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Journaling for Creativity.

Journaling Brain Games for Creative Development

This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity in a writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.

Introduction Contents Techniques About Method Journaling Brain Games for Creative Development



Last week we finished examining the question ‘why journal?’. Before we start to explore the various different forms of media that are all useful when doing creative journaling, I thought now would be a good time to introduce some of the ‘games’ and ‘journaling prompts’ that you can do in your creativity journal.


Over the coming weeks I shall be posting these alongside the regular serialisations about Journaling for Creativity. All these ‘games’ and ‘journaling prompts’, despite being quite diverse, have only one eventual purpose; to enhance your creativity and strengthen the connection between your logical-mind and your creative-mind.


"There are techniques that can help us name our dreams and dragons. They are designed to reopen the bridge between right and left to through traffic, to increase the left brain's awareness of its counter-part. Metaphor builds a bridge between the hemispheres, symbolically carrying knowledge from the mute right brain so that it may be recognised by the left as being like something already known."

Marilyn Ferguson, "The Aquarian Conspiracy"


Cerebral Duality

Forgive me for revisiting the current knowledge of cerebral duality; I do this for readers who are new to these pages. If you already know about this, or have been following the serialisation on the blog, then you might like to skip the next two paragraphs.

It is now known that the brain consists of two separate parts, a left half and a right half; the two halves being connected by a mass of nerve tissue called the corpus callosum. We also know that the majority of logical thinking occurs in the left half of the brain (left-brain for short), whilst the right half (right-brain for short) processes thoughts concerning imagery, associations and comparative thinking.

These two halves process our thoughts independently, each working in a fundamentally different way. The left-brain houses your logical-mind, and it processes thoughts step-by-step and, in general, is oriented towards tasks involving language and time. The right-brain houses your creative-mind, and, in general, is responsible for tasks that involve visuals, spatial reasoning, intuition, music and associative reasoning. It is not constrained to a linear sequence and performs these tasks simultaneously.


The need for balance

Whilst thinking, both halves of our brains generate thoughts. These resultant thoughts are then passed over to the other half of the brain via the bridge formed by the corpus callosum. In order to be ‘creative’, it is not just the ability to ‘think’ right-brained that is needed, but also to process those thoughts in each complementary half of the brain.

Creativity brain games operate on two basic principles:

1) The brain acts just like a muscle; if it is exercised, it will develop, its performance improves and it becomes easier for us to use its abilities. However, if it isn’t exercised then the exact opposite is true, performance decreases and it becomes harder to use its abilities.

2) Full creativity occurs when both the logical-mind and the creative-mind work in unison. To do this, they both have to “listen” to the traffic crossing the corpus callosum. By building a stronger bridge between the two halves you can not only increase the traffic flowing between them but also train each of the two minds to be aware of and to listen for that traffic.

If we only do right-brain, creative-mind exercises, we deprive our minds of harmony, in the same way as only performing logical tasks would do. Extremes of these mental states have their own popular caricatures that we all recognise, for example, the mad professor, the insane artist, whilst the most balanced are recognised for genius, for example, Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Brunel. Ideal games would have you perform mental exercises tasking both the logical and the creative minds simultaneously, but this is seldom possible. The simple reality is that most available brain exercises fall slightly either side of this perfect balance. This makes a collection of mind games necessary to both develop the all important connection and the ability to transfer ideas between your creative-mind and your logical-mind. Mind games sitting just either side of the logical/creative balance that overall equally exercise both forms of your mental muscle.

As with physical exercise, the mind is best helped if the exercise is regular and not sporadic. This is where the journaling for creativity has a huge advantage over on-line mind games, in that you can perform most of them during small breaks in your day or during idle time. Many of the ones listed below do not have to be completed in one sitting and can be split, making them easier to fit into the day.

Some of the games will require use of creativity journaling techniques that are not yet covered in the serialisation. When this is the case, I will include sufficient instruction of the technique with the game so that you may make full use of the activity. Later, once the details of that technique are posted, I will replace the instruction with a link to the relevant post.


Where to start

The journaling brain games will be posted each Wednesday and all currently available games are listed below. As in all things, some you will like and some you won't, this is not a problem since the games below are not a prescriptive list. We hope that you will find most games enjoyable to play and that you share your favourites with your friends who are writers or artists, so that they to may benefit from enjoying themselves.

Sensory impressions: A roadmap to explore the six sensory impressions.

Ten quirky thoughts: Exercises in looking beyond what is in front of your face.

Passion and the Devil’s advocate: Exercise in arguing without a logical or quantitative foundation.

In the dark with your mind open: Exercise in awareness and sensory expansion.

A small epiphany: Exercise using cluster diagrams to draw on creative thoughts.

Paradoxically: Exercise in capturing pure right brained thoughts.

Find five words: A way to get your writing engine started when stalled.

Write about a word you don't like: A way to become aware of exactly  why you don't like something.

Describe a tactile sensation: Use your creative-mind to work through the three levels of tactile description.

Looking carefully at quotes: Improve your awareness of powerful phrases all around you and discover why they have the impact they do.

A starter for…: Get your logical and creative minds talking together whilst learning how to craft catchy opening sentences.

Anti-self protection: Your mind naturally blocks you from working on distressing subjects. Learn how to become aware of and work around these natural writing blocks.

Doing your lines: The game involves seeing how many different ways, and from how many different perspectives you can write the same sentence, phrase or event.

With this brick: For this game, all you have to do is select an object, then list as many possible and diverse uses for it that you can dream up.

Finding metaphors: A quick game consisting of looking for and devising metaphors for events and items encountered during daily life.

The ripples of existance: This longer game, asks that you describe an object , person or event by only using the effects, the ripples, that the subject makes on the world around it.

Forming portmanteaus: A do anytime game; simply have fun forming portmanteaus whilst going about daily tasks and improve your creativity at the same time.

Illuminating alliterations: Form simple or complex allietrations either during your daily routine or as a seperate diversion.

• Using recurrence: Slightly more involved game of building recurrence into a sentence to give it more power or potency.

• All about a stranger: Highly enjoyable and addictive game of inventing new identities for unsuspecting strangers.

• The power of three: Simply game of recognition and replication of a powerful natural language rhythm.

• My thing is special because: Neat little game that develops the ability to look at everyday objects with new eyes.

• The simple complexity of oxymorons: A do anytime game of finding and forming oxymorons to develop intra-mind comunication.

• Tension in similar word pairs: A fifteen minute game of discovering the friction between two words that appear similar or the same.

• Varying the focal length: A longer word game where we seek to change the readers perception of events by changing their position in a scene

• Finding physical similes: A lovely little game for filling in the odd moment. Stretch your mind by finding the most abstract simile possible.

• Perpetual journal prompts: A simple but never ending game that produces an endless supply of themed personal journal prompts.

• Complete the story game: A social game for four or more people. Not journal based but too much fun to not include in this list.

• The story in the title game: A game using visual techniques to make titles more memorable..

Other journaling prompts

• Awareness: The tale told by movement: Discover the life story in the way a person moves.

• Awareness: Beware of assumptions: We are slaves to our own subconscious judgements. Learn how to master this hidden overlord..


The remaining games will be added to this list as they are posted and I will include links to newly published games in the monthly news letter.
Signing up for the newsletter will give you a monthly review of all the recent articles and games, making it easy for you to find out about any interesting recent articles.


Photo credit: Penguin, by Chris Nystrom.
"Journaling Brain Games for Creative Development" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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