This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Creative Journaling and the 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.
This game is a creative journaling exercise that makes use of clustering in order to learn how to look anew at the things around you and how to elevate your perception by using all your senses.
How to play
Select a common object from your everyday life, and study it as if having just discovered it for the very first time.
Allow your sense of wonder to pervade your thoughts and feel for both the old emotions this object may bring up, and any emotions occurring whilst you are interacting with the object. Use and consider all your senses individually and deliberately as you play this game.
Feel the object as if you were a child; its form, its weight, its feel in your hand, its place in the world… What images come to mind, what thoughts does it evoke?
Smell the object. Identify if it has its own smell, if it carries the aroma of others or if it has a false aroma of association. What are your immediate reactions? What associations did these stir up?
Listen to the sounds surrounding it. Not just the noise it makes, but also sounds when you interact with it, for example when you tap it, drop it or blow against it. What do these surrounding sounds tell you about its construction or form? Do these sounds evoke feelings?
Taste the object if it is suitable to do so. Then again, why not try tasting it and see if by doing so old memories are evoked. (Please use some common sense and don’t taste possibly poisonous items.)
Look at the object and see how it was made, how it grew, how its proportions feel to your sense of “being right”, how it looks in its location. Become aware of all the little details, marks, reflections and oddities, then reflect on them and consider their significance.
Use your writer’s sixth sense, your mind’s eye, and wonder about the before and after of the object. How it has and how it will interact with your world, what associations are linked with the object (see Mind training games: Sensory impressions). Feel for the emotions and associations that ripple out into the world caused by this object.
Collect your thoughts with a cluster map in your creative journal. Then review your cluster map and look at the group that feels like the most significant ‘realisation’ you had about your object, the “small epiphany” from the title of the game.
Write a journal entry about your small epiphany. Attempt to put into words any emotions you are feeling.
Clustering, a brief introduction.
Cluster maps or cluster diagrams are a technique developed by Gabriele Lusser Rico. As the post on this technique is not yet written, I include here a brief introduction sufficient for the purposes of this game.
Cluster maps are similar in form to the more commonly know mind-maps, in that they have a central focus word which is surrounded by a galaxy of associated words. The difference being that unlike mind-maps where you may use concepts or sentences, the cluster map restricts each addition to a single word or name.
Place the name of your object as the central focus and then surround that word with the associations you identify as you play with your object. Next, look at these in turn and surround them with any further associations they generate.
These build very fast and since they are visual and do not involve any language structure, the right brain, the creative-mind, dominates the process. Normally, during the building of a cluster map, there comes a point where a strong desire emerges to write about what you now feel. Gabriele calls this a “trial web shift”. Why she calls it that is beyond the scope of this introduction, but for now I request that you resist this urge until after you have experienced all you can about your object.
Example cluster map: A cotton reel
The following cluster map is one I formed around the focus words “cotton reel”. It is a personal map, so do not expect to be able to make sense from it. However, it does make sense to me and that is the important part.
The purpose of the game
The main purpose of this mind training game is simply to remove the dull veneer of familiarity that covers every commonplace object around us, and to re-introduce a childlike wonder into our daily lives.
"We are surrounded by images of everyday experience. Only when we really open the mind's eye to see what is unusual about one of these – seeing it "as if for the first time" – can we write about it in such a way that we and the reader perceive it as an illumination, a small epiphany, a new awareness of what life is all about."
Gabriele Lusser Rico, "Writing the Natural Way"
The game also introduces a simple but deceptively powerful technique that allows us to make rapid and complex notes whilst keeping the logical-mind sub-dominant.
Photo credit: Thread, by Ben Dalton.
"Mind training games: A small epiphany" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.