How to Salvage Your Sagging Creative Work with Spontaneous Absurdity

“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.”

 —Henry Miller

file4391309901763.jpgSometimes a project droops like one of Dali’s clocks. Can you salvage the painting, the scene, or the children’s activity?

When your creative work slumps, do something spontaneously absurd to it.

No. Don’t throw or destroy your work. Ask, “With my creativity still intact, but my internal editor turned off, what would I like to do right now to this work?” Then do it.

You may be surprised that your work improves three-fold.

See what I mean in these fictitious examples of Spontaneous Absurdity.

Example 1

id-1004940.jpgThe work: Wade paints a jade-green rubber tree houseplant. He’s eager to add the pièce de résistance: the new yellow shoot.

Sinking Realization: Wade paints the yellow budding leaf and steps back. Humpf. It’s still a rubber tree houseplant. Even he can resist this pièce.

Spontaneous Absurdity: How about a plant from another planet? While the paint is wet, Wade recreates the shoot into a corkscrew that ends in a burst of fuchsia.

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Example 2

Ending of Jeanne’s Novel:

Arthur took Megan into his arms, lowered his head, and kissed her. Her heart pounded. She’d spend her life with this handsome man.

Jeanne’s Critique Partner’s Note: Something’s missing. Actually, a lot.

Spontaneous Absurdity: Okay. How about this for something!

id-10075211.jpgArthur led Meghan through the downpour into the summerhouse. He drew her to him and cupped her head, a drop of water threatening to fall from the curl hanging over his forehead.

Goosebumps prickled Meghan’s arms. Would he finally kiss her?

As he lowered his lips toward hers, she placed her fingertips to his pursed lips. “I’ve called you Arthur from the beginning. The name is so formal, don’t you think? Now that you seem about to press your lips to mine, may I call you Art?”

He grinned and rubbed his nose against hers. “Only if I may call you Meg.” The drop fell from his curl and ran down her cheek like a tear. “Don’t cry, Meghan. I won’t call you Meg.”

She fluttered her lashes. “You see, Meg is the name of our neighbor’s pet skunk. But you may shorten my name to Han.”

He brushed her lips with his, sending tingles up her neck.

“Okay. Then you may shorten Arthur to Hur. I like that better than Art.”

She giggled. “How delightful. Hur and Han. What an interesting beginning to our relationship, Hur.”

“No, lovely Han. This is an interesting beginning to our relationship.” He sank his lips onto hers.

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Example 3

file000608292008.jpgAngela’s Preschool Activity: “Cut lips like this example and paste them to your Valentine for a kiss.”

Preschoolers: “Mommy says I’m left-handed. I can’t use these scissors.” “I need help. I can’t cut around the bumps.” “I have only one lip. Sniff. By accident.”

Spontaneous Absurdity: Angela extracts her Red Rumba lipstick from her purse and a tissue. She zips from child to child, smoothing on lipstick to their puckered lips, and then wipes the lipstick clean for the next child. “Kiss your valentine as many times as you wish.”

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What bit of spontaneous absurdity improved your creative work?