In Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit, she suggests we give ourselves a handicap to get our creative juices flowing. On page 114 in her chapter titled “Give Yourself a Little Challenge,” she discusses:
"George Harrison once decided, as a game, to write a song based on the first book he saw at his mother's house. Picking up at random, he opened it and saw this phrase 'gently weeps,' whereupon he promptly wrote his first great song, 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.' You can give yourself the same kind of challenge whatever medium you work in: paint only in shades of green; write a story without using the verb 'to be'; film a ten-minute scene nonstop with one camera. Giving yourself a handicap to overcome will force you to think in a new and slightly different way which is the prime goal of scratching."
According to Tharp (and the late George Harrison), coming up with a creative game can help you to activate new ways of thinking, or “scratching” as she calls it. She goes on to suggest that this scratching can help us find, “the moment where your ideas first take flight and begin to defy gravity.”
So, do you ever play creative games like Mr. Harrison? Do you have your own version of “scratching” to get ideas bubbling? If so, what do you do to challenge yourself and force new and expanded ways of thinking?
Sometimes I write lists of verbs synonymous with the theme I’m creating on artistically, or I explain what I am doing to myself in one sentence. It’s amazing how surprising the stuff that pours out of you when there is a blocker negating the usual ways we think or approach creative work.