A friend of mine went to a creativity workshop in Europe (something I would die to do). When he returned, he told me all about his experience and what it taught him. What I got from all the activities that he told me about is that creativity can only blossom when all worry and doubt leaves your mind. The projects he worked on didn't have an outline or a purpose; they were just meant to set his thoughts free and see what wonderful art was hidden inside his brain. He told me about an activity where he just free wrote with his eyes closed. He wrote about whatever came to mind: sounds he heard, feelings he felt, etc. After that, he was instructed to circle the phrases or words that stood out to him and build a cohesive piece of work from there. An excellent exercise, if you ask me.
I haven't had a lot of time to focus on writing for fun (other than my blog) lately, but I do write all day, every day at work. I think there's room (and need) for creativity in marketing copy as much as there is in fiction writing. So, when I write a piece at work these days, I don't think about the outcome or purpose when I'm writing my first draft. After I've done an interview with a client or research on a topic, I just let whatever comes to mind spill onto the page. After that, I clean it up and polish and make the message come to life. Sometimes, there's a gem hiding in the writing that might not be right for the piece I'm working on at that moment but is worth filing away for another article. This exercise has helped me escape the boring outline that had started to hold me back after four months of writing similar projects. It's great to see art and creativity in my everyday work. I hope my co-workers and our clients appreciate it as I appreciate the process.