163 Ways to Unleash Your Creativity
How to Unlock Your Creativity and Self-Expression Like Never Before
Have you ever wanted to explore your creativity more deeply, but you weren’t sure where to start? Creative expression is a beautiful and healing process. But if you feel overwhelmed by the thought of it — or you don’t know where to begin — you might not ever take the first step.
I built this list to help get you thinking (and DOING!) more expansively about creative expression. Here are a whole BUNCH of ways that you can delve into self-expression and flow, no matter what your interests are. There’s no right or wrong place to start. Just experiment and let curiosity be your guide!
Intro: Reflection Questions + Developing a Creative Mindset
Before we dive into activities, let’s spend some time exploring your creative goals, as well as the obstacles you may be experiencing in your self-expression. Try taking a few minutes to think about 1–2 of these questions.
Creativity Reflection Questions
- If you gave yourself 100% permission to self-express, what would you like to create?
- What is a form of creativity that you enjoy?
- In what way would you like to expand your creativity?
- What would you need to let go of in order to live as creatively as you’d like?
- What are the barriers you experience to full self expression? Where do you think these come from?
- What did you most love to do as a child? What brings you joy now?
- If someone was sick in the hospital, what would you try to cheer them up?
- What’s one way you’d like to put yourself out there more? (Though you may feel anxiety or fear around it.)
- What are you inspired to create this week, this year, this lifetime?
- Who has inspired you to be yourself, to live full throttle, to share your vital gifts with the world? What was it about them that sparked that in you?
- What is a creative work that has inspired you?
- Do you feel jealous towards anyone, artistically/creatively? What could this feeling be telling you? (What’s missing from your life right now that you’d like more of?)
- Purpose / Service: How could you use your creativity as a form of service to others?
- How can you use your pain and hardship as the foundation for giving a unique gift to others? (Example: someone with chronic pain becomes a physical therapist)
- Creative destruction: What’s one thing that you could remove from your life that would free up space, time or energy?
Your Creative Mindset + Mission
Also, it can help to clarify your personal “creative mission.” This is completely optional, but it might help to give you some direction. If you’d like, try 1 or more of these ideas:
- Come up with a Personal Mission Statement. Write it down in a notebook, a vision board, or somewhere else that’s visible.
- Write your resolutions for the next few months. How could you nurture your Creator Artist this year?
- Sharing your healing: what is an important personal obstacle that you’ve overcome? The struggle that we personally have experienced can be a fantastic starting point for the service we provide to the world. (Fill in the blank: my job on this planet is to help people overcome _____ and feel ______).
- Medium clarification: what’s a creative medium that is calling your attention? One that you’d be excited to explore more deeply? This may or may not be something you have ANY experience with already.
163 Ways to Explore Your Creativity
I refer to these as creative “noodlings.” They’re ideas. They’re offerings. I hope they serve you well on your journey of embodying your full self and sharing it with the world.
- Try to learn an instrument that’s calling your attention
- Go to a music store and try playing an unfamiliar instrument
- Open up GarageBand and use your keyboard to play goofy drum sounds
- Listen to music from completely unfamiliar genres. (Every Noise at Once is an incredible resource for exploring new genres.)
- Compose a song by banging on household items (metal bowls and thermoses are especially well-suited for the task). Get your Stomp on.
- Share some of your favorite inspiring music with someone in your life (and ask for a sip of theirs in return.)
- Listening party! Everyone brings 1–2 songs to listen to. All genres are fair game (or create a theme!)
- Have a dance party to magnificent African/World beats and reconnect with your inner tribal warrior. (For inspiration, check out this playlist)
- Just put on joyful music! Turn up any of these songs and dance it out. I dare you to do this and not feel better! : Video — India.Arie; Just Got Paid — Sigala; Thinkin Bout You — Ciara; Taki Taki — DJ Snake
- Learn fun and easy (or challenging) dance moves! (Also see 23 Hip-Hop Dance moves by Rhhyme Doley for some legendary steps.)
- Check out Dance Church and join them for some high-quality booty-shaking.
- Take a class in a dance or movement style that will stimulate your creativity. Some of my favorites have included capoeira, salsa and hip hop.
- Do your best end-zone victory dance
- Do the fork in the garbage disposal!!
- Listen to some electroswing and let your body flap around to it in whatever wonderful way it chooses.
- Listen to a 10-minute didgeridoo track and noodle your body into the shape of those sounds. (Here’s a great track to start with).
- Animal movement: spend 1 minute moving around your apartment like an animal of your choice (sloth and crab are some of my personal favorites). Then switch to a new one. Repeat 10x!
- Karate chop the air. A bunch. For 5–10 minutes straight. (Really show it who’s boss!). Suggested soundtrack: 80s jams like Footloose and Danger Zone.
- Use your body to explore how life would be if we were actually just vegetables with legs
- Energy Ball: similar to Tai Chi, imagine that you have an energy ball between your hands. Spend a few minutes moving this ball around, stretching it, rolling it over different parts of your body… try to focus and really sink into the sensation.
- Try out some staff spinning! This is part of the larger movement of practices known as Flow Arts. (I recently got an LED-light staff from Flow Toys and it’s ridiculously fun.)
- Trail run! Find a new path, let your mind wander, explore what your body desires. (I like to pretend I’m on the hunt, chasing a wild deer, running from an anaconda… that sorta thing)
- Contact improv! Try out some simple partner movements, with the goal of maintaining physical contact throughout the activity. (Example: Irene Sposetti & Johan Nilsson)
Play + Games
- Improv games. These are a gift from the heavens. Knowing a couple games can be an amazing tool for bringing joy and connection to whatever group you find yourself in. Some of my favorites from this list are “Yes, Let’s”, “The Party” and “Helping Hands.”
- Play a game that stimulates your creativity (right brain, rather than left). For example, Charades, Guesstures, Heads Up, Pictionary, Concept, Would You Rather…
- Partner laser tag: pretend that you have laser guns and you’re in an epic face-off in outer space. Flip over the couch, hide behind grandma, shoot lasers that bounce off the TV screen. There are no rules in space!
- Play the Vegetable Game! (Apparently only found on “drinking games” websites, but you can 100% play this game sober and have a blast.)
- Car jam: round up some favorite songs, put in headphones and belt it! (Singing in the car is an AWESOME option if you’re looking for privacy)
- Try 2 minutes of scatting over some instrumental jazz! (For inspiration, check out Ella Fitzgerald — Scat Singing). Need an instrumental jazz playlist? Here’s one for ya!
- Karaoke! Use an app, sing solo, sing with a friend, or schedule a karaoke bar social outing.
- Put on some throwbacks and jam out to ’em. Your neighbors will be jealous.
- Go to YouTube and find some choir music. (Example!) Try to sing along with any of the voices you hear. Think about becoming ONE with the voice (and even if you can’t, who cares! You’re exploring.)
- If you want to get started on the right foot, get a good vocal warmup in before you launch into your singing glory.
- Free association write for 20 minutes. Plain and simple. You’d be surprised what this can unlock.
- Write a 2-page summary to send to aliens in a distant galaxy about humans and why we are the way we are.
- Write a 2-line poem describing the world you would design if you could start everything over from scratch
- Use what’s out there! Try writing a couple pages to one of these prompts.
- Write a poem based on a theme (an emotion, a value, a question…)
- Write out a list of every person who’s been an inspiration to you, and a note about why they’ve been so important. (Bonus points: share with one of them that they’re in your thoughts!)
- Write out the mistakes you’ve made in your life and what you would do differently if you could. (Feel free to hide or destroy this one after if you’d like!)
- Write a letter to your past self. What do you wish you’d known as a 10 year old? As a 16 year old?
- Write a letter to a total stranger and send it to a random address in your state. (I’ve done this! Never heard back, but boy was it exhilarating.)
- Write a haiku based on your most recent obsessive thought
- Try writing a few stories in six words or less.
- Journal about a cherished memory. Let yourself reminisce and take in the warmth!
- Find a picture you enjoy and try to copy it. Just do your best — it’s TOTALLY OK if it looks like a 4-year-old’s chickenscratch the first time.
- Scribble your feelings with crayons, markers, chalk, anything. Bonus points: hold the pen in your first like a kid would. Make an effort to make zero judgments or evaluations about what you’re creating. Just allow your hand to move and try to become a channel.
- Draw your inner cast of characters. What shape is your inner critic? What does your inner couch potato look like? What species is your inner warrior hero?
- Listen to some ambient music and draw whatever shapes and colors come to mind (Helios is a favorite of mine)
- Draw some Zentangles.
- Draw the monsters that used to live under your bed
- Create a map of all the important people in your life, with notes about special memories you share.
- Create a stack of quote cards based on life lessons you’ve learned so far. Put them on your kitchen table. (Your original quotes or ones that have inspired you.)
- Create a Vision Board (or binder, notebook, etc.) with pictures and words representing your goals, dreams, hopes and vision of your higher self.
- Create a physical photo album to commemorate this year, this decade, or a specific relationship
- Wire sculptures: get some some copper wire and wire clippers from a hardware store. Bend the wire into whatever beautiful (or hideous!) shapes you’d like. For inspiration, check out these examples.
- Build a collage of images that you simply enjoy. Just because. (Another fun one is a “Bucket List collage”).
- Grab some sidewalk chalk, a good pump-up playlist (plus a UE Boom, if you don’t have a portable speaker), and let your inner child go buck-wild for a while.
- Build a terrarium and put it on your living room table
Organization / House / Design
- Switch two objects in your house. See what kind of new energy this introduces.
- Find an interesting new way to organize your kitchen, bedroom, etc.
- Dedicate a room to sitting on the floor. Fill it with soft materials, floor cushions, and blankets. Perfect for writing, relaxing, snuggling…
- Pick a country or culture (Thailand, hip hop, New Orleans jazz, anything!) and decorate a room in that style.
- Rearrange the furniture in your living room. Completely flip it around!
- Make a fort in your living room!
- Design a beautiful living room. (Pinterest is a great place to get ideas).
Painting / Physical Art
- Buy some spray paint and go graffiti-mode on an old wooden board.
- Go Jackson Pollock-style on a big blank canvas. (Being outside is recommended!)
- Fingerpaint!! Throw on some overalls for added flare and creative kid-power.
- Try photography. Get out in the world and see what calls your attention.
- Take a pottery class.
- Pick 5 random ingredients and make a dish using only these items.
- Choose a cuisine and spend a week trying to cook in only that style.
- Create your own “cookbook” of 5 favorite recipes. Send it to your family and close friends. (Add a personal intro page as a preface!)
- Chop veggies into weird shapes. Make every shape different!
- Potluck time! Invite people over for a shared meal. One rule: everyone has to cook something they’ve never made before!
- Combine 2 things you’ve never combined before. Show the world your creation.
- Open up a sound board and try to emulate whatever noises tickle your fancy.
- Watch a nature documentary and make the sound that each animal would use to call out to its friends.
- Google “pictures of old machines” and spend 20 seconds making the sound you think each one of them made. (For inspiration, check out Instagram #oldmachinery).
- Make WHALE SOUNDS! The humpbacks welcome your solidarity and friendship.
- Spend 5 minutes having a typical conversation in robot-speak. For example, tell your partner about what you did today (in beeps, boops and whatever other sounds arise).
- Yodel. Just yodel your heart out for a few minutes.
- Sit in your living room and repeat the sounds you hear from any source around you. (For example: the refrigerator hum, a garbage truck, your cell phone text tone…)
Catharsis / Expressing Anger
- Put on angry music in the car and unleash whatever sounds are needing to escape your beautiful human container.
- Alternatively, get headphones on and thrash around to some crazy anger music. Here’s one place to start.
- Primal scream! To quote this article, “Scream in your car, scream underwater, scream in a forest, scream when a loud train passes by, or — the old standby — scream into a pillow. There’s no wrong way to let it out except, of course, keeping it in.”
- Whomp on a punching bag for while. Be careful and all that, but… you know, whomp it good!
- Ice cube destruction! Fill an ice tray (ideally a sphere-shaped one) and wait for the water to freeze. Then, find a big, sturdy wall and launch your ice at it! Let your fear, anger, pain and anything else shatter into the wall in an explosion of emotional release.
- Burning bowl ceremony. This ritual involves burning anything you’d like to release. On strips of paper, write down beliefs, thoughts, or anything else you’d like to let go of. Then, in a burning bowl, light the paper and allow it to transform. (Here’s a more thorough walkthrough.)
- Push as hard as you can on immovable objects like trees, walls, and grand pianos
- Medicine ball slams. These are amazing.
- Running, cycling, lifting weights and basically any other kind of vigorous exercise can be a wonderful outlet for getting your anger out of your body and lightening your psychic load.
- Accents! Find a YouTube video of 20+ accents and try to replicate each one. Amazing example here!
- Watch a video of celebrity impersonations. Pick your favorite and try to learn it!
- Give a speech to an imaginary dinner party of foreign dignitaries
- Give a toast at an imaginary wedding in honor of the Duke of Suffolk
- Partner pig Latin: Have a conversation where you try to plan a grocery store trip in all Pig-Latin
- Put on some instrumental hip hop beats and freestyle your heart out (content-wise, there’s two great places to start: 1. the rags-to-riches story of your life, and 2. how much better you are than other rappers)
- Set a 5 minute timer and just rant about everything you can possibly think of.
Acting / Role Play / Theater
- Act out your inner characters. What does your guardian angel sound like? How about the judgmental teenager in you? How does your inner Beyonce walk around?
- Pretend you’re a boxer and throw some punches at your imaginary arch-enemy. Hoodie on, hood up of course. Here’s your pump-up soundtrack.
- Neanderthal game: speak in only single-syllable words. Inspired by Poetry for Neanderthals. Try to have at least one complete conversation like this without cracking.
- Play a good ol’ fashioned game of charades.
- Try to impersonate some of the people in your life. What are their mannerisms? How do their voices sound? What are the phrases they’re always repeating?
- Give a motivational speech to a pretend audience. Audience ideas: young kids, 10 year old you, you in your time of hardship, the little engine that could, halftime at middle school football game…
- Tell the story of your life, out loud, with a 5-minute time limit
- Record a voice memo with the story of the best day of your life so far. (And send it to someone!)
- Inspirational story sharing: record a video where you talk about a time you felt inspired — or a person who sparked excitement in you. Walk us through the experience. Post in on social media or send out an email to your friends. Why not?!
- Tell someone about a time when you got to put your talents into action
Clothes / Appearance
- Go to a thrift store and get 3–4 items from a completely new style. Allow yourself the freedom of being something new. Of being fluid.
- Put on a piece of clothing that’s tucked away and isn’t getting the love it deserves
- Put on your favorite and silliest piece of clothing
- Cross-dressing: spend an evening dressing up in a gender or social role that’s less familiar to you
- Costume party! Everyone dresses up as a historical figure and acts like them for the whole evening.
- Take $20 to Goodwill and buy yourself the most absurd costume piece you can. Debut it at your next gathering (or, of course, you can delight people — and get your self-expression on — by walking down the street with it on).
- Dye your hair! Because… why not?
Inspiration / Getting Creative Juices Flowing
- Get The Artist’s Way and start journeying through it. This book will change your LIFE!
- People watch! I like imagining the life story of everyone who’s passing by. What are they about? What worries or excites them?
- Research something totally unfamiliar (a documentary about clownfish, the history of needlepoint, how rubber ducks are made, and so on)
- Change your scenery (go to a new place — a garden, cafe, museum, street corner).
- 2 minutes of listening: ask, “What is my creator artist wanting? What am I on this planet to create? What am I feeling inspired to create this week, this year, this lifetime?”
- Take a walk outside. Simple as that.
- Create an Ideas Notebook! This can be as simple as a note in your phone with random ideas: funny things, project ideas, quotes you enjoy…
- Put “Creation Time” blocks on the calendar (a.k.a. Artist Dates!)
- Daydream! Do nothing. Stare at nothingness. Allow your mind to wander for a few minutes.
- Establish a creativity-boosting routine. What kinds of music, smells, clothes, etc. put you in a creative mood?
- Create some Creativity Courage Cards for yourself. Feed your creator artist with these cards when you start to experience doubt!
- Write out 10 bad ideas for mystery novels. Let yourself play!
- Practice “creative grazing.” (Get ideas from anywhere! The internet is an incredible resource.) Some awesome sources include Pinterest, Dribble and Behance.
- Organize your own “creative cluster” or accountability group (i.e. people who want to flex their creative muscles and would appreciate some group support).
- Google some local events that might stimulate your strangeness.
- Post on Facebook asking if anyone else is trying to explore their weirdness and creativity, and if they’d also like a creativity buddy to adventure with
- Post on Instagram, asking “What’s one thing you enjoy doing even though it’s silly and potentially embarrassing?” Anyone who answers might be a member of your weirdness tribe!
- Find a meetup that you normally would NOT go to. Sign up and put it on the calendar. For science!
- Make it a family activity! Invite your family to join you in a creative outlet that you enjoy.
- Post something on social media that’s been sitting on your computer / in your room for years
- Use “Table Topics” conversation cards to explore some new territory with the people in your life.
- Play “We’re Not Really Strangers” and dive in!
- For bridging the gap between you and your English-limited parents: Parents Are Human Too. (Created by a friend!)
- Have a whole conversation without using pronouns (I, you, we, it, etc)
Social Experiments in Creativity
- Write REALLY kind messages for strangers in public spaces with sidewalk chalk
- Come up with an interesting interview question and ask random people on the street to answer. (Tell them it’s for a school or volunteer project — they’re more likely to play along!)
- Invite your neighbors over for a drink, dinner, etc. You never know what creative creatures may be living in your midst!
- Text someone with a simple idea or request for how you would like your relationship to be different. For example, “Hey Ashley! A little out of the blue, but I was thinking: I’d love to spend more time going out dancing with you.”
- Plan a prank or surprise.
- Busk / Perform publicly. Put out a tip jar! Even as a beginner! (Put up a sign that says “I’m learning!”)
- Empty Chair technique: imagine that someone important in your life — a friend, a relative — is sitting in a chair across from you. Have a conversation with them. Ask questions, share thoughts… you might be surprised at what arises.
- Try some totally new approaches to your health. Acupuncture, boost your flexibility, Wim Hof method, intermittent fasting, EFT tapping… there are nearly infinite ways to expand your health and wellness toolkit.
- Completely change your diet for a month.
- Think of a creative way that you could give back to your community. The best place to start is: what activities bring you joy? And who might be able to benefit from that kind of thing? (I refer to this as Joyful Service and my goal is to fill my life with it!)
- Do a community service project with a target audience that’s less familiar to you. You’ll probably be inspired and moved by this new encounter and the perspective it brings.
- Try to come up with 20 ideas for products to solve a certain problem. (For example, can you think of 20 ideas for new modes of transportation? Or new tools to help vision-impaired people navigate the world more easily?)
- Check out Rotary International service projects and look for inspiration. How could you use your creativity and energy to help others?
- What’s one thing that you could remove from your life that would free up space, time or energy?
- What’s the #1 activity that consumes energy but gives you the least reward? What’s one small step you could take to replace this time with something more meaningful?
- Is there a space in your house or apartment that you could clear out to make space for a “creativity corner”? (This is a place to store your supplies, vision board, notebooks, etc. A place that’s YOURS and that brings you joy and energy.)
Other / Miscellaneous
- Create an outdoor garden or kitchen herb garden
- Jokes: Try writing a few jokes about things you observe in the world
- Still life story: with 3 objects from your house, arrange a still-life scene that tells an interesting story.
- Start a collection! (Or continue one. You probably already have one going, whether you realize it or not.)
- Pretend you’ve lived on a remote island and never seen inorganic objects before. Explore the objects in your house with a child-like wonder. What is the weirdest looking one?
- Exploration! Wander around your city. Take a walk in your neighborhood and look for things you’ve never noticed before. When you step into the explorer spirit, every space becomes an opportunity for new learning, play and surprise.
That’s all, folks! Of course, this is only a “tasting platter.” There are infinite ways to explore your Creator Self and the wisdom that it can offer you. Take these, experiment, play with them… I consider these noodlings as “doorways” — potential paths, handy tools… all part of the beautiful and essential process of our collective awakening.
I also work with people individually and in private groups. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my website. I’d be delighted to hear from you!