by Betsy Lowery
As a writer whose nonfiction offerings lean more toward deep ideas than toward useful application, I’m happy to offer to my ACFW community a very simple and concrete idea.
In chapter 9 of The Wrong Type of Love (unfinished sequel to my first and unpublished novel, A Stranger’s Promise), a couple of young musicians need some inspiration during a composing session.
Albert, who teaches middle schoolers as his day job, demonstrates the following exercise to Zach to get the “creative juices” flowing: Take a blank sheet of unlined paper and draw several strokes on it with pencil, averting your eyes almost entirely so you’re not tempted to form familiar shapes. The idea is to keep it random and fairly simple. Now look at what you have drawn and use the pencil to add to some area of the squiggle, making a recognizable object – a fish, a house, a face, a tree, etc.
• Don’t watch what you’re drawing. Avert your eyes and try to move the pencil randomly. Lines can be separate, i.e., you can pick the pencil up and place it down again.
• Keep it fairly simple.
• Trace or copy plain squiggle (or scan and save it as a picture image) if you want a record of your “before” drawing.
• Add details to form a creative picture. No erasing allowed! Incorporate every mark somehow into your new masterpiece.
See what an amazing artist you are, even if, like me, you can’t draw “worth a flip.” Then go back to whatever task requires concentrated thinking.
Pictured here are drawings showing you the astounding works of art I’ve created using this brain-energizer exercise. Instructions are included. It doesn’t have to be writer’s block or a midday writing slump that occasions this. Sometimes we just need a little bit of pencil fun!
Note: the drawings I share here remind me that words, not pictures, are my strong suit. Remember: Erasing is not allowed! That’s why my “bat ghost playing a flute” has a flounce off to the right that’s not really accounted for. But there’s fun to be had in trying to explain details that might raise a skeptic’s eyebrows.
Here is a page that lends credence to what Albert tells Zach about the value of this exercise: http://lateralaction.com/articles/creative-block-drawing/
Enjoy using this exercise for mind stimulation or to entertain and to spark imagination in children.
Betsy Lowery designs communications for Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. A seminary graduate, she has been writing professionally since 1983. Her devotional book, Pause: Everyday Prayers for Everyday Women (Revell, 2004), is featured on Facebook as “PAUSE to Remember.” Find faith-related insights on her Called-Out Life blog and see her “hands-on” passion for knitting here. A Stranger’s Promise is her first novel, not yet represented. A sequel, The Wrong Type of Love, is underway.