Katy’s 21 creativity sparks :: guest post {31 Days}

Today’s guest post is from my friend Katy, who astounds me with her versatility. She’s a med school student, an amazing writer, and an ever-aware artist. This post is bursting with useful and thought-provoking creative exercises, so I hope you enjoy!
{Also, don’t forget to enter the giveaway – today is the last day!!} 

Katy_Eiffel in the Afternoon

As a creative writing major turned medical student, I have had to rework my approach to finding time for creativity.  From the moment I traded in my fiction and poetry classes for physiology and pathology, I knew that my creativity would only be engaged if I found an outlet outside of school that I intentionally sought in my spare time.  Easier said than done.

This is by no means a challenge faced only by medical students; it is something that all of us face, regardless of our profession, in our pursuit of creativity.  However, there are quite literally hundreds of ways, many of which Leslie has already shared in this series, that we can use to grab those little snippets of time and inspiration in our daily life to engage our creative side.  Just to add to what Leslie has already described, here’s another set of exercises that will hopefully spark some ideas for creativity, even if you’re in a seemingly un-creative environment.

  1. Take a picture from the plane window.  Even if you’re not sitting by the window.  Even if you’re in the middle of the middle of the middle of the plane and you can’t tell where the nearest window is between the heavily filled chairs and babies crying around you.  Even if the window shades are closed.  Sometimes what you see between you and the window is more impactful or inspiring than the clouds beyond the glass.  (This can easily be applied to office windows as well)
  2. Eat foreign cuisine.  What did you choose?  How do you pronounce that?  Was it scrumptious or just so-so? What was its texture? Color? Taste? Smell? Will you eat it again?  Take a picture (before it’s all gone of course).Katy_rearview
  3. What shape are the clouds?  How’s the weather?  Is the sky gray, blue, hazy, clear, smoggy, bright?  Is it raining?  How warm is it?  Take a picture of the sky at least once a week.  Even if you think it looks the same, just change your angle.
  4. What are you/they/it wearing?  How does your attire compare?  Are the colors the same or similar to everyone else, or do you stick out in a crowd?  Do you/they wear pants/dresses/shorts/jackets/pantyhose/vests/hats/jewelry?  Do you/they carry umbrellas/purses/suitcases/dogs?  If possible, take a picture.
  5. Listen.  What do you hear?  Birds?  Music playing?  From a radio or live instrument?  Do you hear people talking?  Yelling?  Whispering?  Laughing?  Singing?  Do the dogs yelp, sniffle, or whine?  Are there dogs?  What does the transportation sound like?  Like Houston traffic?  What kind of cards do they drive?  Do they drive?  What does it sound like while walking the streets?  While in your classroom/office?  At your home?  Record some sounds with your camera if it has the video option.
  6. Talk to people you don’t know.  At least 3.  On the street.  In a store.  At the library.  On the train.  What are their names?  What do they look like?  Tall?  Short?  Thin?  Hefty?  Male?  Female?  Blonde?  Brunette?  Curly hair?  Facial hair?  Eye color?  Glasses?  What are they wearing?  Where are they from?  What do they do?  Do they have any mannerisms or make any gestures?  Talk with their hands?  Smile?  Frown?  Seem disinterested?  Ignore you?  Ask to meet again?  How old are they?  Did you initiate conversation or did they?  Do they know about Christ?
  7. What grows here?  What plants do you see?  Trees?  Flowers?  Vines?  Only cement and buildings?  Only potted plants in people’s windows?  What colors do you see?  How do the plants smell?  Any you’ve never seen before?  Take a few pictures (I’m sure you saw that coming).
  8. Try something the same, differently.  Something you do often.  Every day maybe.  But today, change it.  Maybe it’s just brushing your teeth with your left hand instead of your right.  Maybe it’s doing quiet time on a park bench instead of in your room.  Maybe it’s eating at a different place, or just ordering something new off the menu at the same place.  Walk on a different side of the road.  Carry your bag on the opposite shoulder.  Sit in a different chair in the classroom.  Eat with silverware versus your hands.  Etc.  Don’t just do it to do it though.  Note the difference in what you see, feel, how you react, how others react.  Will you try it again?
  9. Try a new perspective.  View the church from a bench.  From the stairs.  While sitting on the ground.  From across the street.  From across the city.  How does this change its appearance, its size, its color?  How does it change your thoughts or impression of it?  Try this with many buildings, places, people, foods, etc.  Take pictures of each perspective.
  10. How do you feel today?  Excited?  Happy?  Frustrated?  Gloomy?  Lonely?  Peaceful?  Why?  What happened today?  What did you do?  Where did you go?  How did that make you feel?  Did you smile during a conversation on the street?  Did you feel a renewed peace after reading your Bible today?  How are your emotions tied with certain events?  How would you like for your reactions to change?


  11. Count…cars.  People.  Signs.  Letters.  Hats.  Birds.  Shoes.  Bare feet.  Coats.  Etc.  How many times you hear a particular word.  Not that you have to tally the results, but rather, just be aware of the numbers.
  12. Walk barefoot.  How does the ground feel?  Is it dirt?  Cement?  Gravel?  Cobblestone?  Is it smooth?  Rough?  Sharp?  Cold?  Hot?  Or is it carpet?  If so, what color?  Texture?  How sanitary do you feel right now?  How do other people around you view bare feet?  Offensive?  Indifferent?  Are they barefoot too?
  13. Wear your hair differently.  Braid part of it.  Pull your bangs back with a bobby pin.  Wear a headband.  Ribbon.  Barrette.  Flower.  How does this change your vision or how you feel?  If you wear it all loose, how does this change how well you see or how comfortable you feel?  How does this change how other people act around or toward you?
  14. Expand your vocabulary in a foreign language.  Learn at least 10 new random words today.  Maybe words that aren’t used in everyday vocabulary or conversation.  Then try to start up a conversation using them.  Pomegranate.  Funnel.  Marble.  Sea anemone.  Flying a kite.  Combat boots.  Write down pieces of your conversations that come as a result.
  15. Be touchy-feely, in a totally non-creepy way.  Pay attention to texture.  How does the banister on the staircase feel?  How stiff or soft are the curtains?  What about the coats hanging?  Are the walls smooth or rough?  How about your bag?  The doors?  The buildings?  The newspaper?  The desk?  The chair?  Your food?  Anything feel different than you expected from its appearance?
  16. Window watching.  Look out and through windows, both from inside the buildings looking out and from outside looking in.  What do you see?  How do the two views differ?  Does it change how you view certain places, people, or events?  How does it change what you hear?  Smell?  Feel?  Take pictures (without appearing stalkerish of course).
  17. Change your angle.  While taking pictures, switch your view.  Horizontal.  Vertical.  Off-center.  Slanted.  Sepia.  Black and white.  Zoomed in.  Far away.  From above.  From below.  Try multiple views of the same target shot.  How does this change how you see or interpret the image?
  18. Notice architecture.  What are buildings made of?  Brick?  Concrete?  Glass?  Stucco?  What color are they?  Do they have arches? Domes?  Gothic towers?  Pillars?  Stairs?  Fountains?  How are they decorated?  What does the landscaping look like?  How do the structures feel?  Are there statues or carvings?  What impression or mood does the structure evoke?  Does it remind you of anything?  As always, take pictures.
  19. The light doth break the shadow… Notice lighting.  How are rooms lit?  Bright?  Dim?  Natural?  Open uncovered windows?  How does this change how you’re able to see certain things?  Do you turn on more lights?  What mood does the lighting evoke?  Why do you think such lighting was chosen?  Would you have chosen differently?  How does the lighting change on camera?
  20. Note the scavengers.  What animals do you see?  Grackles?  Pigeons?  Dogs?  Cats?  Horses?  Cattle?  Beavers?  Bears?  Etc?  Are they free or on leashes?  Well-fed or scavenging for food in trash bins?  How do people react to them?  How do you react to them?  Are there any new animals you’ve never seen?
  21. Listen to your…nose.  Pay attention to the smells around you.  How does the food smell?  The streets?  The classroom?  The bathrooms?  The museums?  The fountains?  Do they smell fresh?  Rotten?  Fruity?  Stale?  Like cleaning solutions?  Savory?  Like perfume?  Like a freshly mowed lawn?  Dusty?  Old?  How so?  Is the smell good or unappealing?  Does it make you want to revisit the place/person/entrée?

I’ve applied these thoughts to everything from foreign travel to my clinical rotations, so feel free to experiment!  Sometimes the places where you think they will relate least is exactly where you’ll get the most inspiration.  So use them to soak in the details of a vacation, a walk through the neighborhood, or even your own living room, and let the fashioning of the Creator around you jumpstart your own form of creativity.

Katy_bioKaty is a second-year medical student in Lubbock, Texas, where she spends her spare time doing graphic design and remodeling recipes.  She loves the feel of French on the tongue, the smell of cinnamon in the kitchen, and the sound of a cello in the afternoon.  One of her favorite creative experiments is trying to change perspectives of the mundane through poetry.

{31 Days of Creativity Babysteps}

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6 Responses to Katy’s 21 creativity sparks :: guest post {31 Days}

  1. Thank you Leslie & Katy for sharing. What wonderfully fun challenges. Sure to indeed spark not only a creative edge but also to spark some different lights to life. I’m game.

  2. JSD says:

    Wonderful ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  3. kevofresco says:

    Thank you for this!

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