Random Acts of Inspiration: 100 Prompts to Change My Mind

I am often caught in a pattern of repetitive negative thinking and my brain needs a little jolt to skip into a more positive creative groove. Lately I have been stuck in a rut of thick mental clay slowing my wheels to sludgy crawl and the more I am mired in this muddy situation, the more I am prone to sink into hopeless depressing thoughts that becomes a feedback loop, sapping my will to climb out of the wallow.

Yesterday I came across a description of a deck of cards developed by musician, composer and master record producer Brian Eno and a visual artist Peter Schmidt called Oblique strategies: Over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas. Each card had printed on it brief instructions for an intervention in the creative process which were often cryptic and open ended and immediate to jar the reader onto a new mental track. This seemed like a good idea, but I needed a little more action-oriented approach to get me inspired to do something that would lead to active engagement that could lead to new projects and ways of perceiving and interacting with the world. So I made a random list and unlike my past to do lists I am working through it randomly using dice so I can’t over plan or find a perfect time to do whatever number comes up. I am taking a very randomized and relaxed approach so that I will actually do the activity to some degree. So far I have completed 3 prompts with various adjustments and it has a been very helpful process for getting out of rutty thinking into a more engaged creative state of mind. I have borrowed some prompts from textbooks and art activity books from my preschool days and college art study, and a lot of mine are physical exercise oriented due to my training as a physical therapist. I tried to stretch my boundaries to provide some challenge and take me out of my comfort zone, but not too far. I am sure I will be tweaking this list quite a bit. So far it is working pretty well. Just making the list has been a little inspiring.

100 Prompts to Change My Mind

1. Ask someone to tell you a story or have someone tell you about something they did and write their words as accurately as possible making sure to get as many details by asking clarifying questions without interrupting the flow of the speaker.

2. Listen to people interacting and recreate the interaction as accurately as possible

3. Sit in one place for as long as possible observing objectively trying to note all the sensory input. Take notes on all you feel, see, hear, smell and sense. Try doing this in many locations with and without people present indoors and outside.

4. Do any activity for up to 100 minutes.

5. Go outside for 1 min. every 10 to 20 min for 3 hours or change your location for 1 min. every 10 to 20 min.

6. Travel (Drive, walk, bicycle etc.) a random amount of miles in a random direction.

7. Take the first bus that stops at the closest bus stop and walk back from wherever it takes you.

8. Interact with a living creature (persons included) for up to an hour trying to discern what they would most like to do.

9. Visualize something inside a room or frame and think about what is outside of the walls or frame.

10. Walk to work.

11. Call someone you know.

12. Play with a ball for up to 60 minutes.

13. Make a portrait of someone you know from a photograph and write something you remember about them.

14. Make up a dance or draw or paint a composition to a complete piece of music or song.

15 Make up a simple game that you could teach someone else.

16. Walk around your neighborhood as if you were looking for clues and anthropological details. List what you notice.

17. learn and perform a song you do not currently perform from memory.

19. Express your love for someone in a way that they will appreciate.

20. Cut a picture in half and complete the other half any way you want. Or take a picture and extend it beyond its limited frame.

21. Define your concepts of sins and virtues. How can you communicate this clearly.

22. Make a sculpture or object or Find objects that feel right ( useful/good/ comfortable/interesting) in your hand.

23. Draw a page full of 3 dimensional objects and shapes.

24. Design a building for an imaginary use or for the use of imaginary creatures.

25. Think of up to 20 improbable or impossible things. 1/31/22

26. Write a letter to someone you can no longer contact or a person you don’t know or an imaginary person or character from a book or play. Then write a response from that person.

27. Write a letter or post card to someone and mail it.

28. Make a page of fancy letters.

29.  Make an illustration for each of 5 words of your choice. Try to make them so somebody else will be able to guess the words without reading them.

30. Paint with something that is not paint.

31. Make a skeleton or structural support for something.

30. Play around with yarn or string.

31. Draw an animal.

32. Concentrate on a detail of an object until you are positive that you know it visually then use your fingers to explore with your eyes closed.

33. Close your eyes. Imagine a dark room with a candlelight flickering illuminating 5 people. Who are they? Why are they there?

34. Imagine a place you would like to live: Describe it, do an active search for it, create a visual representation or collect pictures of similar places. 1/30/22

35. Use yarn or thread and cloth to create something. Knitting, crochet, sewing, stitching, gluing, stapling.

36. Imagine how some well-known creative person you admire or are familiar with would represent/express/approach a situation or problem you are involved in.

37. Draw or find a picture of a landscape and tell a story that is set there or something that occurred there.

38. Face a mirror. Make as many facial expressions and poses as you can think of. Use props or costumes if you want.

39. Model something 3 dimensional in a soft medium: Clay, dough, modeling clay etc.

40. Play or play around with a musical instrument for at least an hour.

41. Imagine a door with a sign reading Death. Describe the door and what you see when you open it.

42. Draw a monster or explore a frightening subject by writing a song or story.

43. Choose up to 100 colors fill a piece of paper with a design using all the colors.

44. Express the point of view of someone you disagree with as if you sincerely agreed with them.

45 Take a walk identify as many plants and animals as you can. Be specific. Consult guidebooks and make lists as needed.

46. Think of 5 worst case scenarios and 5 solutions no matter how improbable for each.

47. Fix something.

48. Clean something.

49. Remove something from each room of your home.

50. Put up a new picture in each room of your home.

51. Consult the I Ching.

52. Perform a tarot reading concerning a current problem.

53. Do something that makes you nervous or uncomfortable.

54. Bake something.

55 Remain still and silent as long as you can.

56. Write down, dramatize, draw a picture, construct a diorama or poem or somehow recreate or express the feelings or depict images from a dream you remember clearly.

57. Write a list of people who have helped you as well as aspects of your life about which you feel positive. Concentrate on each with a feeling of gratitude.

58. Make a list of ten things you wish would change about your life or the world in general and at least 10 ways each item could change for better or worse. Put no limitations on your ideas.

59. Spend up to 60 min. remembering something about all the places you visited or lived.

60. Remind yourself of up to 10 people you haven’t heard from or thought about in a long time.

61. Do something right now that you need or want to do that you have been putting off.

62. Challenge your body.

63. Go to church. 1/30/22

64. Begin a poem.

65. Begin a new story.

66. Take 10 to 60 photos of one group of objects or single object or location from different angles or lighting. Each photo should relate to each other in some way while being unique in some way.

67. Make up a song.

68. Create something using random methods.

69. Meditate for 2 to 20 min.

70. Write 5 interesting sentences.

71. Make a list of 5 things you are afraid to deal with and come up with a first step for dealing with each item on the list.

72. Read one piece of writing you find in a random manner for at least 1 hour.

73. Rewrite a paragraph or page from a book you are reading in your own words.

74. Memorize a speech, quotation or poem or scene from a play so that you can recite it confidently.

75. Start a new practice or daily activity you can continue for 20 to 400 days.

76. Use, play or interact with something you have not used in a long while.

77. Write a scene for 2 to 12 characters with dialogue and description or as screenplay or play with stage directions and lighting etc..

78. Find a new exercise or movement and practice it until you can reproduce it confidently.

79. Make a mistake on purpose.

80. Face west at sunset.

81. Send a message to many people or a post on a blog etc. about what is most important to you at this moment or a strong feeling you have had in the recent past.

82. Make a self-portrait in any medium.

83. Do 100 jumping jacks and choose again.

84. Find a random location and plan a trip there.

85. Visualize or look at one color while repeating another color name verbally or reading another color name. You could do this with a simple object and the name of another object as well. Sit with this for 1 to 10 min x 1 to 10 iterations.

86. Find a word at random (in a dictionary, thesaurus, or random page of print) and locate that word in 5 other places.

87. Move around your home blind folded for 6 to 60 min..

88. Throw something at a target 50 to 500 times.

89. Use earplugs to reduce your hearing for 1 to 6 hours.

90. No screens for 5 hours.

91. Have a conversation with someone you don’t know well or with a complete stranger.

92. play a drum or percussion instrument or use anything available to play rhythms for 10 to 60 minutes while either listening to music or not.

93. Make a timeline of an event in your life or history with contributing antecedent factors and consequences after the event. Make predictions if it is an ongoing event.

94. Design a sign, bumper sticker, or poster and produce a reproduceable prototype with appropriate dimensions.

95. Write continuously for 3 to 60 min..

96. Make a list of all the people you know or have known. Spend 5 to 60 minutes.

97. Imagine what 5 people you know are doing right now or how they would deal with your situation.

98. Make up 5 random characters or use 5 people you know or knew and imagine how they would interact and change or come into and resolve conflicts or support each other.

99. Think of 5 people you have known for over 5 years. They can be someone you know now or knew at some point in the past. Think of the ways they have changed or changed when you knew them and the ways they stayed the same.

100. Do something extraordinary.

All activities should be modified for success and in a process rather than product-oriented manner.

This entry was posted in All part of the process, anthropology, bodyworks, change, Check this out, discovery and recovery, lists, mindworks, my museum of inspiration, paying attention, personal history, Self-Experiments, thinking in words, Works in Progress and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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