‘Out Of The Box’ Activities to Generate Creative Ideas

Sep 24, 2021 | Advice

I am not an endless well of creativity. I know this. Or at least, I tell myself that I know this. But I still trawl through listings, competitions, pitches and the like, making note of them, putting them on my Google spreadsheet (I have lots, ok?) and imagining that I will sit at my desk on a Monday morning and ideas will flow from me like water, perhaps, or at least golden syrup. You know, oozy, but it gets there in the end.

Yet there I was, Monday morning, seething with frustration that of all my lovely places to send things, I didn’t have one idea. Not a one. No pithy lifestyle piece, no 50-word pitch for a running app, no inspired piece about women and writing. Shocker. It was as if I thought the ideas were just there, seeping into me, while I wobbled around on bikes and ate chips at the weekend.

So what did I do? Nothing. I sat there, and got annoyed. Had some more coffee. If you don’t write, I’m sure you can equate this to some other moment where you need inspiration /motivation/spiritual guidance to lift you, effortlessly, into producing something marvellous.

I did get creative with pine cones and lots of paint at the weekend…

In fairness, it wasn’t a completely wasted day. I spent most of it swearing at my computer while updating my website with all the shiny new ebooks and courses and workshops (you like?). And that’s been topping the to-do list for a while now. But it was still a sort of stagnant, blah kind of day.

Today, I tried something a little different. After watching a video from Anyways who do loads of cool collaborative stuff (like this personality quiz about which creative type you are), I decided to do something different. I did have the inklings of an idea for said 50-word pitch and writing story, but they were more like cement than syrup. All too thick in coming out.

So I did something controversial. I got up and went outside. I went for a run. I put on my cat dress. More importantly, I sat down and drew out the idea in my head I had of my story with my toddler’s colouring pencils. There was a robot. A cave. There were agricultural skyscrapers. It was really fun.

The cat dress was a purchase for my 40th birthday. Good work, Finsbury Park charity shops.

In the words of Ellen from Anwyays, these are ‘Out Of The Box’ moments. Things you can do that seem completely unrelated to whatever problem you’re having. It might be about going and looking at something creative. We can actually go to art galleries now, people! Or taking a lil’ stroll. It reminded me that I haven’t done Adventure Thursdays (going to one place I’ve never been before, once a month) for ages. That I scribble away at morning pages but never go on the artist dates.

My pitch is sent, my story is nestled in first draft mode. I’ll let you know if either of them come to fruition. With any luck I’ll remember, next time, that the unusual way of looking at something might just be the best. Or, that if something isn’t working, leaving it the hell alone and painting a picture might help.

Other thoughts for ‘Out Of The Box’ moments include playing a computer game (it’s rare for me), learning a dance routine, trying something like Tai Chi. Any other suggestions? Give me your thoughts in the comments, and hope you find your own!

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