Coloring Creativity into Blogging

What the heck does coloring have to do with creativity in blogging, or enhancing your creativity as a blogger? I’m talking about grown-ups grabbing a box of Crayola Crayons and going to town on a more intricate, adult version of a coloring book. How do you color creativity into blogging? There are a number of blog posts “out there” suggesting that coloring is a panacea for everything from anxiety to toenail fungus. Color me skeptical – at least about the toenail fungus. But just for fun, let’s explore the link between coloring and creativity for bloggers.

Begin by thinking like a child…

Color Outside the Lines

It began by accident. I shared an article called “6 Ways to Get Creative with Writing Your Blog Content,” a blog post suggested by Klout (whoops!) that I had merely skimmed, based largely on the topic, the headline, and and a dearth of caffeine flowing in my veins. I confused lifehack.org with lifehacker.com. I fell for what now looks like a “generic guest post” by an author who has no social media presence beyond the site, who claims to be a “a financial writer, business consultant and freelance coach” who, when she’s not writing, can be found “geeking out over numberse”? Numberse. (Numberses, my Precious.) Mea culpa. Pass the coffee. Of course, @Mitch_M called me out on it:

The old, “I meant to do that!” But the more I thought about what I was suggesting, the more I warmed to the idea. Here’s where the notion of coloring outside the lines comes in: Pay attention. Listen. Any conversation – no matter how silly or trivial – can provide fodder for the blog. The trick is to find an original angle.

We’re All a Little “Colorful”

I don’t know anything about the psychology of adult coloring books. Depending on who you talk to, they may be relaxing, meditative, or even spiritual, and it’s probably a load of bunk – as Cathy Malchiodi, an art therapist, was quoted as saying: “Some people are adamant that coloring books are a path to mindfulness, meditation and some kind of psychological nirvana[.] I find that many of the loudest proponents are actually those that create the coloring books.” Reading that, I checked the post that started it all; sure enough, there’s a link to another article reviewing fifteen of the “best” coloring books for adults, complete with affiliate links. If I add a book link here, it’s just for grins – Amazon Smile, to be exact.

Then again, Carl Jung appears to have liked mandalas, believing they provided a key to unlocking one’s sense of “Self.”

“My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation. ”

Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections
(See more at Carl Jung: Ten Quotations About Mandalas)

Of course, if you really want to unlock the self, you’ll have to draw – and color – your own original mandalas. But there’s nothing wrong with baby steps. Keep a pen handy. You may get flashes of insight from within that will translate to ideas for your next blog post; just jot those down as you draw and color. Don’t stop! Keep tapping into that well till it runs dry, trusting that a day’s experiences and a night of dreaming will fill it up again for tomorrow.

Some writers prefer to spend a few moments, each morning, “free writing” – just quickly writing, longhand, whatever pops into their heads, without an outline, plot, or any particular intent. Try that – but use at least six different colored ink pens. Don’t stop to edit or self-censor; don’t rip out the page, crumple it up, and try your aim at the circular file. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation don’t count! Just write for thirty minutes, switching pen colors every five minutes. Is your writing different when you use a black pen, a red pen, a purple pen, or a green pen?

Use Bold Colors!

@Mitch_M did that Mitch thing, sealing the deal:

I wasn’t sure, till later, which one of us had thrown down the gauntlet. But Mitch told me I did, and the Tweets don’t lie.

I believe that your color choices are key to your thought processes. I was using the boldest of blues, the most stubborn of oranges, the most mischievous of reds, and the silliest (but wisest) of sage green when I challenged Mitch to a blogging duel. He responded in the sunniest of yellows, the cockiest of cornflower blues (saying he’d practically had the last word on blogging creativity already – hah!) and a hint of thyme – his post will go live on Monday.

Is your crayon box one of those standard boxes of eight basic colors – or worse, that little assortment of three or four that they hand out to keep kids quiet in restaurants? Is it a modest but portable pack of twenty-four? Perhaps, like me, you prefer the classic but robust box of sixty-four colors with its built-in sharpener and a tendency to end up with a jumble of colorful wax nubs dumped into a coffee can. Or is it a ginormous box of 152 different colors of crayon, complete with glitterbombs? There is strength in diversity; don’t let your own voice be silenced by a dearth of color, or by choosing only the most quiet, unassuming, tepid shades. Live out loud; blog out loud. Grab your crayons and color out loud as a “warm-up” pre-writing exercise. Be conscious of the harmony between bolder and softer hues – don’t be afraid to explore them all and see how they clash or combine. People are a little bit like that, and will respond and resonate with your words as a blogger, if you consider how your “coloring and shading” choices – those little nuances of meaning – affect your readers.

Writers call their box of “crayons” a Thesaurus. You can also fill your blogging color-box by subscribing to their Word of the Day. Be sure to check out the history behind your favorite words to deepen your understanding of them; this is especially important for bloggers who are blogging in English, when it is not their native tongue.

Tap into Childhood

Build a blanket fort to color in.

Remember the best of childhood and see the world through childlike eyes. “Childlike” is not the same as “childish” (any more than “For Mature Audiences” means something that will appeal to mature people). Color on the floor. Scratch that: Don’t color ON the floor – even if the crayons are “washable” –  just sprawl out on the carpet with coloring book and crayons and color. Lay on your tummy and kick your feet. Stretch. Sketch under the blankets with a flashlight. Sit under a tree and daydream; climb to the top of it and see the forest from a tree. Change your own perspective, both literally and figuratively. Sometimes, the best way to sneak around “writer’s block” is to explore a different venue and a different kind of creativity – whether it’s through art, photography, crafting, crochet, or coloring. When your brain is ready to begin writing, it will let you know. Till then, let it play – and fill it with color.


Now that he’s (finally) got around to posting it, here’s Mitch Mitchell’s take on coloring as it pertains to creativity and blogging: Coloring As A Concept For Inspired Blogging? Go read, then let us know your thoughts on the subject! She says, pointing down at the comments box, below…

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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4 thoughts on “Coloring Creativity into Blogging”

  1. Well, this was worthy! lol The only thing I’m depressed about is that you didn’t make each paragraph a different color font. 🙂

    I love mandalas also, but I never could create one. Then again, I love pictures and stuff like them. I’ve never been able to draw all that well, but when I did and it needed coloring it was always the same colors… even though I had the 64 color box.

    The thing is, for me coloring was a solitary thing. In other words, it took all my concentration and I never thought about anything else while doing it. I also only drew two different types of pictures (not counting the birds I tried to copy out of the encyclopedia when I was 10 years old living with my grandmother) so I certainly can’t say it helped my creativity at all.

    Course, that woman I’m married to, who’s quite the creative person, tried to banter with me about the merits of coloring, saying it helps her in deciding how she’s going to redesign things around the house. I asked her if she wanted to take the challenge to see if it helped her creatively write something… she said no. We each think we won that debate; I think I’ll leave it at that. lol
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…Coloring As A Concept For Inspired Blogging?My Profile

    1. To be honest, the thing I was most disappointed in myself for was not taking a photo of some original coloring! I have to confess, though, that I have a blank sketchbook I like to color in, not one of those “adult coloring books” – and if I grabbed a coloring book off the store shelf, it’d be a kids’ coloring book, because the adult versions are a little too “paint by numbers” to suit me – such tiny little spaces, it’s more like a “can you color inside the lines” challenge than a relaxing exercise in fun and creativity. I’d rather color rabbits purple and princess dresses polka dot.

      I remember, though, that “coloring inside the lines,” for me, came slowly and took practice. Only when a babysitter taught me some basic shading techniques did I even begin to CARE, but her pages always looked so GOOD, I felt inspired and she helped me. I don’t like to be constrained, though – don’t think I’m advocating JUST coloring in a coloring book, but it’s a start. Baby steps to recapturing the childlike imagination and shutting up (and out) the inner critic. When you hear that inner voice saying, “Coloring books are for kids,” you tell it to STFU, and you begin to capture your flag back.

  2. Why didn’t I think to blog about this?? I actually happen to have an adult coloring book and colored pencils. I love it. To me, it actually is kind of therapeutic. I spent the last couple of weeks moving so it’s been a while but I need to break them out and start coloring again. I haven’t mentioned the coloring book to my therapist, maybe I’ll bring it up in our next session and see what she thinks. I used to draw all the time when I was a kid, I had a sketch pad and everything. But reading and writing are still my first loves.

    1. You can follow the links (I think) to some of the therapists’ opinions (most of which consider the notion of it being “therapeutic” bunk). BUT – if it relaxes you, helps you to refocus and distracts you from stress, makes you feel happy like a little kid – then what do they know? 🙂 I do think Jung’s mandalas require drawing your OWN, not coloring in someone else’s. I’d give it a try!

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