Neat Newsletter

Latest news and information straight to your inbox.
No need to visit the site and search through recent posts.
Easy opt-out at any time.


Free Service

Free help for anyone
interested in improving their
Journaling for Creativity.

Mind training games: With this brick

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 With This Brick


The game

Journaling for Creativity:  Mind training games: With this brickThis game can be played both in your journal and socially with friends and family. It also makes a fantastic “keep the kids occupied” game whilst travelling.

The game’s origins date back to the swinging sixties, where it was devised by academics for measuring creativity. More recently, a modification of the game has been popularised in the television show “Whose line is it anyway?” in the form of “the prop-game”.

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


How to play

Select an object to act as the focus of the game. This can be literally anything; the original scientific tests selected, amongst other items, house bricks, paper clips and newspapers.

When playing this as a social game, it is best to physically have the item or “prop” to play with. This can then be passed between players, acting as a prompt and indicating whose turn it is.

Each player, when they receive the “prop”, gives an alternative use for it before passing it on to the next player. If it is your turn and you are out of ideas, try for a short while to dream up a new use, but if inspiration is not forthcoming don’t hang on to it too long as the game is at its best when it is “bubbling”.

Normally, the social game is not played with any form of scoring system, since the point is to have a fun time dreaming up crazy uses for the prop. If you wish to add a scoring system you can, but I will leave it to you to invent a scoring system for original ideas, time allowance and/or passes.

When playing the game in your journal, set aside a few pages and write your selected item as the title. Then under it, list all the different uses you can come up with. Playing it personally allows you to also use clustering and visualisation techniques in the journal to really stretch your mental muscles and spark further creativity.


As with many of the previous games, the initial ideas will be the obvious and logical ones;

With this brick… (Normal, logical)

Paper weight

Ash tray (dished variety)

Door stop

For a smash and grab robbery

Put in front of a wheel to stop it rolling

Propping something up

Place in toilet cistern to save water

A small step


As it gets difficult the ideas will start exploring areas away from the obvious;

With this brick… (Different)

Tie to keys to stop losing them

Keeping matches in at a party

Stop my books from falling over


But if you keep going eventually creativity ignites;

With this brick… (Creative)

Drill out the middle and grow herbs in it

Smash or crush into sand for an aquarium

Throw in a pond and photograph the ripples

Cut into slices, paint and use as drink coasters

Carve into an Easter Island head for the garden


The exercise can go on for as long as you wish and as usual, the more fun and off-the-wall your ideas are, the more you will gain from the game. Stretching your thinking to alternate locations, times, causes and effects will all provide an abundant harvest of ideas.


The purpose of the game

The origin of the game is attributed to J. P. Guilford. His work was adapted by Ellis Torrance and who used it in the Torrance test of creative thinking. This test then became one of the standard tests for measuring an individual’s creativity throughout the latter part of the last century. It is due to their work that the question of what may be done with house bricks or paper clips has become a repeated subject of discussion, and a quick search on the internet will provide hundreds of potential possibilities.

The purpose of the game, other than being a lot of fun, is to get the logical-mind and the creative-mind working together. This collaboration does not happen immediately and it is only after the logical-mind has exhausted its “easy” options that the exploration of shape, form, subtraction or addition start to included and combined in the thinking.

The longer you play the game, the more you are teaching your logical-mind and your creative-mind how to collaborate when required. This widens the bridge  carrying information between the two sides of the brain, so allowing more information to be exchanged in the future. It also has a positive effect on your skill of “thinking outside the box”, for example;

Before appearing on a radio program, author Rowena Cherry needed as many examples as possible of ways to kill a person using a hot glue gun. She turned to the social networks for help and I am pleased to say that, due to the skill gained from this game, I was able to surprise her with the amount of possibilities, as well as disturbing some of her other followers.


13-04-03p2, Rowena Cherry Testimonial



Do you have ten minutes? Why not try out the game for yourself right now. You could try the classic ‘what can you do with a paper-clip/newspaper’ prompts or maybe think of a new one of your own. When you have finished, let us know how you got on in the comments area below.

Photo credit: Con Pencil, by Daniel X. O'Neil. . "Journaling mind training game: With this brick" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Share Button

Comments are closed.