Monday, January 4, 2010

Talk To The Hand -- A Creativity Exercise

It's the first Monday of the first week of a new year in a new decade. There's no better time to begin making creativity exercise part of your regular routine.

On this auspicious occasion, I want to share a multi-purpose exercise that's more compact than double doodling and more portable than collage sprints. It's socially appropriate in most situations (hey, if it's good enough for them...). It works as a creativity warm-up ritual. It's just as effective as what I call a download exercise. In Extreme Sampling workshops, I use it after students do a hands-on sampling series to help them capture and "download" the ideas that are most important to them, converting them from short-term memory to easily accessible long-term memory.

This exercise alternates shorts burst of doodling to engage the creative, intuitive right brain with short bursts of  writing, which both satisfies and harnesses the positive energy of the logical, list-making left-brain. Here's how it works:
  1. Trace your hand. That's right, just like when you drew that Thanksgiving turkey in kindergarten.
  2. Start doodling in the thumb. Allow a minute or so for doodling (set a timer, if necessary).
  3. Somewhere outside the hand, start writing. In classes, I prompt students on what to write until they're familiar enough with the exercise to come up with their own writing prompts. Allow a minute or so for writing.
  4. Go back to doodling, and fill in a finger. 
  5. Then write. 
  6. Repeat the sequence of alternating doodling and writing until you've filled the hand with doodles and the page around it with writing.
Curious Chef Purple Kitchen Timer
You can't think what to write? Here are some suggested prompts for today. Remember to keep it short. Setting a timer really helps!
  1. Doodle in the thumb. Write: What ideas or explorations from last year did you find most exciting? Jot down a quick list.
  2. Doodle in the pointer finger. Write: (Don't peek at this until after you've jotted your list.) Circle one item on that list -- the first one you want to make sure you explore further this year.
  3. Doodle in the middle finger. Write: Jot down things you want to do as part of that exploration.
  4. Doodle in the ring finger. Write: Jot down more things you want to do as part of that exploration.
  5. Doodle in the pinkie finger. Write: Circle one item from your jottings that you can complete or begin in 30 minutes.
  6. Doodle on the back of the hand. Write: Write an "assignment" based on the item you just circled. Then write the due date for that assignment on your January calendar so you have time scheduled to get started on this exploration.
If you like this exercise, I'll post additional prompts from time to time. If you haven't already done so, you might want to sign up to receive new posts on this blog by clicking here. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is free, and it's a great way to make sure you don't miss a thing. While you're at it, you might want to subscribe to my other blog, Two Red Threads at the same time.


Daryl said...

Great exercise Donna!

Donna Kallner said...

Thanks, Daryl. I put up a link on my Facebook page and a friend pointed me to another fun doodle site. Check out

Sherri Woodard Coffey said...

I can't wait to do this one tomorrow! Thanks.