Creative Process Exercises

The following creative process exercises are designed to be facilitated in group or individual settings in which partner arrangements are appropriate. The exercises work best with participants who possess solid emotional containment and good communication skills. Sometimes, the exercises can be combined as a series, stretching over a couple of hours, in which the participants complete each exercise in sequence with the same partner. Obviously, the sequence presented below is not the only one possible.

Some of the exercises involve one participant working actively while the other one waits. The nature of ‘waiting’ is very much a facilitation choice: the non-active participant can observe their partner, turn inward to their own process, or follow any one of a number of suggestions given by the facilitator. The instructions provided for each exercise are designed to be read by the participants: usually this is accomplished by having them select, at random, slips of paper with the exercises written on them.

Words

Ask your partner for three words.

In 10 minutes, incorporating these three words, write one paragraph of a myth. Read it to your partner. Discuss the process.

Movements

Ask your partner to make three movements. Based on the three movements, draw or paint the story they tell. Take 10 minutes. Feel free to embellish. Show your partner what you created. Discuss the process.

Sounds

Ask your partner to make three sounds. Adapting the three sounds, and other sounds and words (if you like) of your own, write a one-verse song in 10 minutes. Sing the song to your partner.

Images

Ask your partner to describe three images. Using the three images, compose a story about how the world began. Take 10 minutes. Write it down if you like. Tell your partner the story. Discuss the process.

Smells and Tastes

Ask your partner to describe two smells and two tastes (with positive association, ideally). Using the smells and tastes (and other images of your own choosing), write a non-rhyming poem of about 12-20 lines. Take 10 minutes to write, then read the poem to your partner. Discuss the process.

Objects

In this exercise, the partners work together.

Partner A: read these instructions, then close your eyes:

Ask partner B to request an object from the facilitator.* Have partner B place the object into your hands, gently, making sure you don’t see it (your eyes are closed).

Partner A: touch the object, without opening your eyes. Describe how it affects you, what it makes you remember, or imagine. Take 10 minutes.

Partner B: write down what Partner A says, in note form.

After 10 minutes, partner A opens their eyes; together the partners look at the object and the words. Discuss the process.

* The objects for this exercise are chosen by the facilitator and can be of any type. I use stones, shells, action figures, small dolls, oarlocks, machine parts, plastic toys, strings of beads, wooden boxes, balls of various kinds, small sculptures, and so on. The goal of the exercise is not to identify the objects (some are easy to identify with eyes closed; others almost impossible) but rather to find resonance with the object, to use it as inspiration for imagery, memory, and feeling.

Memories

Ask your partner to describe one memory.

Using the memory as if it were your own, make a set of ritualized movements based on it. Create and practice for 10 minutes. When you’re ready, show your partner the movements.

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