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It’s easy to fall into a rut, even for creative types. Routines are certainly of value as they can keep you working out five times per week, cooking dinner, setting a practical work schedule, and getting a haircut once every eight weeks. You know the drill. But how much do routines allow for spontaneity and creativity as a performer? Cultivating a spirit of play is essential, indeed it makes performers feel alive and fulfills a sense of purpose.

So for the times when it seems like your creativity is lost miles away in the fog, here are three TED talks to help you clear away some of that haze.

Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity

Improv Everywhere, created by Charlie Todd in the summer of 2001, is a New York-based comedy group that looks for opportunities to bust through people’s expectations and give them surprising and absurd experiences while in public spaces. Todd calls them “positive pranks” to be enjoyed by random strangers as they’re, say, sitting on the subway, crossing a busy street, studying at the library, or shopping at Best Buy. Indeed, Todd has hosted an annual no-pants subway ride, a ballroom crosswalk, sought parade leaders, and exhibited the worst ice skater ever—among many other laughter-inducing moments. His projects have involved as many as tens of thousands of undercover performers, and Improv Everywhere tours across the globe to give keynote talks and stage live, participatory events. Their most common touring project is called their Mp3 Experiment in which crowds of 50 to 5,000 people receive instructions via headphones while out in a public space. 

What I learned from 100 days of rejection | Jia Jiang

Jia Jiang is not an actor, but he is an entrepreneur who struggled with a debilitating fear of rejection. Convinced this anxiety was stopping him from achieving his dreams, he bravely—and creatively—ventured into the world to be rejected on purpose in order to learn from his experiences and hopefully overcome his fears. Jiang called his experiment 100 Days of Rejection Therapy. For three months, he looked for opportunities to hear “No” from a wide assortment of people throughout the course of his day, asking a stranger if he could borrow $100 or asking to play soccer in someone’s backyard. Of all things, Jiang gained public recognition after he dared himself to go into Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and ask the employee behind the counter to create doughnuts in the shape of the Olympic symbol. Jiang recalls, “Rejection was my curse, was my boogeyman. It has bothered me my whole life because I was running away from it. Then I started embracing it. I turned that into the biggest gift in my life.”

Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days

When the idea of learning something new seems like a monumental task that you just don’t have time for, Matt Cutts has a suggestion: Try something you’ve always wanted to do for 30 days. The challenges could include activities such as drawing a daily picture or walking 10,000 steps per day; or they could center on omitting something that’s holding you back, such as spending time on social media websites or taking a break from watching the news. Dedicating yourself to the task for a month helps take the pressure off, as it’s a doable, finite goal. And if you’re like Cutts, you might find the months becoming more memorable and fulfilling. “What are you waiting for?” Cutts asks. “I guarantee you the next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not. So why not think of something you have always wanted to try, and give it a shot—for the next 30 days?”