Tending to My Creative Flame

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Candy Chang's Sprinter Story

Noah Scalin came to present at my workplace, and we all participated in a quick "make a face using the materials around you" activity. It was the liveliest I've seen our meetings be in a while and got me inspired to try Creative Sprint out.

I really enjoyed Day 14, "Create a new superhero." I was visiting my family during that time, and I got them all involved in my adventure to figure out how to make something that would rock back and forth but not fall down. I vaguely knew that an egg would have a good shape for something like that, but raw eggs can't do what I wanted my work to do. I ended up poking holes in the egg to blow out the egg whites, leaving the egg yolk behind, and then cooking that. Family members passing by while I was working would contribute suggestions on how to keep the rest of the egg inside, how to keep it upright while it was cooking, and so on. 

I was super excited that my theory about keeping just the egg yolk inside would end up a success! My hero Mr. Eggroll was rolled around a lot that night...and then I cracked him open for the sake of science since I was curious how a half-hollow egg looked on the inside.

Day 26, "Create a diagram of  your own recipe for happiness" was surprisingly difficult. It was a combination of having too much I could say and wanting to do something more extravagant than usual that really tripped me up. I thought about it during work, and then after work spent another few hours wondering what I would do. Finally, I decided to get back to the basics and spirit of the first day, instead of trying to overthink things or make some definitive statement about my life philosophy. Using just the things around me, I gave myself the bounds of something to do with food, since the prompt asked for the recipe for happiness...and the first thing I quickly sketched out became what I posted.

I think I was just rather surprised by the response to what I posted. I've had my Instagram account for a few years and never posted and never checked it. This sprint was in part a challenge I gave myself, to put myself out there in the world and not worry about whether or not what I was sharing was worth people's time or screen space.

For Day 19, "Make something that lights up," I made conductive playdough and decorated it with LEDs. I got the idea from a talk I went to by Carol Yang, Executive Director of the Children's Creativity Museum in SF, where she brought in conductive play dough and other hands-on ways to engage with circuits. When she first shared these activities with us, I appreciated the thinking behind it and vaguely thought that it would be cool to make on my own...but as with many things I didn't end up trying to make things myself. But after getting the prompt for Day 19, I knew exactly what I could do. Coming home after work, scrounging up the ingredients to make conductive play dough and then spending a great amount of time trying to make the design I thought about in my head work was a really interesting break from my routine.

So going forward, I would like to continue this kind of serendipitous "let's just try that thing I learned about the other day," even if it involves going to a bit more trouble than coming home and making dinner. I found that it's really fun to bring in something unexpected, like this play dough, and seeing how it activates other people's imaginations and breaks them out of their "typical" day as well. 

My advice is that you'll do something every day if you enjoy the process -- so don't do anything that stresses you out (too much! A little stress keeps you from being complacent). If you can't come up with something, talk to the people around you about it. Even ask a random stranger and see if you get any helpful ideas. I tried not to look at any other sprinter's work until I was done for the day, so that I could feel like each day's work was mostly influenced by my take on the prompt. 

In some ways, doing this was proof to myself that I have no excuses for not finishing the random side projects that live in a growing list on my computer. I was able to settle down and do something every day for the past 30 days...if I had spent that time working on a project instead, how far would I have gotten by now? So for one thing, I'm going to continue doing something sprint-like, though I know doing it myself and not along with a community will be far more difficult; the difference is that I'm going to try and replicate the conditions of success as much as possible: do it along with at least one other person, and share what I'm doing regularly even if I don't think it's the best thing since sliced bread. 

All throughout October, I kind of felt like there was a small little flame burning inside of me that made every day just a bit different than usual. Tending to that flame through trying new things out, getting over my insecurities and sharing things, and talking about my weird thoughts and approaches to prompts was extremely enjoyable. It would be really simple to let it die out, or think that I'll just re-light it when I have time, or when it's next year October...but I think the point of going through these 30 days was not to complete them, but to find a way to continue the process in my own way. 

For more of work, check out her Instagram.

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