From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, January 25, 2010

Extracurricular activities for Creative Writers

One of the things I love best about calling myself a writer is that absolutely anything can qualify as "research." People watching, movie watching, book reading, game playing, music listening, grocery shopping, etc. It all counts, because it can all inspire and generate creativity. In fact, I think ever writer kind of needs something extra to keep the juices flowing and the blocks from staying.

Think of 'Julie and Julia.' Julia Powell accomplished her goal of becoming a published writer through the extra-curricular activity of cooking. J. R. R. Tolkien developed Lord of the Rings out of his love for studying languages. Shakespeare was both a writer and an actor, and I bet both activities fed into and inspired each other.

In my case, as an example, I'd say my primary "extra-curricular activity" is theater and film. This is a little easier to tie in to writing because both theater and writing are creative, artistic fields, but it works well as an example. You can meet people who inspire certain characters. You can practice inhabiting a character, which is essential for both actors and writers. You get to practice being rejected over and over again until you finally get a yes. You experience stories in a new and exciting way. All of this can apply to theater and writing.

But there are lots of other activities with more lessons to teach. Extra activities can help you heighten your emotional sensibilities, connect with other people, relax and expand your mind, refresh your bank of characters and plots, inspire a specific story, refresh your mind and body physically, keep you up to date with the modern world, teach you about the ancient one, find creative ways to market your work, and the list goes on and on. Find activities that work for you and derive your own lessons from them.

Here's a very incomplete list of extra-curricular activities that may help inspire you. It may be useful as a starting point:

-Theater/Film (acting, directing, reviewing, costume/set design, cinematography, dramaturgy, etc.)
-Improv (improv groups are a GREAT source of creative inspiration)
-Pets (breeding, training, loving, etc.)
-Mothering (this is a huge one)
-Sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting, etc.
-Sciences (biology, psychology, astrology, chemistry, etc.)
-Design (interior design, fashion design, ad campaign design, etc.)
-Physical training
-Anything else you like to do

What extra activities do you do for inspiration?

Sarah Allen


  1. Hi, Sarah

    I really like your blog. I hope you're having fun with it, and best wishes to you in your program at Brigham Young. I use a lot of the extra-curricular activities you list here to find inspiration. Sometimes I also start writing (anything - grocery list, stream of consciousness) or doodling with my non-dominant hand. For some reason that always seems to jump-start my creativity. All the best to you!

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! I really appreciate it. And great ideas, I think stretching your brain through things like the ones you suggested can be a fun and helpful activity for writers. Great suggestions :-)


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