In the new Creativity Exercises That Work series, which will run right through to the end of the year, creativity coaches share creativity exercises that they have used with clients to help clients effectively handle their creative process issues, creative personality issues, and creative career issues. This week’s exercise is provided by Ariel Grace. Enjoy!
Creativity Exercise: Character Activation
Provided by: Ariel Grace
To contact Ariel Grace: Connect with Ariel online https://linktr.ee/arielgracefull on Instagram or Facebook @ArielGraceFull
Character Activation is a guided experiential practice that helps creatives playfully move into an aspect of their psyche that they have either disowned or that they actively want to cultivate more of in their personal life, public brand and creative expression. Clients are led step-by-step through a process to define their character – real or imaginary – and bring it into their life in healthy ways. Then, they are guided to reflect and integrate the learnings into their social expression as they desire.
Ever feel like you need a fresh perspective but you can’t quite break out of the “norm?” It may feel really good to cultivate other aspects of yourself, particularly if you are feeling creatively blocked.
When you need a dose of a new “way” you may want to try this method I call, “Character Activation.” It can have the potential to help you move into a new attitude, gain new perspectives, and even integrate disowned or lost parts of yourself. Similar to how actors/actresses deeply immerse themselves into a particular character, this experiential exercise will allow you to play into the nuances of “being” in a different way.
For this exercise to truly “work,” you’ll want to adopt the mindset of a child and play your way into fully immersing yourself in the play state.
1. Character Ideation: Take a piece of paper and jot down three characters from “real” life or imaginary ones that you admire. (Yes, this can be your own characters if you create other worldly creatures or people in your work or play already.) Underneath each of these characters, list the characteristics that you like, dislike, feel envious of or somehow feel “activated” by, noting what aspect particularly stands out for you by underlining it.
2. Character Charge: Select the character that feels the most “charged” for you after reviewing the above characters. For some people, this will be obvious, for others, you can simply choose something that feels “fun” to play into.
3. Become the Character: Dedicate at least 15 minutes a day for 5 days to “being” this character. Depending on your preferred way, you may want to use different clothing, real world props or you may be more visual and be able to daydream a lot of how it might feel. It is important to bring this character out of the imaginal and into your sensory world through movement, voice, clothing, food and other “real life” ways. How do they dress? What do they say? How do they say it? Who do they associate with? What do they think about? How do they overcome challenges? It may be useful to write about their life.
4. Character Learnings: Pay particular attention to the aspect of this character that you felt a charge or “activation” around. How did it feel to spend time with that aspect? What were the thoughts and perceptions that the character had? Write down the feeling states that came up for you as you stepped into the character. Often, you’ll be using this character as a metaphor for your own life and areas that you want to develop. Note if there are emotionally charged areas that apply to your present life or your past that come up for you as you did this exercise. For example, if this character is very carefree and you feel very stifled presently in your life, you may practice skipping and laughing to become your character.
Problems that may arise: You may find yourself judging the character, the exercise itself or your attempt to immerse yourself completely in the play aspect, particularly if you are working with aspects of yourself that feel heavy or serious. A potential solution to this is to exercise your body or get yourself into a relaxed state prior to stepping into the exercise. A critical perspective will block the potential of the learnings. Also, often people disown parts of their expression and this can “come” out in unhealthy ways if there is any shame/guilt around it. This exercise may be a way to express that is conscious and focuses on learning. If you are dealing with big feelings of shame, guilt, anger or resentment, it may benefit you to receive professional support.
Variations: Incorporating music, food, environment and contextual cues that would fit this character can really help you to deepen your experiential learning. Also, you may want to do this with other people, who would play characters as well!
Additions: In addition to this exercise, you may want to try applying this concept to claiming (or reclaiming) identities or titles that you have struggled to adopt in your professional life. Perhaps you are already an artist, but you are struggling to feel confident in becoming an “author.” You can use this exercise to embody an “author” and create the space inside of yourself to test it out and bring it into the world. What does the “author” wear? How do they speak about their work? What is their schedule day to day?
Clients: When a client of mine tried this, she was struggling with her self-confidence around singing in public. She found that by using a fictional character that had extra-human abilities to perform, she was able to change her attire slightly and create a particular style that supported her ability to easily step into the “singer” persona and feel confident in her voice when she stepped up on stage.
Ariel Grace is a a coach for creatives, tech design consultant, intuitive, artist and author. She enjoys co-creating new, collaborative ways to solve social challenges across different sectors. Connect with her online https://linktr.ee/arielgracefull on Instagram or Facebook @ArielGraceFull