We just went to a Psychodrama conference in Phoenix and were inspired by some strategies that they use to help people to take action in their lives. Psychodrama is a field that uses role playing and techniques from the world of drama and stage to help people gain more insight into themselves and to bring about positive changes in their lives.
One of the most important concepts in psychodrama is the “warm-up”–getting people primed to playfully and spontaneously get them closer to taking action in their lives. We’re huge fans of “warm-up”, although we stretch the way that we use it here from the way that it is used in psychodrama. We see warming up as critical in all areas of life because being warmed-up to something can often be what helps us get from the place where we want to do something to the place where we actually do do something! In other words, many of us have things that we’ve been trying to accomplish but we often struggle with crossing the short distance between the thinking and the doing, a distance that often feels like a vast chasm.
Warm-up is important because it helps us take that first step which, often, is all that’s needed to begin the process. It moves the energy from contemplation to action–even if that action does not directly result in what needs to be accomplished actually getting done, it helps bypass situational and internal barriers.
Ways to warm yourself up to an activity include the following: Write down why you’re doing it. Imagine yourself doing it and what it would feel like if you accomplished it. Do one thing today that helps set the stage for doing the task. Find the place where you will be doing it: e.g., either in your home; in your office; at a gym; etc. Do one thing that is related to the task: e.g., if you’re trying to start exercising, take a short walk; if you’re trying to write a book, write the title and one informal paragraph on the topic; if you’re trying to do your taxes, gather last year’s tax documents; if you’re trying to downsize, find 3 boxes to store things in, etc.
Make something silly and “ugly” that you’re not attached to. Gather the materials that you will be using in the place where you will be doing the task. Set aside 5-15 minutes to engage in the activity for 3 days in a row this week without any expectations of finishing anything. Once you get started, set aside blocks of time to work on it–small blocks at first and then larger as you get involved in the process (rather than “It all has to be done next week, period!”).
Conversely, set mile markers that should be met–remember the old guidelines, measurable and doable! If you’re an extrovert, find ways to do it around other peopleIf you’re an introvert, find ways to do it alone. Because we are art therapists, we also encounter many people who are frustrated because the task they’ve set for themselves is to be more creative; e.g., self-identified “artists” or people who just want to dabble in the arts and creativity.
For all sorts of reasons–they can’t seem to make the time: e.g., internal barriers such as perfectionism and their Inner Critic; external pressures such as they’ve got money to make, taxes to organize, kids and other creatures to feed, chores to do and errands to run. And often, even when there is time, they don’t know how to get started. So here are a couple of warm-ups we recommend for getting into the creative process: Write down three things you enjoy about being creative; keep some of your art supplies in the places you inhabit most so that you can have small doses of art at any time-in the kitchen, by the TV, in your purse or backpack, at your office, in the car.
Play your art supplies–pick them up and mess around with them, scratch some marks with your pencils, play with a ball of clay, squeeze some paint out of the tube. Dialogue with your art supplies (another technique from psychodrama) and ask them what they need. Ask you Inner Artist what it needs to create and write about it. Do lower case art (see our newsletter on lower case “art”). Flip through magazines and find images that inspire you, rip them out and arrange them in different ways. Spill write about doing art (just write random thoughts about being creative, what it means to you, what you like, dislike, enjoy about it, etc.., what you hope to make, etc…). Or copy someone else’s art work that you admire.
So if you have something you’re trying to accomplish or you want to be more creative, try a couple of these warm-up techniques and let us know if they help get you started.
Warmly, Rebecca and Gioia
Right now, at this very moment, make a little piece of art work–with your straw on a napkin if you’re drinking a soda or coffee, with your pen on a post-it, with the food on your plate, with dirt in the yard or gravel on the street. Snap a picture of what you made and share it on our facebook page.