Did your creativity ever get stuck? Mine did for decades. Yet, during junior high, I thrived on creativity. My rundown school held a class-act art program. So, I crafted life-sized Sesame Street puppets, dyed Garfield pillows, and baked clay Barbie’s. I made a solar system with planets and moons crafted from Styrofoam strung together in a wooden contraption. My teacher entered it into a science fair, but it got rejected, as my weekly allowance from Papa was shy many moons.
That same yearthe year VHS caught onI directed a video for science class. I called the video The Wizard of Weathera spinoff of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote scripts and supervised students as they painted trees on giant cardboard dividers. When at last the video aired to a hushed classroom, I burst into tears. We recorded the video at twice the speed, sounding like munchkins of alien tongues.
A year prior, I took Home Economics, inspired by a love for sketching fashion. My teacher helped sew a blouse from materials Mom carefully chose. I wore that blouse until growth spurts dangled my wrists well-below the cuffs. But Mom angered when I asked for baking items. So, I’d ask last minute. The next day at school, I’d bake pizza with aged cheddar cheese, stewed tomatoes, and a sore butt. I enrolled in Industrial Arts thereafter.
Later in high school, I hit a speed bumpbreaking my love for art. Peer and home pressuresand tough luckunglued me. Instead of drawing and painting, I wrote songs. A decade passed before I dabbled back in art. Yet, recently, an art project piqued my passion. Now, I plan to build a tech-art installation for the Banff Center.
Noah Scalin teaches how to come unstuck in his book Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get and Keep Your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work & in Your Studio:
Students need to indulge in creativity when stuck on schoolwork.
If you fear the creative task, do it. Facing fear strengthens you.
Don’t fear being the fool. Creativity thrives on red-faces and rejection.
Don’t create a precious project. Preciousnessotherwise known as perfectionismstifles growth. Instead, make mistakes and plow forth.
Find creative inspiration outdoors. Why? Your four walls limit your scope. A world of novelty awaits outside the box you call home.
Get inspired by dull things. A paperclip has tons of artistic possibilities. Same with a nose ring.
Involve other people in your artand give them your art. Collaborate. Share. When you give, you get.
For a project to get unstuck, take a funny word like “toot” and turn it into an acronym. [For instance, if you have an essay that covers four themes, tweak the first-letters of each theme until the letters fit a funny acronym. Include letters ripe for comedy such as k, d, t, b, p, g]
Summarize a movie in less than 30 seconds. Then, make a 30 second video out of it. [And why not summarize your essay in less than thirty seconds? Make that summary a video, too. Bonus marks]
So, don’t get creatively stuck for decades. Preciousness makes for unfinished projects. So, face fears and make yourself a fool. A paradox? I call it a creative spark!