights by connecting wisdom from an eclectic group of experts.

Try This

Writerly Play Activity Collection: Questions Can Give You More Creative Answers

Writerly Play Activity Collection: Questions Can Give You More Creative Answers

Why ask better questions?

Better questions can give you more creative answers.

It’s easy to rush straight past a question and snatch the first answer we can find. Questions create tension. What will we discover? Will we have to make a choice? If so, will we make the right one? Answers provide relief. However, when we ask the wrong questions, we end up with the wrong answers. Asking better questions is an art, and one of the primary tools artists can use to improve their craft.

The art of asking questions is one of the cornerstone skills developed in the Writerly Play Attic.

The Writerly Play Attic, like the other Writerly Play rooms, is designed to help creatives separate their thinking into distinct steps. By knowing the purpose of a thinking task, we can utilize activities toward stronger results.

Here is a collection of Writerly Play activities, designed to help you craft strong questions.

Remember: better questions can give you more creative answers. Choose the activity that best fits your creativity style. Not sure what your style is? Take the quick quiz and find out.

ACTIVITIES

Question Starters

FOR ARCHITECTS

Explore your connection with your idea with a series of question starters.

Try This

What If ... ? Game

FOR INVENTORS

Use this classic question to explore the possibilities in your idea.

Try This

Importance Interview

FOR COLLABORATORS

Explore what’s important to you in your idea by digging deep with a friend.

Try This

The Question Bullseye

FOR SPECIAL AGENTS

Clarify your project by exploring what’s central in the idea for you.

Try This

Choreograph a Happy Dance

Visit the Writerly Play Studio and play your way into creative discoveries. Never heard of the WP Studio? Learn how Writerly Play thinking strategies supercharge your creativity here.

No one can stay in a funk when they turn on a happy song and dance. When you need a creative kick-start or have a happiness SOS moment, you don’t want to have to come up with a solution on the spot. Preparation is key! That’s why taking some time to choreograph your own happy dance is such an excellent creativity-boosting strategy.

When you’re designing your dance, you’ll have a blast of fresh energy that comes from thinking with a different part of your mind. Chances are, choreography isn’t one of your daily tasks, so the process will feel novel and will likely remind you of being a kid. After you’ve designed your dance, you will have a solution in your back pocket anytime you feel your energy lagging.

Try This:

  1. Choose a favorite song.
  2. Clear some space to move.
  3. Turn on your song. Experiment with different steps as you listen.
  4. Go through the song piece by piece, adding movement. Simple movement is perfectly fine. Remember, this is a happy dance! You’re supposed to have fun with it.

Hints:

  • Big movement tends to be more fun than small movement.
  • Repeat patterns to keep things simple.
  • Listen to the words for inspiration. Many words or phrases provide excellent ideas for simple gestures.
  • If you have kids, make your dance together! Your happy dance can be a gloom-buster for the whole family.

 

Change Up Your Route

Visit the Writerly Play Attic to collect experiences and sensory detail to bring your creative work to life. Never heard of the WP Attic? Learn how Writerly Play thinking strategies supercharge your creativity here.

 

As many as 45% of our daily choices are driven by habit. What does this mean when it comes to developing characters?
 
  1. We need to know what they do every day.
  2. We need to know what circumstances might alter their routine.
  3. We need to know what impact “waking up” might have on their personality.

It’s easy to assign habits to characters unthinkingly.

Without intending to, we give our characters actions, thoughts or habits that actually are our own. What do you pay attention to when you go for a walk? Do you notice every leaf blower, and find detours to avoid them because the dust makes you sneeze?  Do you cross the street to say hello to every dog you see because you simply can’t resist?
 
You might find that these same habits show up in your characters. That’s okay, of course. Every character a writer creates is somehow woven out of his or her experience. However, sometimes we let these assumptions slip through unchecked. Or worse, we might create characters who walk in their neighborhoods without noticing anything at all. We’re so busy driving toward our next plot point that we allow our characters to be bland. They don’t have little quirks or pet peeves. They’re too busy saving the world to have a favorite snack or secret obsession, such as perfecting their cartwheel.
 
The best way to shake up our thinking is to start paying attention to our own habits. When we see the many small choices we make every day without even noticing, we can start to think about how our characters might choose differently.
 

Try This: Change up your Route

Is there somewhere you go weekly, or even daily? What if you took a different route? The fresh scenery might help you to notice what captures your attention. What do you see, smell, and hear? Take the time to notice, and as you do, also consider your character. Would he or she notice the same things? Something different? Would his or her reaction resemble yours, or would he or she feel differently than you feel about leaf blowers or dogs?
 
Try it out and then come on back and share what you notice. I’d love to hear how this strategy works for you. You can also connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

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