Transformational Creative Practices: Improv, Art, and Writing to Unlock your Inner Artist and Change Your Life
Connect with your Muse, Play & Have Fun
Looking for a way to bring more play and fun into your life – or to connect with your inner Muse? Creative practices like improvisation, transformational drawing, sculpture and writing can help you to de-stress, let go of the heavy seriousness of life, and drop into your well of inspiration. They are also spiritual practices in their own right, that get us out of the ego and into the bigger, wilder Mind. Let go of all your agendas and ‘do-ing’ – and try out a creative practice where you can just be – in the moment, fresh, alive and inspired.
How Improv, Transformational Drawing & Freewriting Can Help you Thrive
Improvisation, usually known as improv, means getting together with other brave and playful souls, making stuff up as you go along, and acting it out. It can be comedic or dramatic, but it’s fun, spontaneous – and challenging, as it takes you out of your comfort zone. Improv can build your creativity, confidence and social skills (some research shows it helps social anxiety disorder), and help you unblock stuck emotions – a bit like therapy and play rolled into one. Transformational drawing and ‘painting from the source‘ or intuitive painting workshops, as well as sculpture, are visual creativity forms that let us translate the messages of our soul into vibrant images. It’s an invitation to let go of any ideas you might have that you can’t paint or draw, and tap into the creativity that is your born nature – switching off that inner critic and having a messy fun playful time. At an intuitive painting or drawing class you’ll receive encouragement in a supportive held space to dive into your creativity in a whole new way – you could be amazed at the results. Touch drawing is one technique of transformational drawing, where you touch paper that’s placed over a smooth surface of paint, forming imprints underneath the page. You then reflect on what your drawings say about what’s going on inside you. Writing is another way to go wild with your creativity. Timed writing exercises are a great way in to the practice of freewriting – where you use a prompt and commit to just keep that pen going, no matter what, for ten or thirty minutes. Whether you choose improvisation, painting, drawing, sculpture, or freewriting, transformational creativity can be a very freeing experience, where you feel more fully alive and in touch with yourself. Let go of the pressures of the outside world and bring your spontaneous child self out to play. You will face parts of yourself that you may be surprised by – which can be intense – but you’ll probably come out expanded and uplifted.
Letting it Flow – Art as a Spiritual Practice
With these kind of creative practices, it’s all about letting something flow through us – instead of trying to control the process and get it all right. This is both exhilarating and transformative. Improv is more than a creative acting practice: it’s a way of being, and an initiation into another part of the winding spiritual path. Just like with meditation, the principles of improv guide us to stay in the present moment, listen carefully to what’s going on and respond from that, let go of our ego-thoughts – and trust what emerges in the moment. To improv well, you need to forget about looking good and get comfortable with the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen next, as you literally go along moment by moment. Dropping these habits of mind opens up a lot of new space in your being: making way for creativity and enjoying life more. Some improv players even see improv as a kind of religion, or at least as a practice that has saved their life, as they learn to be more authentic, come to terms with fear of failure and feel more ‘whole’. Art as a spiritual practice is a way of getting in touch with the myths that we are living out, and getting more perspective on our lives – integrating our joys and challenges as we let our creativity flow. The concept of timed writing exercises, or ‘freewriting’, was developed by writer and Zen meditator Natalie Goldberg author of ‘Writing Down the Bones‘ and ‘Wild Mind‘. Writing from the ‘wild mind’ means ignoring your inner censor and letting the words move through you – basically, just let rip on the page. Goldberg said that ‘To do writing practice means to deal ultimately with your whole life.” Writing makes us come more alive to the world within and around us, noticing little details in a new way and appreciating life’s beauty.
The Artist’s Way, Improv Classes, Touch Drawing & Writing Prompts: Getting Started with Transformational Creativity
Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way‘, a 12-week course in re-covering and uncovering your creativity based on the 12 Steps, is a brilliant resource for whatever form of creativity you want to explore. It encourages you to see creativity as a connection to the Divine/The Universe/Great Spirit/God and helps you to clear your blocks so you can plug into this connection and experience your creativity on a regular basis. If you want to explore improv, check out The Improv Handbook, search for your nearest improv beginner’s class, take a deep breath and dive in! If transformational drawing or free painting appeals to you, try this book or find a local class with a title like ‘painting from spirit/source’ or ‘intuitive painting’. Or check out a home touch drawing course. If writing’s your thing, set aside time to try out Natalie Goldberg’s writing exercises at home, or find a writing class that is more about the process than perfecting the craft. Creativity mentor Sark’s book ‘Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper‘ is also a hugely inspiring call to the page with plenty to get you started. Or use online resources to find writing prompts. The key thing is to dedicate some time to it, commit to it, and get started!
Artistic Expression & The Soul – through the Ages
Humankind has been experimenting with artistic expression since the beginning of time, as we can see from amazingly detailed cave drawings that express all facets of life – including the spiritual realm. In recent decades the idea of art as the birthright of all of us has become very popular, with more and more people taking art and writing classes and exploring their creative side in different ways. Julia Cameron’s work has been a huge pivot in this movement. As for improv, it’s been around since before writing was invented – we acted stories out before we could write scripts. Viola Spolin developed a new way to teach acting, based on games. Her son, Paul Sills, took this work in more exploratory directions and improvisational theatre emerged in the mid 1950’s in Chicago, with accessibility as its goal. Today improv has moved out of theatre and become popular as both a fun hobby and therapeutic modality.
How will this help you to Switch On?
Transformational creative practices stretch us and wake us up to more of life’s adventure as we let our Muse loose on the world – shaking off the burdens of modern life and letting ourselves play and connect.