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Journaling for Creativity.

Journaling word games: Describe a tactile sensation

This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity 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.

Introduction Contents Techniques About Method Games for Creative Development Describe a Tactile Sensation


The game

Journaling for Creativity: Describe a tactile sensation The sense of touch is something we all take for granted as we use it every day. This word game is a quick ‘fit-in-anytime’ word game, which can be played constantly as you experience life. It is a journaling word game that calls for an awareness of the world as it comes in contact with your skin.


How to play

Start playing this game by focusing your awareness on one object selected for its unique surface texture. Write down in your creativity journal all the ways you might describe its surface. Depending on your preference, this could be written as a list or as a mind-map.

You will probably discover a tendency to start by listing the obvious descriptive words and adverbs, such as smooth, coarse etc., followed by listing tactile synonyms, for example, ‘like silk’, ‘like worn leather’ etc. Play with these tactile synonyms in your mind and expand on them with any images they might evoke, for example, ‘like soft silk drawn across the skin’, ‘like the warmth from an open fire’, ‘as soft as dandelion seeds’.

After working with the tactile synonyms, look for any associations that have been brought to mind. These may be from old memories and/or old emotions. See if you can work your associations and emotions into describing the texture description:

“The surface is slippery and as treacherous as wet black ice on a sloping path”

“Smooth white ice, a clean page on which to write a dance”

When we include these memories and emotions, we start begin to form tactile metaphors to describe the surface. In the above sentences, the first surface is ‘treacherous’ whilst the second is a ‘clean page’. Both are from the same root, both are slippery, and yet the two metaphors used here guide the reader’s thoughts quite differently.

Our body touches every chair it sits on, every piece of floor or ground it stands on, every surface it lies on, every piece of clothing in contact with the skin, every tool our hands wield, everything we attempt to grasp, lift, propel, receive, or deliver. And perhaps most importantly, we touch each other…

Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Coming to our Senses

As you become more familiar with the game, it can be played as a mental game whenever you come in contact with something. Write the best descriptions on a separate page in your creative journal.


The purpose of the game

This game is primarily about learning to become aware of the textures of everything around you and of the associations they hold for you. I state this as the primary purpose because by being aware of the world, and of the fine detail it holds, writer is then able to produce captivating work, brimming with detail and interest.

The game also offers more benefits to the player. It provides a way to discover and practice a powerful way of conveying textures to your reader, beyond using simplistic descriptions, whilst also forming a collection of textures and descriptions. The final benefit is that, to do this you have to exercise your creative-mind in order to provide the initial associations and then convert them into textural metaphors.


We would love to hear about your experiences with this journal game, whether good or bad. Maybe you have some ideas to extend this game? If you do, we would very much like to hear them. Please leave these or any other suggestions in the comments area below.

Photo credit: Macro of worn out tennis ball texture, by Horia Andrei Varlan.
“Journaling word games: Describe a tactile sensation” by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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