Contrary to Greek mythology, creative genius doesn’t just appear by divine inspiration. You have to befriend your muses by regularly flexing creative muscles in order to deliver original ideas on a regular basis. Experts ranging from Steve Jobs to Albert Einstein have touted the benefits of leaving the task at hand to let your mind wander.
The following classic writing exercises—with new technological twists—can help you do just that so that your mind is stretched and limber when it is time to create a pitch video for a new product, deliver a killer tagline, or pen a clickable headline.
Write a Story in Six Words or Less
Long before Twitter set character limits and flash fiction blew up on Tumblr, king of restraint Earnest Hemingway knew just a few words could say enough. According to literary urban legend, he made (and won) a $10 bet that he could write a helluva story in six words. His creation—”For sale: Baby shoes, never worn”—has endured forty-plus years as a great example of “less is more” when it comes to writing. The six-word story prompt is a favorite among writing teachers for the way it forces you to choose words with the most visceral impact. Just as necessity is the mother of invention, strict constraints can help copywriters resist cliche.
Turn your six-word story into a 1,006-word story with Adobe Post by pairing the words with an image.
Need inspiration? Try the subreddit Six Word Stories or explore Tumblr to see other people’s six-word memoirs. Apply this to work by describing your brand in one sentence in six words or under. Here’s ours:
Or simply make this a word game by distilling your favorite movie into six words. Can you guess which movies these are?
Tell a Story that Follows Classic Story Structure
Even the most twisty, complicated stories can likely be distilled down to a very simple three-act structure. Those just starting out in screenwriting are often first challenged to write their story in just a few plain sentences. Practice establishing your own story structure by creating a six-frame Adobe Voice video that follows the structure: “Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.” This formula forces writers to think of cause and effect, a driving force of plot, and condense complicated stories into bite-sized pieces. Use this prompt to help you storyboard ideas. Consider telling the story of how you got into your line of work or tell the story of someone affected by a cause you care about, using imagery that captures the tone of your story. These six sentences could become the foundation for your very own three-act drama, but they will definitely help you define the main points of your message.
Create a Poem from a Newspaper Article
Borrowing and remixing is all part of the creative process and can lead to totally new, moving works. To make your own remixed poetry, grab a news story and highlight only the important words. Arrange the words in whatever order speaks to you, find images to go with each word and upload it all to glideshow in a Slate. Voila—your own animated poem! This storytelling prompt can help with the creative process by taking the pressure off you to come up with the words. Again, constraints are a good thing as they act as walls for ideas to bounce off of—you never know what brilliant idea will come to you when you let your mind wander to something mindlessly creative.
Narrate Your Favorite Short Story or Children’s Book
Instead of worrying about writing your own video script, take a work you already know and add your own spin to it by finding images and icons that make the text come to life. Play with narrating it line by line or perhaps changing the order to best adapt it for the screen.
This is a common exercise in schools to help kids with reading comprehension, such as in the case below:
But both kids and adults can benefit from this project. Take Catherine Winters’s Adobe Voice video, who turned a few pages of a fantasy book into a simple animated video.
Not only will you come away with newfound appreciation for the story, but you’ll learn valuable things about pacing, voice control, and visual elements that will help you when you create your own videos.