The Creativity Workshop

Using the Tools of Creative Writing, Memoir, Art, Photography, Storytelling and Mindfulness

Creativity Workshop Exercises

Creativity Workshop Exercises

by Shelley Berc and Alejandro Fogel

Body Relaxation

A 5-minute period in which you tighten and release muscle groups, starting at the toes, then calves, buttocks, belly, chest, shoulders, head and hands. The purpose of the tightening and releasing is to give your body a clear sense of what relaxed means as compared to what tense feels like. The contrast is helpful to your body’s knowledge. It is important to relax before and during creative work because tension makes it hard to think or access inspiration. Stress makes it hard to ‘be in the moment’, which is the home of creative experiment and expression.

Guided Visualization

The main purpose of guided visualization is for the instructor to create the framework/plot, freeing the participant to elaborate and extend his/her individual reaction or ‘take’ on the story. You can make up your own visualizations using archetypal frameworks such as:

Fairy tales (Meeting your Grandmother under the sea)




Participants share fragments of work in groups of 2. There is only one rule: they whisper as they share. This technique allows for a sense of intimacy, sharing without convincing any one of anything. It is a way to speak inwardly and outwardly at the same time, which is a good metaphor for the creative process.

Show and Tell

Bring something to the workshop, from your childhood or representational of it. It should be an object you would hate to lose. Pass the object around to the other participants as you tell them about it. This is an exercise in sharing memories through objects and as such sharing our histories. Also, a fertile ground for creative work to come. Objects here are like snow globes: a visual shortcut to describe our lives and times.

Automatic Drawing

Draw a frame on your piece of paper.

Make a single geometric shape several times over a piece of blank paper. These shapes are your ‘stimuli.

Draw lines between and all over the shapes.

Then see what images you can delineate from erasing or adding lines or shading to your automatic drawing.

Take ten minutes a day to do automatic drawings. Remember to keep your hand relaxed, and try not to think, just enjoy the feeling of pencil on paper and the rhythm of your hand as it moves across the white space.

Automatic Writing Solo

Write a word (like the stimulus shape of automatic drawing) on your paper. Write it over and over. Do it with your eyes shut. It doesn’t matter if you can read it. Then start writing a lot of words without thinking before writing (if you can). Keep going with this and you will find pattern, stories, and interior logic within the ‘jungle of words’.

Automatic writing works best when practiced on a daily basis. Make a 20-minute commitment to automatic writing (or drawing or a combo of both) every day and you will find an amazing body of work.

Automatic Writing with a Partner

Listen to each other’s automatic writing and choose words or phrases you like from your partner’s automatic writing. Incorporate them into a new automatic writing that you do so your words and the ones you appropriated ‘live’ together. Then read each other what you wrote. Notice how changed your words are in the context of another’s imagination. Repeat the exercise again.

The Interview

We work in groups of 2. Each person interviews the other about his or her life. It could be a moment in their life, the whole life, etc. the main thing is to catch the soul of the person you are interviewing. Take at least an hour and make the interviews leisurely and relaxed. Come back to class and present your partner’s life as if you were they—as in: ‘I, Mary, was born in New York’.

The interview is good for developing empathy for the life of another very quickly. Notice what happens when you speak of another person and instead of saying ‘she’ or ‘he’, you say ‘I’.

Miniature Worlds

Bring 10 (all different) tiny objects that fit all together in the palm of your hand. In class give your objects to the person next to you and viceversa. You then have half an hour to create a little play using those objects. You must use all of them. Allow 20 minutes for completion. Share in groups

3D Journey Map

If you have a certain amount of written and drawn material, creativity is inevitable. Take what you have done in the workshop, as well as 10 additional photos or language from magazines and put it all together into a 3D journey map on large sheets of paper. Use the actual material or copies thereof and also include a ‘disrupting’ or random phrase. Allow 40 minutes to see what kind of journey the fragments evolve into. Allow 40 minutes and share in groups.

Abigail Hunt
Design Thinker: Leadership Development & Innovation at Deloitte, London, United Kingdom
“The workshop was exactly the right thing at the right time for me. Shelly and Alejandro hit just the right note in terms of content and leadership ...
Kelly Hevel
Pfizer Project Manager, currently Ex-pat Business Consultant, Istanbul, Turkey
“This was my fourth time taking The Creativity Workshop, and every time it has been different and special. These workshops have helped me transform ...
Dr. Alice Daum Coen
Educator/Administrator, Hartford County, Maryland Public Schools, Hartford County, MD
“I've taken your Workshops twice! They have become a precious part of the ongoing tapestry of this journey called life. And, in deep, deep winter I ...