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Back to School

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

Did all of your packages arrive safely last week? More importantly, what is in store for you this week? Amidst the anticipation of Amazon packages, we treated ourselves a few minutes of creative contemplation. We breathed new life into cardboard treasures, weaving stories and artistic expressions from the very boxes that protect the things we buy.

A new week brings new opportunities. For many of us, it's back-to-school season; with it comes new objects we can use to nudge us in a creative direction. Your creative nudge this week? Rip open that pristine box of school supplies and, just like you did as a kid: Take out a #2 pencil. Don’t worry, this is a test you’ve already passed!

This week, focus on your sense of smell—a potent source of nostalgia. The scent of a freshly sharpened #2 pencil carries echoes of countless lectures, late-night study sessions, and dreams taking shape on paper. Find a moment of reprieve anywhere you like, perhaps after you drop off your young learner at school, their unopened box of supplies left behind in the car!

Bring the pencil close to your nose. Try holding it with your lips, mustache-style. Or clench it with your teeth for a multi-sensory experience. Senses are like learning styles, so choose the one that works for you best, and explore the following prompts:

  1. Back to School Night:  Let scent transport you to a time of innocence and discovery. The scent of the pencil becomes a conduit for your memories to materialize. Write about your favorite school memories or teachers who left a lasting impact, or that day you bested a bully.
  2. Scented Stories: Do you think smells travel in straight lines, or more like the eclectic route of a butterfly? Let the nostalgic aroma inspire a stream of consciousness writing session. Put pencil to paper, and let your thoughts flow freely.
  3. Band Solo: Grab a few pencils and drum them on the nearest surface. Create your own rhythm or match the rhythm in the world around you.
  4. Take it on the Other Side: Why is there an eraser? Because mistakes happen silly. Write down a negative thought, then erase it. Keep going until you run out of negatives.
  5. Cafeteria Collage: If you are dumping old supplies, arrange them in a creative presentation before they graduate to the bins. Take pencil shavings and shake them on a sticky surface.

As many of us adapt to a new wrinkle in our routine, we can imagine ourselves at the threshold of yet another creative adventure. The unmistakable scent of a #2 pencil carries the essence of shared experiences and countless stories. Embrace the nostalgia that arises from the familiar, and let it infuse your creative explorations this week.

Note: portions of this prompt created using the tool ChatGPT.