games, experiments and exercises
photo: corey fischer
Make Your Own Art!
A growing list of "recipes" from Musing on the Muse to enjoy.
These games, experiements and exercises are forms
I've learned or invented. I claim no "ownership" of them. Rather, I see
them as part of a commonly held cultural resource. Over the years,
uncountable practioners have cultivated this fertile mess by
adding, altering, transposing and elaborating its components. Many
of the underlying principles come from the work of Viola Spolin who
first used the term "theatre games" in her monumental book
for the Theatre
or in the writing work from Natalie Goldberg and Deena Metzger.
Other important contributors I've known include Nina Wise, Del
Close, Naomi Newman among others.
one word story
Sitting comfortably with a friend, spouse or date, start speaking one word at a time, in turn, letting the words form sentences and, eventually, become a story.
Often what’s needed is a very simple, “boring” word like “the” or “was” so you don’t have to be clever or inventive. Listen to what’s unfolding and supply a word that can easily keep the sentence unfolding. If your partner starts with “Once” the next word could be “upon” or “there” but probably not “elephant” or “zucchini” lovely as those words might be. Don’t anticipate or try to control how the story is going to unfold. The fun is in the surprises that happen when both players surrender to the third thing that’s unfolding between the two of you. Click here for more ways of playing creatively with others.
Do a ten minute timed writing experiment. Alternate beginning each sentence with “Once I was….” and “Now I am…” Complete each sentence as you go, writing as quickly as you can, not allowing your hand to ever stop moving on the page until the 10 minutes is up.
Let go of any need to “make sense.” When I tried the exercise just now, some of the paired sentences that came up were complete surprises like:
“…Once I was hungry all day / Now I feed wolves… Once I barked in confusion, circling the city / Now I know how to breathe…” 1
Sit down some place comfortable. Take your shoes off. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Without making any effort, allow an image to bubble up into your awareness of some “artist” – singer, composer, writer, painter, dancer, actor or a teacher in any creative area. It might be a “great” artist or an “unknown,“ someone from the past or present, living or dead. If a number of figures arise, just pick one, it doesn’t matter which.
When you're ready, open your eyes and write, non-stop for 10 minutes, a letter to the person who came to mind while you had your eyes closed. Tell them what their work or their life has done for/to you, how it affected you, your work, your beliefs, your goals and/or anything thing else you want them to know.
If writing the letter energizes you, try writing, in the voice of this person, a response to the first letter.
At different times in my life, I’ve carried on dialogues in the form of correspondence with historical or imaginary figures over a period of months. It's a process I first learned from writer and teacher Deena Metzger
click here if you'd like to find out more about working with corey
are some books that I find helpful and inspiring
Nina Wise's unique guidebook is
full of delightful enticements to live artfully and bring play into all your relationships, drawn from Nina's years as a boundary-breaking improviser, performance artist and teacher of art and Dharma.
Natalie Goldberg's classic guide to the original "timed writing" practice, the inspiration behind many of the exercises I pass along.
It was in one of Deena Metzger's workshops sometime in the seventies that I first started writing with any understanding of why and what I was doing. She's a visionary and someone we are lucky to have on the planet right now. Her book on writing (above) is one of her many genre-busting works that I recommend to anyone interested in creativity in all its permutations.
click on the book to purchase or on Deena's photo to go to her site.
photo by ayelet berman cohen