Saturday, September 10, 2011

Unlock Your Creative Spirit: Play With Playdough

by Dallas Woodburn

When was the last time you set aside a portion of your day to be creative?

No, I don’t mean being creative to brainstorm ideas for a work meeting. Nor am I talking about using creative thinking to come up with the perfect gift for your significant other’s birthday. And no, I don’t mean being creative in thinking of new ways to motivate your kids to eat their vegetables or study for the SATs.

What I mean is, when was the last time you set aside time to be creative ... just for the sake of being creative? Simply for yourself and your spirit?

Remember when you were a kid and you could spend hours absorbed with a wad of brightly colored playdough? In playdough world, your imagination takes you to a place where an orange snowman is commonplace and a three-horned fire-spouting monster takes shape before your very eyes.

If you feel like your writing life is stuck in a rut, I have a solution that won’t cost much money or take much time: go back to playodough world.

Grab a wad of playdough and roll it into a ball. Feel its texture between your fingers. Don’t think; don’t worry; don’t question yourself. Enjoy the moment. Just see what shapes and figures emerge from your imagination.

This can help your creativity in multiple ways. You might find yourself making sculptures that relate to your life – maybe you’ll make figurines of your family and friends, or create a visual 3-D diagram of a problem you’re facing. Perhaps you’re feeling frustrated and rolling the clay into a ball, then pounding it flat, will feel like a release.

Visualize your negative energy trailing out of your body through your fingertips into the playdough. Then, pound it away. Do this multiple times until you feel rejuvenated.

Even if you don’t sculpt objects that relate to your life, you’re still allowing your mind to roam free and explore various ideas and possibilities. Just see where your thoughts take you!

A good exercise when you are done sculpting with playdough is to spend five minutes writing stream-of-consciousness style in a journal. Don’t censor yourself; don’t edit; don’t even think too much – just write, for five minutes, without letting your pen leave the paper. You might be surprised what thoughts, emotions, and new ideas turn up!

At-home recipe for playdough:

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups four
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 7 drops food coloring.
Mix dry ingredients with oil. Add food coloring to water and mix together. Add water to flour/salt/oil mixture slowly – about 1/4 cup at a time – and mix together with a spoon. Once you’ve added all the water, knead the dough with your hands until texture is smooth. Enjoy!


Bio: Dallas Woodburn is the author of two award-winning collections of short stories and the editor of Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today's best youth writing. She has written more than 80 articles for national publications including Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, CO-ED, Justine, and The Los Angeles Times and her plays have been produced in Los Angeles and Ventura, California. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Dzanc Books "Best of the Web" anthology and has appeared in a variety of literary journals including Monkeybicycle, Arcadia and flashquake. Dallas is the founder of the nonprofit organization “Write On! For Literacy” that has donated nearly 12,000 new books to disadvantaged children. She hosts frequent writing contests, teaches writing camps for kids, and is Assistant Fiction Editor of Sycamore Review while pursuing her MFA in Fiction at Purdue University. Contact her at her website www.writeonbooks.org or blog http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com.

6 comments:

  1. Great block buster Dallas, though as a parent, I have to admit that I am rather pleased that my children have grown out of playdough as I often found bits of it stuck to the back of my pants, on the carpet and in their hair. Still, unlocking the child in us is what writing is partly all about.

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  2. What a wonderful idea. It's a physical as well as mental exercise. And as research shows when you get moving physically your brain starts working too.

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  3. Dallas, What a great post. It made me laugh - I play with playdough with my younger grandson all the time! :)

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  4. I've always loved the smell of Playdough. Good idea for a creativity boost.

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  5. Love this. Going in my list of Top Ten for my newsletter.

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  6. Love Playdoo. When the girls were younger we played with it all the time. Terrific idea!

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