At our last meeting of the Ink & Quill Group in Winter Park Florida, we did a little exercise which was simple, and just took our small group half an hour, but it was enlightening what we all learned about ourselves and each other.
I brought in a bag filled with three items: a pine cone; a pair of red cat’s eye sunglasses with rose-colored tinted lens; and a small silver thimble. I instructed the group to handle each item. I then instructed them to write down their observations – noting color, texture, and anything else appropriate. Also, to write anything that they associated with the object.
As might be expected, the physical descriptions were similar, but the associated memories about the objects were rich with personal experiences. Take, for example, several people associated sewing with the thimble – especially quilting. Then followed a discussion on memories of quilting frames. Others spoke of learning to sew – memories connected with the Girl Scouts, and for the few men in our group – of being made to learn to sew by their mothers. Others mentioned thimble collections along with spoon collections from each country or state they had visited. In my family; my mother would often talk about ‘a thimbleful’ of an ingredient when measuring for recipes.
The pine cone brought up memories of the smell of pine trees and decorating for Christmastime. One person described collecting the cones then taking them home and creatively decorating them with paint or sparkles. Another person spoke of adding essential oils to a basketful of cones to create strong fragrances in the house. One person mentioned using them when making a fire in the fireplace.
Several people equated the sunglasses with going to the beach. Others said they reminded them of poodle skirts of the 1950’s. One woman said they reminded her of her mother who wore that type of sunglasses all the time. I said they reminded me of Rita Skeeter, the journalist from the Daily Prophet made famous in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
The point of the exercise was to realize that using an ordinary object to dredge up associated memories or experiences could spark our creative mind to tell a story. It could be a personal experience, or instead, a story that could include some aspect of what you had associated with the object. We all agreed the exercise had made us all think about stories that would be fun to write.
How about you? Have you used objects to spark your creative muscles? I would love to hear your thoughts about this. Comments are welcome!
2 thoughts on “A Simple Writing Exercise to Spark Creativity”
Marie, your exercise reminds me of one we do for inspired speaking (or also writing). From a collection of objects, you’d pick one (sometimes blindly) and then follow inspiration as you let the object take you on a journey. Commonly, you start (as you describe) with how it looks and feels, yet in time associations, memories and so on weave in to tell an inspirational tale or offer guidance to those listening (if not also the speaker themselves). A wonderful exercise not only develop inspirational skills but also in showing us how much knowledge we hold if we but step our mind out of the way and let our heart and intuition speak.
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OH, that’s a lovely expansion of this exercise. Thanks for sharing Hilde. Gives me a great idea for another exercise for the group.
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