Daily Creative Challenges

8 min readApr 4, 2020

I’ve been setting myself and my family creative challenges since the #StayAtHome phase. Although there has been an absolute explosion of creative organisations sharing similar challenges and activity ideas, I don’t always get inspired by them, so I devise my own. Because they are what I find motivating, they may not motivate you, but I want to share them in case they do. They are things that people of any age could do alone or together, as part of home-based learning, creativity and healing.

Take photos of your experience of ‘mass isolation’: This challenge is actually a project by @formatfestival called @massisolation — an invitation to share your photos with the hashtag #massisolation, so that they can build up an archive of this time when so much of our work, learning and entertainment is happening within our homes.

Make two lists of things never tried, one of things that are impossible for now, one list of things possible in these conditions. From each list pick one thing you will do, one in future, and one to start now.

You can make the lists as long or as short as you like. Try to focus on things you’ve never done but would actually like to do, or see value in doing. I added ‘placed a bet’ in my list but then quickly realised I really don’t want to!

Read the Sky. If you’ve been taking more photos of the sky from your window or on walks, use this to reflect on the sky & do some creative writing. Pick one photo of the sky and write down three words or phrases that it says to you. Use those to write a poem (or song etc.), or just post those phrases when you share, using #ReadtheSky This sky suggested the phrases of:

Moon plays tag with Venus; bright darkness; and isolated chain of clouds.

Songs for these times: what song could be a gift to your neighbours? If we could all sing one song to the streets at the same time, what could it be? Agree on a song that is easy to sing, well known, and relevant to these times? (This Creative Challenge led to the idea to start #OneSongTogether, encouraging everyone to sing to the street on Tuesdays to raise voices for Mutual Aid projects.)

Time to Mend: respond to the planet’s emergency by cherishing, mending and re-using what you have rather than buying new things. Mending can be applied not just to things but to our bodies, homes, gardens, lifestyles, relationships and planet. Share your planned or completed mending projects using the hashtag #TimetoMend (which is a Climate Museum UK project)

A family heirloom blanket that I’m mending
  • Mending can be creative — you have to imagine how something can be restored, improved or adapted
  • Mending can be therapeutic — you can trigger memories by re-looking at something, keep your hands busy and quickly see results of your actions
  • Mending is a way to be sustainable — rather than buying new things you can put life back into the old
  • Mending can be a principle to apply not just to things but to how we live — it can stretch to mending your home, your health, your community and natural places.

Keep your distance: devise a way to help people visualise a two metre distance. Lucy Carruthers (a Climate Museum UK team member) is designing a costume. Another friend carried a stick on her walk. Somebody drew markers at our park entrances. Share your ideas and designs with others, because they might be genuinely useful, or at least your interpretive dances or silly walks might be entertaining.

Use your Easter egg boxes to create a ‘Museum of Strange Times’: What object(s) would you put in your egg box display cabinet? You might find something that exists already or make something to represent your experience of this crisis. If you’re in a household with multiple egg boxes you could do one each for your personal responses.

Outside the window: This is a creative writing exercise, but it begins with storytelling and it could end there without you needing to write. What is the most intriguing thing outside your window? Is there somebody’s room where the curtains are always drawn? A lonely cat always prowling? A distant mysterious building? A pile of rubbish that is never cleared? Begin your story with “You see that [room, person, old car, bird…]? Well….” Tell someone else if you can, or tell it to yourself. If that thread leads you somewhere exciting, write it down, or tell it again and record it.

Four part stories: invent and draw a four part story using an unfolded packaging box. You can see the folds and tabs as positive features to use creatively e.g the tabs can be for close-ups or clues or text. You can make art with what you find around the house. Share what you make on #4PartStories

Make a 20 minute wave playlist: a ‘wave’ is part of the #5rhythms dance practice devised by Gabrielle Roth. There are five rhythms: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical & Still. A classic wave runs in that order, although if you go to a class you might find a variety of mixes. Flow music allows you to release and expand your movements, and warm up. Staccato is beaty, angular and builds your energy. Chaos is a mix of expression and energy — the peak of the wave, a chance to go waaaah. Lyrical takes that expressiveness and puts it into meaning and more subtle gestures. Stillness is like shavasana at the end of yoga — to go deep and recover. Pick five tracks that have these qualities, that you would like to dance to. Put them in a playlist and you have a resource for a quick daily dance meditation. Here’s my 20 minute wave.

Rainbow photo walk: Go for a walk to find a rainbow. Take photos of things in the colours of the rainbow, then share them in ROYGBIV sequence (or make a photo collage to share them).

If you’re doing this with other people, you could be a bit competitive. The first person to spot the coloured thing gets to take a photo of it. Or, each person can find their own way of capturing that coloured object.

Start a collaborative drawing: put up a big sheet of paper and draw. Start with small doodles and let others interpret them. Keep going until the page is a complete scene, which could take many days. It could be a cityscape or underwater scape, or another planet, or….. It helps to have a broad theme but you don’t have to identify it until after your first few small drawings give you some kind of direction. If you’re entirely in self-isolation you could share your drawing progress with someone via phone/Skype/photo and ask them what they see, what they’d draw next or to sketch some ideas in their own space and share them with you.

Our work in progress so far…

Make a cat toy in the form of the Covid-19 virus and let kitty rip at it. You could make it by getting an old ping pong ball or a ball of newspaper, and wrapping material around it, then wool, knotting it to make the spiky bits. Maybe try crochet and work out in your own way how to add the spikes. (If you have a stick or bit of wire, turn it into a dangly toy for added play-ability).

Make a collage using one page of a magazine as a base then add to it with other parts you find in the magazine. For this I used a page from an old London Illustrated of seal culling as ‘sacrifice to fashion’. Make it about an issue you care about, or just have fun with the combinations of random parts.

Collage over an old page of London Illustrated, about seals being clubbed and skinned in sacrifice to fashion

Create a wild character: Find a face in something wild, such as a tree, a cloud, or some lichen. It could be in a park or garden, or if you’re home-bound you should be able to find something organic indoors. Look in the fruit bowl, or wood textures. Take a photo of the face.

Back home or indoors, you could use this photo to do a drawing or painting of the face and then to extend it with a body and other aspects to form it into a character.

Make a mask or headdress inspired by a wild being — such as a bird — using packaging. As we’re getting more online deliveries these days you might have more cardboard available. (Note that the virus can live 24 hours on cardboard so leave newly arrived boxes alone for a whole day.) The image here is from an article in Luna Mag with ideas for using packaging creatively, but do come up with your own animal and find your own ways of shaping, colouring and fixing.

Dare to wear your mask/hat when you go out. Use it for better quality conversations with the creatures you might meet outdoors. Or to wear when you have online gatherings.

More challenges will be added. If you try any of these, please share the results either to me on Twitter @bridgetmck or using the hashtags if relevant. What are you doing to keep creative?




Director of Flow & Climate Museum UK. Co-founder Culture Declares. Cultural researcher, artist-curator, educator. http://bridgetmckenzie.uk/