5 ways to release creative tension

Now that there’s more free time with the holidays beginning, are you feeling the urge to do something creative? Here are some ideas to help you get started.


Kristina Rosebrook

Natalie Dunlap’s bullet journal and the pens she uses for it.

Finals are officially over, and now you might be feeling like you have too much time on your hands. Binge-watching Netflix is fun, but after awhile it starts to feel a little tiring. Maybe you’re want to do something creative, but you’re not sure where to begin or what to do. Here are some tips and new places for you to get started on some classic creative activities.  


Creative writing 

Creative writing allows you to put your daydreams, feelings or random ideas down on paper, and there are many ways to do just that.

Short Stories or Novels

You can write short stories or even short novels and come up with characters, themes and detailed scenes. To get started, you can answer a prompt , start brainstorming and planning plot ideas, or just start writing and see where it takes you.

Here’s my personal tips on developing characters, describing scenes and thinking of insightful themes:

Characters – Whether you’re writing a book or a short story, make sure to thoroughly go through and write out all of the character’s physical features, their personality type, personal quirks and flaws before starting to write your story. You will want to write a backstory, even if it’s short, for every character as well. And remember: people aren’t perfect. Everyone has unique features and personalities, and readers want to relate to that.

Scenes –  Just remember that you want the reader to have the ability to feel, see, smell and hear everything the antagonist does. So when describing a street market for instance, don’t forget to include the weather (is there a sea breeze or is it hot and humid?), loud sounds, smell of cooking foods or fresh fruit, etc. Including these details can immediately bring an image to a reader’s mind.

Themes – This is probably the hardest part about writing–deciding what you want the readers to take away from your story. As a freshman or sophomore, you might especially struggle with this because you’re still learning so much about the world and developing your own beliefs. However, as you start to reflect on the different truths of humanity or injustices occurring now or in the past, you can pick and choose what you would like to discuss. Also, an important note I remember learning from my English teacher in eighth grade is to not spoon feed your readers. In other words, don’t make your writing so easy to interpret that someone can read over it once and understand everything you’re trying to get across.

More prompts: https://self-publishingschool.com/fiction-creative-writing-prompts/


“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (Elizabeth Browning) Although love poems can come in handy when trying to make someone swoon, you might prefer to write about different motifs or simple things like the changing seasons. Many of us have either suffered through or loved the poetry unit during English classes, but who knows–when you’re not being forced to do something, you might actually start enjoying it. There are a vast array of poetry styles and techniques, as you may well know, but here is a short list to look at. However, if you prefer, you can also choose to just write freely without a particular format.

Sonnet – William Shakespeare’s favorite style, written in iambic pentameter. Classic sonnets are typically written in ABBA ABBA CDE CDE or ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme schemes.

Haiku – Haikus are very short, with 3 lines made up of 17 syllables. There’s 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 again in the last. If you want to learn more about common topics or styles for Haikus, check out the link I have below.

Villanelle – This is similar to the sonnet, but more repetitive. It takes an ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA format, with line 1 getting repeated in lines 6, 12 and 18. Line 3 is also repeated in lines 9, 15 and 19.

Feel free to check out more formats here as well as examples of the poetic techniques.

Music Lyrics

If you’re musically inclined, this could be a great way to combine two different passions. Whether you want to write deep, meaningful lyrics or take more of a Taylor Swift approach, you can explore your inner feelings through music lyrics. And, you can tie your poetry knowledge of rhyme schemes into it!

However, I admit, I know next to nothing about music nor lyrics, so check out these tips from someone who does: 5 mistakes on writing lyrics.


Bullet journaling

If you have the ability to draw, are skilled in calligraphy or you’re willing to start learning now, you might enjoy bullet journaling. If you have an urge to make something aesthetic, bullet journaling can be a wonderful way to do just that. It might just take a bit of practice, but in the end it will definitely be worth it. It takes dedication though, so be prepared to carve out some time in your schedule for this activity.

What you might need to get started:

-A journal with grid or dot-format paper

-Pens, markers, colored pencils, calligraphy pen (optional) (Dual Tipped Tombow Pens  are a very good option if you’re willing to spend a bit of coin)

-Washi tape

-Sticky notes

-Page ideas



Instagram accounts: bullet.journals, bulletjournal.ideas, journal_junkies, theboostedjournal

If you’re trying to organize to-do’s, this is a cute and organized method.
Inspiration on how to organize your schedule for the week.
A cute way to mix drawings, pictures and lists.

Painting, drawing & coloring

Whether you’re planning to major in art in college, just a fan of Bob Ross or only know how to draw stick figures, there are still many ways to enjoy painting or drawing. I am one of those people who are naturally gifted at drawing stick figures, so for me, painting and all that is quite obviously too easy. However, I have found something at my level of skill–coloring apps. Yes, perhaps too advanced for most, but you can eventually work your way up. There are so many ways to paint or draw so instead of listing those, I will give a mix of new things you could try for those with a range of skill sets:

Bob Ross – I know I used him as a joke, but actually try following some of his painting videos. If you’re a beginner, you could be surprised at how well it actually turns out, and if you have some experience you could add your own flavor to the painting. You might not have access to all the paints he always lists off at the beginning, but it might still turn out just fine. You could even have a competition with a friend to see whose ends up better.

Buy a coloring book or use an app – Relaxing and easy, anyone can enjoy this activity.

Draw villains as heroes, or vice versa – Ever imagined Ursula as a Disney princess? Me neither, but I would definitely like to see that.

Use crayons to make a masterpiece – Instead of using fancy pencils, try reverting to your childhood and get out a pack of crayons. Now that you’ve acquired some knowledge of lines and where they’re really supposed to go, see if you can make a piece of art with crayons!

No eraser challenge – Pretty self-explanatory, draw something or someone without any erasers!



Do it yourself crafts have been gaining popularity, and for good reason. If done properly, DIY’s can have great results and are a fantastic way to release some of that creative tension you may be feeling. Here are some general DIY ideas:

Holiday-themed DIY’s – From ornaments to wreaths, there are many ways to get into the holiday spirit, but why not make some of your decorations instead of spending money? Here are some great ideas from Brit and Co.

Clothing – I’m not one to bring scissors anywhere near my clothes, but if you’re brave enough, give it a go! Here are some inspirational ideas: easy no sew diy clothing hacks.

Organizational DIY’s – We could all use some organization in our lives, and these DIY’s are here to give it to you: 17 Stylish DIYs That Will Help You Finally Feel Organized.

And don’t forget, Pinterest always has an oversupply of DIY pins if you’re still looking for more inspiration.



If you enjoy folding paper, this is the one for you. But really, Origami can be a fun, calming activity that can result in a very cute animal, flower, box etc. You can give it to friends or, if you make a little paper box, you could  store things in it! One time, my friend made boats out of our paper placemats at a restaurant, and we left our tips in there. If you want to do something even as simple as that or you’re just looking for a way to get creative with your hands, Origami is a great option. Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to do a variety of different origami.