I am going to challenge you with this article. I want you to come up with a new routine or a new trick or stunt in whatever genre it is that you work in. It could be juggling, magic, clown, or something the rest of us haven’t even thought of yet. The stunt doesn’t have to be incredible, or even something that you plan to keep, but I want you to loosen yourself up to the sense of play necessary to be more creative with your work.
I came up with a new stunt that I like quite a bit that I plan to ad to my close-up juggling arsenal. Let me explain how this stunt came about and you will get an idea about what I mean by using your sense of play to gain inspiration and creativity.
I was trying to balance a golf ball on a golf tee on my nose. This might not sound like a big deal to someone who does not make a regular practice of balancing things, but I assure you, it is a relatively high level trick. Since then (a week ago) I have managed to keep the balance up for about ten seconds, but at the time I could only get about 3 seconds. It was frustrating.
Goofing around, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could just glue the tee to my face?” Then I looked in the mirror and turned the tee around and I realized that you could spirit gum the wide end of the tee to get a kind of spike face look. I don’t suspect that I will ever pursue that. But I noticed that it kind of reminded me of a carnival game ring toss only little.
I was led to that by having an image flash across my mind of a guy who had built a large spiky suit for use as a walk-around carnival game at bars. Yeah he was kinda weird, but the image of it stuck with me.
So I started thinking about what kind of ring I could catch on a golf tee and then it hit me: my wedding ring. (Please don’t tell my wife!) At first I was holding the tee in one hand and then tossing the ring from the other. Then I realized that I could hold the tee in my teeth and kick the ring up from my foot.
Everything clicked and I was able to accomplish the trick in about the first twenty minutes. Now, a week later it is becoming semi-reliable. It is a keeper. The whole process happened because I let myself play and let my mind wander.
Start playing with a prop that you like or an item that you think is pretty neat. Seriously, all I am asking you to do at this point is goof off. Try all of the different possibilities of play that this thing offers. Now select 5 different ways to play with it and write them down.
Take each of these different ways and play with them a little more. Find a couple of subtle variations with each of these things, all the while, keep your mind in an open and free-associative state.
Think to yourself:
What does this remind me of?
If this were an animal, what would it be?
How can I alter the object to make this effect work better?
Is there a different object that I can duplicate this movement or technique with?
Is there a problem that keeps re-occuring that I can exploit for comedic potential?
Not everything we work on or play with is going to be a keeper. For many creative pursuits, like inventing, you may only keep one out of four or even one out of ten. But if you play long enough and create often enough, you will be sure to build up an impressive body of work.
Brad Weston is a writer, juggler, and creative thinker from way back. For more information about him and his work check out his website at http://www.bradweston.com
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