Monday, December 2, 2013

Creative Cross-Training: Personal Style

It's so important for writers to experiment with other creative outlets so that their writing does not get stale. You want your writing to be fresh and interesting, right? The best way to do that is to step away from it periodically and try something new. Let's call it creative cross-training. 

One of my favorite ways to express myself when I'm all out of words is through the clothes I'm wearing. I'm biased of course: my day job is salesperson at a clothing store, but I was this way even before I got the job. I've always loved to try on different outfits and mix and match fabrics or patterns to see what looks good together.

I think of my closet as a sort of ever growing, ever expanding modern art piece. I buy things that fit into the aesthetic I'm trying to create, while also adding a new facet to the display. (Side note: because I work in clothing retail, I very rarely ever pay full price for anything, even in the mall. I love thrift shops, which is how I can afford to think of my closet this way. Just last week I bought an entire outfit for less than $10.)

My closet doesn't have a door on it, so everything is out on display at any given time. This means that when I buy new things I have to consider not only whether I'll wear it with any kind of regularity, but also whether I want to look at it everyday. This helps me stay away from trendy pieces and only bring in items that I'm truly going to love.

So what does this have to do with creativity? If you get dressed in the morning the way I do, a whole lot. (As a writer with a day job, I don't get a lot of days to play out the sitting in my pjs all day stereotype.) I begin by thinking about the things I'll do that day, the places I'll be going and yes, the people I may meet.  

Then I think about the story that I want to tell. 

I think about what I want the clothes to say about me, even if I'm the only one who sees it that way. It's a bit silly, but it allows me to stretch my creative muscles in a way that you wouldn't normally think about. Not only that, but it gives me something to experiment with on the page. 

When I'm stuck on a scene, I think about what my characters might be wearing. What message were they trying to convey when they got dressed that morning? Maybe they're wearing an itchy wool sweater that's distracting them during an important interview. 

When you consider these things, when you force yourself to look at the scene from a different angle, you'll be surprised what will come about. Next time you're stuck on a scene, try a little creative cross-training to get the juices flowing again.


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