Friday, 5 November 2010

Creativity in Colour

First I have to confess that this post is a little bit of a cheat because this was a task set by our tutor to help start off the creative process in our writing. I wanted to share it though, because it was a lot of fun to do, and I can see it as a useful tool when inspiration doesn't come easily.

The task - choose a colour, either one you love or that you never wear. Choose a piece of music that matches the colour in your mind. Sit in isolation with your eyes closed and the music playing. Picture the colour in your head. Then free write, without correcting, without grammar, whatever comes into your mind, as fast as you can.

I choose green - emerald green to be specific, though I don't think the exact shade was required! And my piece of music was the theme from Harry's Game by Clannad - the reasoning behind that may become apparent later on.

I felt a little silly sitting there and thinking green thoughts, but then I picked up my pen and scribbled furiously for the requisite minimum of five minutes, and a little beyond. This is what I came up with.

Emerald green makes me think of velvet, soft and warm. The medieval tunic I bought with a long pixie hood, laced up the front with black cord and through little brass rings, like something out of a book by Tolkien - elves and magic.

Walking through deep, dark pine woods. Needles all glossy green, the dead brown ones crunching slightly under my feet. Soothing silence and the smell of resin. The smell of damp. Black soil beneath the needles as I dig them up with the toe of my boot.

Thick grass shaking in the wind on the hillside in Ireland. (Here the association to Clannad leapt to mind - Irish!) A long green slope down the the cliff's edge before it falls into the sea. Even the water looks green - beautiful blue-grey-green under a cloudy sky.

A circle of stones on the Isle of Arran.Three huge stark slabs of slate or something, 10, 12 feet tall with long brown streaks down them like rust. Grassy slopes leading up to them and then down the other side, open moorland.

Tiny emeralds in a ring my mum wore, one of them missing, replaced by another paler stone.

Pistachio icecream.

Lime cordial, so hard to find now. Am I the only person in the world who drinks it?

Peppermint cordial. Tastes like toothpaste, ug! But looks so pretty in the bottle, clear emerald green.

The task itself is not that far from the methods I use when I get stuck - music and images - but having it set as a specific exercise with rules seemed to work far better, and is something that I will use again. I also found myself writing the outline to my fourth book shortly afterwards - although there's nothing 'green' about it, clearly my muse had found the task inspiring!

So do you have any special methods for inspiring your muse? Would you share them, or are they your secret? :)

For those interested, I'm currently studying 'A174 - Start Writing Fiction' with the Open University. Please click on the links to find out more.


  1. Beautiful imagery! You have such a vivid mind, and you use words well. I could see every image.

  2. What great imagery, I must admit I've never tried that method before (think of colour whilst listening to music) but I may have to now!

  3. I think the music fits the colour very well. It's a good piece of diverse writing and I can see how it could lead in other directions. Was this set for one of your tutorials? If so, it was very different from ours.

    For some reason I cannot comment with my wordpress blog.

  4. Sorry Pip for using your blog as a test site. I managed to post on Gayle's using my new blog so I'm just trying it again.

  5. @Gayle and Diana - yes, this was set as one of our exercises. It never occurred to me that none of the other groups didn't do it!
    @placeoftranquility - no worries! :)


I always love to hear your thoughts.