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Journaling for Creativity.

Journaling word games: Finding metaphors

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 Finding Metaphors


Journaling for creativity: Word games: Finding metaphorsThe game

This is a very quick and simple word game that can be played as a mental exercise or as a game in your creative journal.

It consists of looking at the items you encounter during daily life and devising interesting metaphors for them.


About metaphors

A metaphor is a phrase in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have a common association.

For this game we are only concerning ourselves with primary metaphors and complex metaphors.

Primary metaphors are straightforward and intuitively understood metaphors, such as;

Knowing is seeing

My job stinks

Time is money

When these primary metaphors are combined, complex metaphors are formed. A master at this was William Shakespeare;

“All the world's a stage.

And all the men and women merely players.

They have their exits and their entrances.”

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Here the metaphor of 'the world being a stage' is combined with the metaphors of ‘exits’ for death and failure, and ‘entrances’ for birth and opportunity.

"Linguistic metaphor is simultaneously Sign-mind (logical-mind) and Design-mind (creative-mind), and as a consequence, it has the power to connect our two modes of knowing."

Gabriele Rico "Writing the natural Way"


How to play

As you walk through your day, look around at the things and events surrounding you and see if you can find a similarity between them and something else. Look for associations between what your senses and emotions are currently telling you about these things or events and what they have told you previously about other events.

Knowing is seeing (clarity)

My job stinks (revulsion)

Time is money (lost opportunity)

At first it may be difficult to spread your awareness away from the physical and the obvious. For example, ‘politics’ may only appear as conflict, as a war between opposites, but by broadening awareness it may resemble a turbulent sea,  a living creature, or even a circus. The more you practice forming primary metaphors, the easier it becomes to unearth complex metaphors for any event or item.



The purpose of the game

The game is intended to develop a writer’s ability to enhance their writing by being able to form and so include in their work interesting and emotive metaphors. By practicing the forming of metaphors when viewing the world, the writer builds the skill in producing primary and complex metaphors.

Since forming metaphors needs to cross connect things or events at an emotional and an associative level, the game also increases mental activity between the logical-mind and creative-mind, producing improved clarity of thought and enhancing creativity in general.


"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"




If you have five minutes, why not try the game now? Pick a rich subject and see if you can form a very novel metaphor from your choice. Then afterwards let us know how you fared in the comments area below.

Photo credit: Airplane blur, by Tschaff.
"Journaling for Creativity: Word games: Finding metaphors" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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