Colouring outside the lines


left-brain-right-brain
Image by vaXzine via Flickr


I have spent a lot of time today contemplating this post. I knew that I had to come up with some fresh creative exercises. Unfortunately due to a bad case of hayfever, I had little to no sleep last night. Tired person = tired brain. So instead I went to my online creative clusters and trolled though the websites of writers and creatives on my favourites list. It resulted in a few surprising exercises coming to the foreground. Enough to do today’s post.

Strangely enough, I then got an email from one of my subscriptions about unlocking the potential of the right brain: the creative you or me. Intrigued I clicked through to the post and then read to the end. It fascinates me that in most articles about right brain vs left brain, all the writers, bloggers and experts tell us that the world we live in tell us to make the left brain more dominant.


Left Brain

Logical

Analytical

Realistic

Rule-Follower

Schedules

Lists


Right Brain

Intuitive

Impulsive

Risk Taker

Fantasy

Imagery

Visual


Above are just some of the differences between the right brain and left brain. We are told as children to stop day dreaming. We are told to focus. We are told to stop playing. We are told to never fail. We are told to follow all the rules. We are told to get our head out of the clouds and get back to reality.

Was this correct teaching? Or has all this pre-determined teaching instilled in us a dominance of reality and impaired us creatively. Cases could be made for both sides. But isn’t it uncanny how a child can believe that there is a mouse or a fairy that comes to collect children’s lost teeth at night. Yet as adults every time we catch ourselves slipping into a day-dream, we mentally tell our minds off and remind ourselves “that will never happen, it’s impossible or just a fantasy”.

A lot of articles on the net are trying to explore the “unlocking” of the right brain. Why you may ask? Isn’t it better to live a life based in only what’s probable then dream the impossible and maybe set our hopes too high? You might think it is. I don’t think it is. I think it is vital to dream impossible dreams and hold them as goals before you. Unfortunately to be a creative individual means, by society’s benchmark anyway, that we fall into that latter group. The dreamers. The fantasists. The day-dreamers. The hippies. The arty-fartys. The unstable ones. The emotional ones. Any of these labels have and will be used towards you if you fall into a creative group. Are you fearful of those labels?

So you are a writer, an artist, a photographer, a painter, a sculptor, a musician, any and all of the previous labels: So then you have the right brain unlocked then just by being focused on the creative. Right? No. The answer is that though you are a creative person (let me just use the term “artist” for all creatives from now on) you live in a left brain dominated world. How do I know that? How many times have you had raised eyebrows as a response when someone has asked you what you do and you have told them? Or maybe you have not even got the courage to voice what you do or who you are. Just because you maybe do an office job for 40 hours a week and work creatively all the other time that you are not sleeping does not make you any less of an artist. So let’s get that out-of-the-way! Say it now. We will practice:

What do you do? (Picture a bland face looking at you waiting for the answer)

Now, don’t think, don’t hesisitate:

Answer: I am a ______________. (Fill in the blank with writer, artist, painter, sculptor,photographer,graphic book author,cartoonist,musician.)

Now pat yourself on the back. Was that the first time you said it aloud? Be proud of yourself, admitting it is the first step to success and authenticity.

So are there exercises or tools we can use to unlock the right brain in ourselves? Is there a way to allow ourselves to colour outside the lines of society’s “normal and accepted” which hardly ever included creativity unleashed? Well I have spent the afternoon researching this for both myself and for this post. Here is what I came up with:

LaTeral ThiNking

This is a process that allows you to see things in a different way and to express them uniquely. So for this week, the lateral thinking exercises are:

  • Spend an evening doing some riddles.
  • Go and get yourself some 3d pictures and practice 3d watching.

Here are some riddles to start out on. Think about them and if you think you have them figured out, type your answer in the comments. I will post some clues throughout the week. Next week Monday I will post the answers to these riddles.

Riddle # 1: A man lives on the seventeenth floor of an
apartment building. Every morning he takes
the lift down to the ground. In the evening he
goes into the lift and if it is raining he goes
directly back to the seventeenth floor.
Otherwise he goes to the tenth floor and
climbs up seven flights of stairs.

Riddle #2: A man walks into a bar and asks for water.
The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at
him. The man says, “Thank you,” and walks
out.

Riddle #3: A landlord is threatening to evict a father

and his beautiful young daughter, unless she

agrees to marry him. There are a lot of

witnesses and in a false gesture of sincerity,

he offers her an opportunity to remain in the

house without marrying him. He has a silk

bag in which he says he has placed a white

and a black stone from the footpath on which

they’re standing. If she picks the white stone

from the bag, then she wins; if she picks the

black, she loses. However, the young girl saw

him place two black stones in the bag. She

can’t accuse him of cheating, because he

would say that his good question was called

into question and storm off without showing

the bag. How does the clever girl win?


Riddle #4: A man is alone on an island with no food

and no water, yet he does not fear for his life.


Riddle #5: A man managed to visit over thirty foreign

countries without his passport. He was

welcomed in each country and left each one of

his own accord. He did this in one day.

Puzzle # 1 Look at the below words for a while. Say them in your mind. Now repeat them out aloud. Did you get all the words correct?

Green

Red

Blue

Pink

Orange

Purple

Black

Writing Exercise #1 What’s another word for it?

Each day of the week, pick a word  and play with it.

Monday: Begin with the word creative. Intially think of as
many words that come to mine when you focus on the
word. Then take each of those and visit a thesaurus
and see how many words you can generate or find in 15
to 30 minutes. Review the words when your time has
ended. What did you discover that was new to you?
What patterns do you find?

Tuesday: Begin with the word dull. Do the same as above.

Wednesday: Pick up a newspaper and randomly pick 6 words and do
the same thing as you did with creative and dull.

Thursday: Listen to a radio for 5 to 10 minutes and list words
you hear randomly. Then pick 6 of them and do the
same thing.

Friday: Look at billboards or other forms of environmental
communication and choose 6 and use the same process.

What did you discover over the week?
Did you control your thougths or were they directed
randomly or intuitively?

Writing Exercise #2 Cliche stretching – I have listed cliches here. The exercise is simple using only these cliches, write a piece of flash fiction or a story plot.

a bad scene
add insult to injury
agree to disagree
all things considered
all too soon
along these lines
ample opportunity
armed to the teeth
as a matter of fact
at a loss for words
at one fell swoop
avoid it like the plague
awaiting further orders
 

back at the ranch
back to the drawing board
bated breath
beginning of the end
before you know it
benefit of the doubt
best-laid plans
better late than never
better left unsaid
beyond the shadow of a doubt
bite the bullet
bitter end
bone of contention
bottom line
budding genius
burning question
busy as a bee
by leaps and bounds
by the same token

calm before the storm
call of the wild
casual encounter
chain reaction
charged with emotion
checkered past
cherished belief
circumstances beyond my control
clear as crystal
come full circle
contents noted
cool as a cucumber
curiously enough
cut a long story short
cut down in his prime

days are numbered
dead as a doornail
deafening crash
depths of despair
diamond in the rough
dig in your heels
do not hesitate to
drastic action
due consideration

each and every
easier said than done
eat, drink, and be merry
eminently successful
engage in conversation
epic struggle
even tenor
exception that proves the rule
existing conditions
express one’s appreciation

fall on bad times
fall on deaf ears
far and wide
far be it from me
fateful day
fate worse than death
feel free to
feel vulnerable
festive occasion
few and far between
final analysis
finishing touches
fit as a fiddle
food for thought
fools rush in
foregone conclusion
foul play
from the sublime to the ridiculous

generation gap
give the green light to
go down the drain
goes without saying
good team player
grave concern
green with envy
grim reaper
grind to a halt

hands across the sea
happy pair
hastily summoned
have the privilege
heartfelt thanks
heart of the matter
heart’s desire
heated argument
heave a sigh of relief
herculean efforts
hook, line, and sinker
hook or crook
hope for the future
hot pursuit
hunker down

ignorance is bliss
ill-fated
immeasurably superior
in close proximity
infinite capacity
innocent bystander
in no uncertain terms
in our midst
in reference to
in short supply
in the limelight
in the nick of time
in the same boat with
in the twinkling of an eye
in this day and age
into full swing
irony of fate
irreplaceable loss
it dawned on me

keep options open

labor of love
lashed out at
last analysis
last but not least
last-ditch effort
leaps and bounds

leave no stone unturned
leaves much to be desired
leave up in the air
lend a helping hand
let well enough alone
line of least resistance
little woman
lit up like a Christmas tree
live and let live
lock, stock, and barrel
long arm of the law
look before you leap
 

marked contrast
matter of life and death
mecca for travelers
method to his madness
milk of human kindness
miraculous escape
moment of truth
momentous occasion
monumental traffic jam
moot point
more than meets the eye
more the merrier
motley crew

narrow escape
nearest and dearest
needs no introduction
never a dull moment
never before in the history of
nipped in the bud
no sooner said than done

one and the same
ongoing dialogue
on more than one occasion
open secret
order out of chaos
other things being equal
outer directed
overwhelming odds
own worst enemy

pales in comparison
paralyzed with fright
paramount importance
pay the piper
peer group
pet peeve
pick and choose
pie in the sky
pinpoint the cause
pipe dream
place in the sun
play hardball
play it by ear
poor but honest
powder keg
powers that be
pros and cons
proud heritage
proud possessor
pull one’s weight

rack and ruin
ravishing beauty
red-letter day
regrettable incident
reigns supreme
reliable source
remedy the situation
right on
ripe old age
round of applause

sadder but wiser
saw the light of day
scathing sarcasm
sea of faces
seat of learning
second to none
select few
selling like hotcakes
shattering effect
shift into high gear
shot in the arm
sigh of relief
silence broken only by
silhouetted against the sky
simple life
skeleton in the closet
snug as a bug in the rug
social amenities
spectacular event
spirited debate
stick out like a sore thumb
stick to one’s guns
straight and narrow path
structure one’s day
such is life
superhuman effort
supreme sacrifice
sweat of his brow
sweeping changes
sweet sixteen

take the bull by the horns
telling effect
terror stricken
thanking you in advance
there’s the rub
this day and age
those present
throw a monkey wrench
throw a party
throw caution to the wind
tie that binds
time of one’s life
tongue in cheek
too funny for words
too numerous to mention
tough it out
tower of strength
trials and tribulations
trust implicitly

uncharted seas
unprecedented situation
untimely end
untiring efforts

vale of tears
vanish into thin air

watery grave
wax eloquent/poetic
weaker sex
wear and tear
whirlwind tour
wide open spaces
words fail to express
word to the wise
wrought havoc

So I hope your Mental Muscles are feeling stretched. This week is all about refocusing our right brain and allowing yourself to colour outside the lines and for that to be ok.

All of these exercises were found on various lateral thinking and creativity sites. I take no credit for them, only for sharing them as tools and exercises that I have found handy today.

Enjoy colouring outside the lines this week.

5 Comments

  1. woot, thankyou! I finally came to a site where the webmaster knows what they’re talking about. Do you know how many results are in Google when I search.. too many! It’s so annoying having to go from page after page after page, wasting my day away with thousands of people just copying eachother’s articles… bah. Anyway, thankyou very much for the info anyway, much appreciated.

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