Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is boring. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do.Ray Bradbury
This last creativity challenge calendar is your toughest. But if you get through this one, you just might find out some new things about yourself and what you want to create. Sometimes you need to step away from what you think you should be doing to actually find out what your soul is calling you to do.
First up, as I mentioned last month, you’ll be increasing your daily reading to 20 pages. If you think that’s too hard, let me break it down. I selected a couple of non-fiction books and a couple of different fiction books and timed myself while reading the first 20 pages.
Non-fiction for me took an average of between 30 to 45 minutes depending on the subject and fiction took about 16 to 20 minutes. I think if I was really into the subjects in the non-fiction books I might have read them a little faster. As it was, I just grabbed a couple of books and did the experiment and I got distracted a couple of times. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology was never one of my favorite reads.
There are just two creativity prompts this month but they fit into the theme. Both came from a practice of creating first lines. Just first lines. Both of which tie into the big exercise for the month, the 100. I’ve written about this previously in How to Work Around a Creative Block.
The idea here is to create 100 of something. In the post, the blogger who shared it was an artist and in a college art class, she was told to create 100 sculptures in a week. Just a week. It’s not like she only had this one art class to complete. She still had other classes and all the work that comes from those classes. In the end, she was only able to accomplish about 90.
But what’s the point of an exercise like this? We all get caught up in producing that one thing. And we all get caught up in creating something we think we should be doing. This exercise takes all of that away and strips it down to just quantity. Quantity over quality.
You’re not looking for the perfect piece. Instead, you’re looking for patterns. If you’re an artist, then create 100 smaller versions of what you normally do. She was a sculptor who normally creates sculptures that were over 4 feet tall. For this exercise, she created palm-sized sculptures.
If you’re a writer, then create 100 opening paragraphs, 100 short, short, short stories, or 100 overviews of blog posts, short stories, novels, articles, etc. If you’re a poet, create 100 short poems, first stanzas, etc.
If this is too large for you to wrap your arms around, then create 100 first lines. We’re not looking for perfect first lines. We are actually going for quantity over quality. Don’t look back. Just create.
And this is key. Don’t worry if what you’re creating veers away from what you normally create. That’s ok. Again, don’t analyze it, just do it. If you’re a poet and start writing down non-fiction intros, just go with the flow. If you’re a watercolorist who usually paints wildflowers and all of a sudden starts painting cars, that’s ok too. Remember to go with the flow and just create 100.
You get a week to do it in, so break 100 down by 7 days. That’s at least 14 per day. And since you don’t have all day to do it, you don’t have time to perfect it. Just write or paint or draw, or embroider, or take a picture of something.
When you’re done with the first one, then put it aside and create a new one. No time to look at it or analyze it. Just create and keep going, otherwise, you might not hit the deadline. In the following week, we’ll look at everything.
(You might think that upping your reading to 20 pages a day makes it impossible to do 100 of anything. All I have to say about that is, that it’s not true. See above for the amount of time reading 20 pages per day averages out to be. If you read slower than me, then pick your favorite subject. And when did I ever say that you should be the one who is doing the reading? Audiobooks count, too.)
Once that week of creating is over, it’s time to look at what you created. It’s review week. Again, we’re not looking for perfection, we’re looking for patterns. Put like things together. For instance, if you’re an artist, what did you create? Put all like subjects together. If you’re a writer, what themes do you have going? What styles?
For our sculptor above, she found sea creatures. Something she never created in her art before. But by having to create so many at once, she let go of expectations and found what her soul wanted to create. That’s what I want you to look for.
Maybe you have a theme you always write about but in looking at the 100 pieces you created this week, you found something different. Something worth exploring.
I hope you find this challenge intriguing and I would love to hear what you found after the 100.