The New York Times review of the book “Draw it With Your Eyes Closed” got me thinking about how writers can borrow, adapt and even steal ideas for how to boost creativity from the visual arts. Even though there are strict lines drawn in MFA classes, and very little cross-disciplinary pollination is encouraged, I wanted to share a few books that struck me as great teachers–whether you are a writer, painter, or a combination of both.
Draw it With Your Eyes Closed is 89 entries of art assignments by “MFA level” teachers curated by Paper Monument and N+1 Magazine. It made me think of other works that function in the same way by coming at creativity sideways. Almost like the famous David Winer quote, “Sometimes you have to sneak up on yourself to get something done.”
A sample prompt idea: “Draw a picture with your mind.”
Get Conceptual Inspiration
Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings by Yoko Ono
Conceptual drawings that have lost none of their brilliance since they were first published in 1967. She shows the malleability of the mind to sculpt thoughts, each of her happenings are playful but very sharp. A slight change in meaning, the way something is framed, like magic she makes things in the imagination out of thin air.
Use the Concept of a Manifesto
Try on another’s art group’s way of thinking and see where there is a fit, and where you need to break out, past the structure of the manifesto.
Try a manifesto on for size and walk and jangle around in a brilliant mind.
Here is a sample manifesto from Canadian thought leader, graphic designer and conceptual thinker,
Bruce Mau: The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.
A sample tenet, “Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.”
Cards, Decks and Chance
Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s “Oblique Strategies”
The one that I chose: “Left channel, right channel, center channel.”
Free “Random Prompt Generators” online. If you use one and like it, send me an email!
Writing Fix: “What did you once lose? Write about your search to find it again.”
Creativity Portal: “What do you believe you can not do?”
Plinky: “What was the last live performance you saw?”
Try an alternate artistic medium for inspiration:
Improv Wisdom from Patricia Ryan Madison who wrote from her experience teaching drama.
“To respond to a question or start improvised scenes, begin immediately using the first words that come to you. Trust your mind. Your first thought is a reasonable starting place; it is good enough. Don’t hesitate. Once you begin speaking, you have something to work with and build on. With the first-thought method it is as if the idea selects you rather than the other way around. The improviser focuses on making that idea into a good one, rather than searching for a “good idea.”
― Patricia Ryan Madson, Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up