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February 21, 2019
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Creative exercise: Flipping the switch

by Tora Teig on 05/13/11 06:59:00 am

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
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Hello you! Here is my little creative exercise. I am going to have to ask you to pick up a drawing utensil for this. Pen and paper, a tablet, a post-it or whatever you have available. Don’t fret if you’re not an artist, no particular skill is required.

We’re just going to skip right to it. I really can’t tell you anything, you just have to trust me. Do as I say and I’ll explain afterwards, I would tell you now but it will totally ruin everything.

I want you to draw a house. Draw a house right now. Don’t worry, just draw that house, nobody is going to see it unless you want them to. Go ahead, I won’t look. I promise. So finish it, and then read on!

Okay, you better have drawn that house now, I’m warning you.

Let’s move on then!

Make a quick assessment of your drawing. No artistic criticism, just check what’s there and address the general idea. Does your house have a door? Does it have windows? A roof? Would you categorize your drawing of a house as the kind that people actually live in? Is your house in a tree? How many eyes does your house have?

It is very likely that you have drawn a house in any variety of this:
My house 

A house as we know a house, as we have been taught from infancy. And there is nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with drawing a house that looks like a house. After all, I asked you to. But how creative is the interpretation of your assignment?

So see, the point is to change the mindset. When someone tells you to create something, to solve a task, how about doing that, but twisting it to the least expected thing? Flip the mind to approach the task differently, always in an unorthodox manner.

I could have told you to draw a house in the clouds made of fudge, or a house of human muscle with a thousand terraces on a rock above a roaring sea. When given orders like that it’s not hard to do the unexpected. But when being told to create something we know, we rarely go out of our head to create something weird and unique with it.

It is hard to be creative when given orders, and sometimes it’s abundant to be “outside the box” too, but it is about keeping the creative juices flowing constantly. Always being in that heightened state. So whenever we approach a creative task, we will always give that little extra to surprise ourselves. It doesn’t have to be so weird that it loses meaning, but it goes to show that we often constrain the mind to do the same it has always done.

So this exercise is about a switch in our brain, not about drawing skills or about houses. This doesn’t only apply to drawing, it applies to pretty much anything that is a creative outlet.

 The next time you are asked to create something that you have preconceptions about – try pushing those boundaries and see what you come up with. I can’t guarantee it is going to be great, I can’t guarantee that it will be exactly what your customer, audience or your boss wanted. But I can guarantee, if you really concentrate on keeping that switch flipped – that one day you are going to deliver creative concepts far beyond the box. So, go nuts. Change the rules and flip the switch.


I want you to draw a house.

P.S. I did promise I wasn't going to look, but I would actually love to see your house! And if you want to share both the first and the second one, that would be awesome sauce! 

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