Sunday, October 29, 2006


I've been doing a variety of creative exercises the last several months to try and try and squeeze my dried-up brain to recover some of my lost creative juices. These are practice tools I've picked up in a variety of places. A surprising lot of the material I've been over deals with nothing more than everyday handwriting and how the right and left hemispheres of the brain deal with it; the left caring about each letter representing an actual letter, the right caring about shape and spacing. As I learned, there are a vast number of ways to flex your mind with nothing more than the alphabet.

The previous few weeks, I've taken two separate practice efforts and put them together to form an awesome, unstoppable Voltron-ish exercise that I'm greatly enjoying. The first is called "the morning pages" which some of you may be familiar with. This is basically a way to cut your mind loose and let it run free without restrictions, be it grammar, spelling, and the like. As big a supporter I am in correct spelling and grammar (and I admit I check mine), you're meant to unburden yourself with those temporarily if you happen to be weak in those area as the idea is simply to put your thoughts out into the world and not to hinder them in any fashion.

It is merely the process of every day writing a few pages of your thoughts, no matter how trivial. It doesn't have to be an epic, just words on a page is all that is required, though any writing style is fine, as long as it is something. Even a limited scope manner of writing where you just write the first thoughts that come to you until your pages are done.

"I'm looking at my toaster and perhaps I'll put a bagel in there but not just yet. I used to know someone who called them "bag-uls" and I still think that is the cutest thing I've ever heard. I think I may call in sick to work today because I can already tell I'll need to nap after my breakfast and it's just too nice a day to not be in the

Pretty pointless and nothing more than rambling, but letting your mind have free reign to vent really stretches the imaginative muscle a lot more than I ever believed from such a simple chore.

The second is "mirror writing" which, if it's good enough for da Vinci, it's good enough for me. This is, as you may have concluded, writing backwards in a manner so that if you held up the writing to a mirror, it would appear correct. The progression with this is quite interesting. Trying to write mirrored is entertaining in and of itself if you've never tried it. The next step is to write mirrored with your unfavored hand and then finally with both at once, which seems crazy but it's an interesting thing to try.

Handwriting can tell you a lot about a person and you certainly learn a lot about yourself when you have to analyse your own handwriting the way you do when you try mirrored writing the first time. I learned that despite the fact that my 'b' and 'd' are the exact same shape, I write them in a completely different manner, just as I do 'q' and 'p'. I learned that straight letters such as 'i' and 't' I randomly write in different directions, sometimes from the bottom up, others from the top down. Sometimes I dot the 'i' or cross the 't' first. I draw the 'e' in 3 different ways, but it always looks the same.

I also noticed when I attempted to use my unfavored hand (left) to write mirrored that, while the actual line work is difficult and I cannot make a line even remotely straight, writing in reverse actually seems normal. I naturally try to draw the letters backwards (and I use the word 'draw' very purposefully). It is interesting how the mind works. This was a nice personal demonstration of the right side of the brain finally getting its figurtive hands dirty.

I combined these two practices as I said and am writing my morning pages all mirrored. It takes a bit of patience (especially the half page I do left-handed) despite my increasing speed and it can be quite fatiquing on the wrist for whatever reason. Likely I have developed an unnatural pose with the hand that has yet to find a comfortable way to position itself in this new way of writing. If I ever get to the point where I find using my left comfortable, I'll be interested to try and play a guitar left-handed and see if anything translates from this practice. People I've spoken with who do similar type exercises swear by them so I am eager to see if they open any mental doors for me. It's about time something knocked the rust off of those hinges.

1 comment:

Ali said...

What happened that sucked your creative juices from your brain? Just burn-out from too much, too often?

I think I may try writing my thoughts down each day. I used to do it when I was younger and seemed to have more time, but it would be interesting to see what I would write about now.