By Brenda Riojas, I Start Wondering Columnist
Did you ever play the game truth or dare? What in human nature draws us to take a dare? I think it stems from our need for a challenge. We have writing challenges, health and fitness challenges, photography challenges…the list is endless.
Why not structure our own challenge, one which pushes us to reach a creativity goal?
Start by indicating your desired outcome. At the moment I need to challenge myself to write more, and a second not-so-creative goal (but one that needs some focus) is to purge the excess from my home, especially my closets.
Next, outline some steps you can take daily to reach your goal. It helps to establish some specific parameters or procedures.
Including some constraints provides for an added layer of creativity. For example, Diana Dominguez, a professor and poet I admire, prefers writing traditional poetry forms to free verse.
While constraints may seem limiting, they can actually serve as a boost and lead to some unexpected surprises. Diana says the structure leads to some creative combinations and results which she might not have discovered had she not been forced to rethink of another word or phrase to fit the indicated form.
When I committed to an eight-week online spiritual retreat a few years ago, I decided to respond to the questions in the form of a poem instead of journaling. Each poem, the word length and structure – among some of the parameters I set — depended on the reading of the day.
When I wrote my collection of persona poems, I designated specific mornings to write. Before I went to sleep the night before, I would pick a name out of a wooden box . These names were of the women whose voices I would be taking on in the poems I would write when I woke up the next day.
Creating a challenge provides a structure that pushes us to:
1. Make a commitment
3. Take Action.
It can be a week-long challenge, a 30-day challenge or a year-long challenge. The choice is yours.
When we accept a challenge, even one we set for ourselves, we are more disposed to commit. We have a natural inclination to reach a finish line, which is easier when we have a clear focus. For those of us who are easily distracted or have multiple projects in the works, setting a target is essential.
The best part about rising to a challenge – action. Following the framework you put in place, you will see an increase in your productivity. Depending on what I am working on, I have found personal challenges push me to successful outcomes. I never would have imagined participating in a triathlon, but for my 50th birthday my sister signed us up for a sprint triathlon. This gave me the focus I needed to get back in shape and start eating healthy.
Whatever the challenge we take, it’s about being intentional and setting aside time for our creative selves to take flight. Ready, set, go! Take up your pen, your paint brush, your choice of tool. Go create. I dare you to!