Review: “Creative Sprint” by Noah and Mica Scalin (Update)


Ready for your next guided creative challenge?

Creative Sprint by Noah and Mica Scalin throws down a not-too-scary creative gauntlet: make something every day for a month, and then show it to other people.

Instead of one long program like the 100-Day Project and others, the Scalins present six shorter challenges called creative sprints. Each sprint lasts thirty days and is organized under a loose theme, such as “Work With The Unexpected” and “Expand Your Default Settings.”

Each day you’re asked to create one thing; you’re given a prompt, but the style, medium, and form are entirely up to you. The book also asks you (wisely, I think) to share your work with someone and to think about it after it’s done.


Since I’ve been neglecting my writing lately, I’ve decided to use this 30-day sprint to generate some new poetry. Some new shadormas, in fact.

What’s a shadorma?

It’s a short poem with six lines and a syllable-count scheme of 3-5-3-3-7-5. It usually doesn’t rhyme, and it can stand alone as a sestet or linked as a series into a longer poem.

It’s amazing fun to write. Sometimes the results are forearm-tingly beautiful.

Here are a couple of nice linked shadormas by Robert Lee Brewer on Writer’s Digest; I’ll share the first sestet here:

She throws birds
at the school children
on playgrounds
made of steel
who run intense spirals to
the chain-link fencing….

See the pattern?

“She throws birds” is three syllables

“at the school children” is five syllables

…and so on, for a pattern of 3-5-3-3-7-5.

Every day, I’ll be writing a new shadorma based on the prompts in “Sprint #3: Limitations Are Your Friend.” I’ll post them to Twitter and Instagram with the #creativesprint and #twoponies hashtag, and then return with thoughts on the Creative Sprint experience when I’m finished.


(July Update)

And done! I actually managed to write a new shadorma for every day of June- that’s thirty new poems, more than I’d managed in the previous six months.

I wrote them out on Post-Its and posted them to Instagram under the hashtags #creativesprint and (usually) #shadorma.

The blue one on the left was based on a prompt from Day 7: “Whatever you make today, make it in slow motion.” The others were from Day 18 and Day 6, moving clockwise.

I found the prompts to be specific enough to be useful but broad enough for creative interpretation. Most of them would work for any medium at all. The thirty-day commitment isn’t excessive, and Creative Sprint‘s relaxed guidance left me with exactly the sense of lighthearted play I needed.

The commitment to share the work on social media was also welcome. I felt a sense of light community engagement, just the thing for experimental poem drafts. I was the only poet tagging #creativesprint in June, but that was okay; the other sprinters did other things, and the diversity was fun.

The best thing about doing this sprint was, for me, its brevity and lightness. I was able to pursue my full-time studio projects while experimenting with a new form. The results make me happy too. Some of them will no doubt turn up on other, more substantial projects.

Fun book! I’d particularly recommend it to creatives who need some play time to jump-start a larger series or project.





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