Creativity Sessions: Oblique Strategies

When I do a creativity/writing session with a student, I typically like to bust out my creative-secret-weapon: Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies. 

Brian Eno is a legendary music producer known for his work with David Bowie, Talking Heads, David Byrne, amongst many others. He's pioneered a lot of sounds in the musical world, and his Music For Airports (and other ambient/soundscape work) is one of my favorite albums for writing to. As a pioneering producer, Eno would use these "oblique strategies" with artists he was working with in the studio. When they'd hit a roadbump, or get blocked creatively, he'd try to help pull them out of said block with these very interesting prompts, to get them to think outside the box. Phrases such as, "Don't break the silence," "Is there something missing?," and What to increase? What to reduce?," were just some of the seemingly open-ended questions he would ask the artists. 

Creatively, I am a big fan of indirect routes. I can rarely come right at my creativity head-on; but almost need to trick my brain into a different wavelength or space to be able to really free things up to create. Thus: I love the Oblique Strategies. 

An old student gifted me a set of these coveted cards (Eno eventually made them into a set of cards, housed in an opaque and mysterious black box, that you can purchase on his website), and I swear by them. My love for them is further deepened by the fact that they are sort of like creative Tarot cards: pretty much every single time I have a student pull a card for themselves during a creative session, it is eerily on-theme with something we have just been discussing in terms of how they're feeling, what they're going through, what they know they need to be focusing on, etc. 

The other day, my girl Aimee T.  and I were doing a freewrite/lyric session, and I had her pull two cards, at two different times during our lesson, and after I'd re-shuffled the deck between each selection. These are the two cards she came up with. She told me she just recently had a conversation with a friend about how she needs to just "put in the work" on her creative endeavors. Serendipity! 


I have much I can say about putting in the work creatively versus waiting for divine inspiration to strike us. I will likely write about this in a forthcoming Creativity Sessions post. But for now: just do the work, loves. <3

Happy Creating.