3 Relaxing Ways to Kickstart Your Creativity
Picture yourself getting ready for a writing session: fixing up your drink of choice and maybe some snacks, getting out all your notes and opening your files, reminiscing on the great ideas you had last night while you were trying to fall asleep or this morning when you were in the shower. You’re excited. But then your fingers hover over the keys and…nothing. Those notes you scribbled down in between emails at work don’t seem to be going anywhere. So what do you do? Over the last year, I’ve curated some tricks and tips for kickstarting my own creativity, including online writing prompts and story dice. But I’ve found inspiration in some unexpected places, too. In this post I’ll tell you about the creativity tools I use and how I use them, in hopes that these ideas will come in handy for you, too.
1. Word Games
One of the biggest benefits of word games is how they keep our minds sharp, but have you ever thought about how they can contribute to your creative process? Engaging with word games can broaden your vocabulary and give you opportunities to use words in new and unexpected ways.
Scrabble was one of the first games I fell in love with as a kid. I used to play it all the time with my mom and brother, who both beat me soundly every time. I didn’t really care, because what I really enjoyed was seeing what great words I could come up with. Now I use the Scrabble Go app, available on iOS and Android, to combine my love of words with the opportunity to hone my strategy.
How I use it: When I’ve played a round that produces particularly lovely vocabulary, I save a screenshot for later. Even during gameplay, I’m constantly thinking not only about how best to use my letters, but what kinds of sentences I can create with the words on the board. I put the words in the context of my story and imagine scenarios in which my characters might use them, which makes for some truly unique word combinations and descriptions.
It’s important not to wait too long between playing the round and using the board as inspiration to write; I can’t tell you how many screenshots I’ve subsequently deleted because I forgot what I wanted to do with the words. I’d advise you to use this as a writing warm-up so any ideas that form during the game stay fresh when you’re ready to write.
2. Coloring Books
In order to get my brain working for a writing session, sometimes I have to let it shut down first. There’s something about focusing on something other than my story that takes away the pressure and, if I use my time wisely, I can quickly get back to putting words on the page. As you probably know, coloring books for adults have become increasingly popular over the past ten years or so, largely for their meditative advantages. Since you don’t have to focus too much on what the drawing looks like, you can put the time to good use mulling over any ideas that need fleshing out. The process can also help spice up your descriptions because you’re in control, at least partly, of the overall aesthetic. When you sit down to write, ask yourself questions about the aesthetic of your writing: What color is the dress your main character is wearing? Where are your characters located in relation to each other? Does the scene do enough to pull your reader in and help them envision something similar to what you see?
How I use it: I like to listen to music when I color, which is especially effective in kickstarting creativity when I use the playlists I’ve set up for my work-in-progress. The music gives my writer brain something to ruminate on, and the coloring keeps my hands busy so I don’t get too distracted from any ideas that come up. Look for coloring books whose images remind you of the story you’re working on now, or something completely unrelated that just gives you space to think, like a book of mandalas.
If you’re not into the idea of coloring in a physical coloring book, there are plenty of virtual coloring options, too. I use Pixel Art for Android, and I have a friend who likes an app called Happy Color. There’s less freedom to choose the colors in these apps, but the benefit to my creativity has remained.
3. Video Games
Okay, stay with me here, because I know many of us probably have experience with how counterproductive video games can be to our writing processes. The principle is similar to that of using coloring books: to let your brain focus on something other than writing so you don’t get bogged down by the pressure to produce. The key is time management, especially if you’re into the same types of games I am. Set a time goal or stay close to a save point so that, when a great idea strikes, you won’t be so busy with the game that you can’t – or don’t want to – step away to write.
How I use it: I’m about to publicly admit one of my guilty pleasures here, but I’ve gotten back into World of Warcraft in the past couple of years. The lore and gameplay are vastly different from my own writing style, but I’ve only found that helpful for my writing. I can be a pretty concrete thinker, so immersing myself in a world of such high fantasy helps me think outside the box. Just like with coloring books, I often listen to music while I play and, as long as I’m in a safe place, I can switch tabs and spend some time writing – or at least jotting down a few ideas. In the right conditions, this can work with basically any video game you like. Just make sure to keep something handy for getting those ideas down!
I hope you’ve found at least one suggestion in this post that will help you kickstart your creativity for future writing sessions! I’d love to hear what you tried and how it worked for you, as well as any other ideas you have for getting those creative juices flowing. Until then, happy writing!