When creative challenges present themselves, what is your first reaction? Embarrassingly, my first reaction in the past has been NO WAY!!
Recently, I had an opportunity to write an introspective political essay.
A chance to be serious, honest, and dig into myself to uncover deep feelings.
My first reaction?
Yet, something (inspiration? my muse? my tendency to rush blindly into things unknown and think later?) took over, and I agreed to try. It was the most difficult writing undertaking I’ve ever experienced, but also extremely rewarding. (We Rise to Resist: Voices from a New Era in Women’s Political Action)
Honestly, writing about my deep-down feelings and myself scared me to death. I had to talk myself into it. I always say, get something on paper and then you can shape it.
I followed my own advice, and my first draft was dreadful. I kept at it, adding paragraphs, deleting them, rewording. Rewriting again and again.
The most amazing thing happened. Pushing myself to write outside my comfort zone rekindled my passion for a stalled fiction project.
According to studies on reaching outside the comfort zone, by taking on this creative challenge, I expanded my brain and sparked my muse into action.
I’ve decided to keep the creative juices going and push myself to do something scary and different once a month. And so should you.
What sorts of things, you may ask? Glad you did!
14 Creative Challenges to Build Confidence
- Sing a song at karaoke night.
- Sign up for a creative or art class in something you’ve never tried before.
- Write at least three short stories in genres you’ve never written before—thriller, urban fantasy, horror, romance, steampunk, western, science fiction, or fantasy.
- Take a deep breath and submit the above stories.
- Take a poetry class.
- Submit your poetry.
- Begin an art journal and experiment with unknown media.
- Photo-a-day journal with an arbitrary theme (blindfolded and dictionary in hand, I just chose gaiety for my first entry).
- Take a morning or afternoon and photograph anything you find interesting.
- Sign up for “word-of-the-day” and use it as a creative prompt. Which media to use for this artistic endeavor? Anything you haven’t tried before.
- Sign up for an exotic cooking class (exotic meaning you haven’t made it before).
- Take an acting class.
- Choose something new to learn and at the end of the month, write about the experience (Photoshop, another culture, a different religion, making a terrarium, art history for a specific era, antiquing, beekeeping, calligraphy, reading tarot cards, playing the banjo—the list is endless).
- Write a six-word story (ala Hemingway).
Try a few of these creative challenges or use them as idea starters to make your own list. If it scares you or your internal voice declares you shouldn’t do it—that’s where to begin. When you step back into your comfort zone, your creativity will soar.
Good luck and happy creating!
Award-winning novelist Kathy Steffen teaches fiction writing and speaks at writing programs across the country. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, Between the Lines. Her books, FIRST THERE IS A RIVER, JASPER MOUNTAIN and THEATER OF ILLUSION are available online and at bookstores everywhere. Check out more at www.kathysteffen.com