Take Yourself on a Creative Field Trip

Creative Field Trip

Do you remember the adventure and wonder of grade school field trips? I still remember trooping with my kindergarten class to the Mrs. Baird’s Bread bakery and the delight of finding an entire warehouse that smelled like fresh baked bread – because that’s where they baked the bread! Or when we were ushered into the BACK of our local grocery store, to see pallets of milk and crates of fruit, our eyes wide at the hidden world revealed. “So that’s how this place works!”

A field trip exposes you to something you’ve never seen before. It sparks your curiosity – and creativity. That sounds like something we would all love to invite into our lives. So why the heck are field trips reserved for youngsters?

I’ve got a secret for you: they aren’t. You’re an adult! If you want to go on a field trip – YOU CAN! No permission slip required.

Enter the creative field trip.

A creative field trip is any outing or activity done for the pure pursuit of nurturing your creativity. It’s the grown-up version of a grade school field trip but with the same objectives: expose you to something new + spark your curiosity and creativity. There are no deliverables, no action items and you can’t do it wrong. You just have to go. And you don’t need to go far. A creative field trip could look like knitting in your backyard, if that would be something out of the ordinary for you.

But you also can’t saddle a creative field trip with expectations. You can’t expect inspiration for your next Big Idea to hit just because you got out of the house. I mean, it might happen. But you can’t put that kind of pressure on a creative field trip. We spend so much of our lives focused on immediate outcomes. You deserve a break from that! A creative field trip is an invitation to do something just for the heck of it.

Taking yourself on creative field trips is especially beneficial if you work in a creative profession. As a writer, I depend on my creativity daily and I find inspiration everywhere. But if I’m always going to the same places my inspiration starts to feel a little stale. A creative field trip breaks up my routine and replenishes my creative energy.

For the past two years, I’ve been taking myself on creative field trips. Not often, but I aim to go on at least three a year. Sometimes I’ve gone with a friend and other times I’ve gone solo. The destinations have included an academic poetry reading and lecture, a dialogue with Johnny Depp, a tour of a natural history collection and visiting a local art museum.

Here are the simple rules I follow for creative field trips:

    • Don’t spend any time looking at my phone

    • Do bring: a small notebook + pen and a snack

    • Do choose a time when I can be fully present

    • Do be open to whatever the experience is, even if it’s not what I expected

Ready to go on a creative field trip? Here are some ideas to get you started:

    • Visit an art museum.

    • Go to an open mic night, as an audience member or a performer (!)

    • Take a hike or walk in a place that’s unfamiliar whether in a natural or urban setting

    • Practice your craft – writing, weaving, painting, coding – in an unexpected place like a park or plaza.

    • Go to a public place to people watch or just daydream. No phone scrolling allowed!

    • Grab a coin and head out for a walk. When you reach an intersection, flip the coin. Heads you go right, tails you go left. See where you end up. (But remember how to get home.)

    • Check out a historical monument.

    • Take public transportation and explore a new part of town.

Get creative, and have fun out there!

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