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101 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself
101 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself : Part 2 ( 51-101)

101 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself (51-101)

By Molly J. Anderson-Childers

Welcome back. Pull up a chair and get comfy. Last month, I started you off with some fabulous suggestions to help you inspire yourself. I had so many juicy ideas, I had to break it into two articles — you get a double dose of inspiration and creativity! The companion piece to this article can be found here on Creativity Portal: Part 1: 100 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself.

This month, I'll continue to surprise and amaze you with more fresh ideas and strategies for self-inspiration. Watch carefully… the Muse is always quicker than the eye!

51. Write a poem on an index card, with your name and email address on the other side, and a request for whoever finds it to send you an email and let you know how far it traveled. Then seal the card in a small Ziploc bag, attach to a helium balloon, and send your poetry out into the universe. Watch as it disappears into the sky, and make a wish that it finds someone who needs a little poetry and light today.

52. Treat yourself to a massage, a pedicure, a new haircut, or a fabulous pair of shoes. Sometimes, a new look can be inspiring. Taking great care of yourself always pays big dividends in the self-esteem department.

53. Branch out. Write something different. If you love to read, why not submit a book review to the local paper? Shake it up.

54. Sit by running water and listen to the voice of the river. Write her story.

55. Listen to a favorite author's books on CD, or some spoken word. One of my favorites is The Jack Kerouac Collection, by Rhino Records. Always inspiring!

Photos © Molly Anderson-Childers56. Write a list of your creative dreams on a small piece of biodegradable paper. Plant it in a pot, along with some seeds for your favorite flower or herb. As the seeds spout, grow, and bloom, so will your dreams blossom and bear fruit.

57. Watch an inspiring bio-pic about a favorite musician, artist, or writer. My faves? Cadillac Records, Notorious, 8 Mile, Frida, Ray, Walk the Line, The Doors, The Hours, My Left Foot, and The Band.

58. Find a new book about writing or art to inspire you. I'm loving Natalie Goldberg's Wild Mind — a classic!

59. Surf the net for like-minded souls, and subscribe to inspirational blogs and e-newsletters for a dose of virtual inspiration! Some of my online muses are Jill Baldwin-Badonsky's site, themuseisin.com; Hank Kellner's photoelicitation blog, englisheducation.blogspot.com; and Cynthia Staples' writing and photography blog, wordsandimagesbycynthia.wordpress.com.

60. What makes you uncomfortable? Write about something that makes you squirm.

61. What scares you? What wakes you in a cold sweat at three in the morning, heart pounding wildly? Write about your fears, your nightmares. Glean the treasures that hide in the dark. Make friends with the monsters under the bed, and the things that go BUMP in the night.

62. Send your favorite writer a fan letter, and let them know how much you love their work. (If they have already passed from this life, you can still "mail" them a letter by slipping it into a copy of one of their books at your favorite bookstore or library.)

63. Do some character-work. Spy on them like a private detective, and do a character interview. Get to know the people on the pages of your notebook.

64. Imagine yourself with magical powers, and fly over your creative blocks on a magic purple carpet. When your Inner Critic comes knocking, throw on your invisibility cloak, or take a walk in your Seven-League Boots.

65. Visit a graveyard — the older and spookier, the better! Make rubbings of interesting images, names, and epitaphs; or record them in your writer's notebook. Make up stories about the folks laid to rest there. (If you're me, these stories might include cackling witches honoring their mighty dead on Samhain night, walking skeletons, ghosts and ghouls, vampires, werewolves, and zombies, coyotes howling at the moon, and revenge from beyond the grave.) Write about their souls, and what happened to them in the afterlife. Explore your own beliefs — or a character's — about The Great Beyond.

66. Write the worst story ever. Do your worst with sloppy spelling, poor grammar, lazy metaphors, and clichés a-plenty! Here's a corny classic to get your pen moving. "It was a dark and stormy night. A shot rang out. The maid screamed…"

67. Write a short-short story, in 100 words or less. Flash fairy-tales are fun; they really spark my imagination. Get from "Once upon a time…" to "The End" in as few words as possible. Send me your best short stories, and get published on my Addictive Fiction blog, addictivefiction.blogspot.com!

68. Write a list of ideas for stories and poems and projects, and keep it in your writer's notebook. Add to it whenever the mood strikes you. When you're stuck, pick one from the list at random, and free-write 500 words to get started. Still not feeling inspired? Pick another topic, and repeat ad infinitum. (That's Latin for "until your hand is too sore to hold a pen.")

69. Use your "blah" time to do something related to your creative work. Query a new lead, edit a chapter, or start your own blog and boost it on your favorite social networking site. This way, you're using your time productively, even if you're not necessarily doing something creative.

70. Go see a movie or a concert, then write a completely honest and unpretentious review of it for your local paper.

71. Let the visual and the verbal intersect and intertwine. Make a collage with cut-up words from one of your poems, stories, or a page of free-writing. Combine with photos, glitter, fabric, seeds, flower-petals, images from magazines and postcards, and whatever else inspires you.

72. Illustrate a poem or story with a painting, sketch, or even anime or a cartoon.

73. Write a poem in calligraphy. Make a rebus, or write a story in your very own secret code. Or, make the shapes of a poem's words echo their meaning. For example, a poem about a thunderstorm might use words shaped like clouds, lightning-bolts, and rain-drops.

74. Write a new ending for your favorite short story or fairy tale.

75. Ever feel cheated by the way a book ended? Next time, write a new final chapter, or a list of ideas for alternate endings that would have packed more of a punch.

76. Play tourist in your own town. Visit a museum or historical attraction, and write about it. Send your Muse a postcard!

77. Create a writing ritual with a blue candle, incense, a certain lucky pen — all your creative soul work is magic. Light a candle and invoke your favorite Muse.

78. Keep a list of cliches in your writer's notebook. Watch your own work for signs of overused expressions, buzzwords, stock characters, and pale, sickly plots.

79. Imagine what a cat would write, if he could. Pen a poem from a dog's-eye-view.

80. Listen to birdsong, and imagine their conversations. What are the larks twittering and tweeting about on this bright morning?

81. Got a story that's just not working? Try telling it from the point of view of several different characters, and see if one version stands out. Maybe your main character isn't really your main character at all!

82. Take a secondary character from a story you've already finished, and give her the starring role in a story all her own!

83. Write a letter to yourself, from one of the characters in a story that's giving you trouble. Sometimes this can spark a new idea or take the tale in an unexpected direction.

84. Write a great first line, and then create several things from this one root source. Use it to craft a poem, a story, a collage, an essay…

85. Take your favorite quote and use it as a poem-seed or story-starter.

86. Surf the web for an interesting or inspiring news story, and write a story about it from the point of view of each of the major players in the tale.

87. Make a cup of tea and write a short poem, or doodle while it's brewing. Or, try for speed and see how many words you can set down in five minutes. Then, try to beat that record.

88. Who inspires you? Is it a musician, an artist? One of your teachers, mentors, or friends? Write a thank-you note to your muses and the guardian angels of creative juiciness.

89. Go through an old diary or writer's notebook, looking for seminal lines, and ideas for new work. Star, underline, or highlight your favorite finds, then use them to create a plethora of new poems, songs, and stories.

90. Listen to jazz or classical music, and write or draw something in response to it. Even some abstract doodling with a paintbrush in hand can free your mind, opening you up to inspiration.

91. Take a trip to The Open Shutter Gallery in Durango, Colorado. If you can't visit in person, their website has lots of photographs to get your pen moving at www.openshuttergallery.com.

92. Explore your neighborhood with a camera or sketchbook in hand. Walk until you find a subject that sparks something in your soul. Then, make a quick sketch or snap a few photos.

93. Break out of your grown-up mentality and play with words again. Challenge a friend to a game of Boggle, Scrabble, or Balderdash. Do a word-search, or a crossword puzzle.

94. Be your silliest self. Make up a fun poem or story. For inspiration, read a few books by Dr. Seuss. He's got a black-belt in the Art of High Silliness.

95. A wise man once said, "You can never go home again." Visit the place that is your heart's home — on the page, or in person- and prove him wrong.

96. Now, travel to a galaxy far, far away. Write about life on another planet. (Do #95 and #96 back-to-back for an added creative punch.)

97. Do you believe in magic? If you don't, write about a character who's convinced it's real. If you do believe, write a story about a cynic.

98. Cruising my favorite flea market, I came across some lovely mosaics made from broken glass and crockery. Sometimes, you have to break something in order to create anew. Take apart an old poem or story at the seams and craft it into a new form.

99. Find someone who inspires you to achieve more. It could be a rival, a friend or mentor, or someone you've never even met. Learn something new about them every day until you've gleaned a few important things: inspiration, motivation, a new idea or two…and the realization that they, too, are human — flawed and imperfectly perfect, just like you.

100. Spend a day in nature and observe all that takes place as you explore. At the end of your hike, stop to take down a few notes or make some quick sketches in your journal as a reminder of the lessons learnt in the wild.

101. Write your very own list of 101 Ways to Delight and Inspire Yourself. Realize that you are your own best muse, already, whether you know it or not. If you want to share your favorite ways to get your pen moving, email me at stealingplums [at] yahoo.com . I'll publish the best of the best on my blog, Addictive Fiction, online at addictivefiction.blogspot.com!

© 2010 Molly Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »

8/27/10