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Journaling for Creativity.

Mind training games: All about a stranger

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 All about a Stranger


 The game

Tsukamoto crowdThis week’s game is a fun game that exercises your imagination in an amusing and useful way.
It can be played as a quick diversion whilst waiting for something or you could set out to play it as a relaxing and entertaining journaling date.

The game entails selecting one person from a crowd and building an imaginary life for him or her in your creative journal.


How to play

Go somewhere where you can sit down and observe people; a place where people tend to remain and mill around for a while is ideal, for example airports, bus or train stations. Places where people are passing by, for instance street cafés, tend to be less suitable as your muse will wander away too quickly.

Start off by giving your muse an identity;

Departing on platform 3 is Snea Quay, one…”

Follow up with their occupation;

“…of the foremost dips in the northern territories. Today…”

What is your muse up to?

“…he is on his way to the annual pick-pocket convention that is held…”

Where is your muse going?

“…every year in O’Phenderr.”

Then let your imagination go wild, any distinguishing details?

Police, to this day, cannot resolve how a man with fingers akin to ‘Pork Farms Best Sausages’, manages to continually fleece tourists undetected.”


Then let your imagination go wild, any distinguishing details? “Police, to this day, cannot resolve how a man with fingers akin to ‘Pork Farms’ Best Sausages’, manages to continually fleece tourists undetected.”

Continue adding details and complications to his/her imaginary life for as long as your muse holds your interest or remains in view. This is not an exercise in producing an identi-kit of a character, or a shopping list of character details. Be creative as you dream, and weave a simple story around the details you make up.

In order to kick-start your imagination, make the first few “characterisations” as far “off-the-wall” as possible. A few secret-service agents, shape-shifting aliens and vampires dripping with sunscreen, will go a long way towards making this an enjoyable game and not a serious “researching character ideas exercise”. Which, of course, it is; just don’t allow it to become that particular task since doing so will limit the extent of your creativity.

Then, once your imagination is fired up, generate new identities for as many ‘characters’ as you can find in the crowd. Do this in your head, talking to yourself is applauded, but don’t try to write them all down in your creative journal. Reserve that right only for biographies that you feel particularly pleased about concocting; otherwise it stops being a game and reverts to a task.

If you can, try to snap a photo to add to your creativity journal. Then when you review the entry, the image will help greatly with remembering it and bring your memory of the time to life.

If your muse is particularly stationary, try sketching him/her, but don’t be surprised if the sketch has a stronger resemblance to the person in your characterisation than it does to the original subject of the sketch.


The purpose of the game

This game allows you to play with your imagination like few others. The act of allowing your imagination to run wild is something few of us do in everyday life, and doing so is intensely pleasurable.

There is also a lesson to the writer/artist who plays this game; the flood of crazy identities, occupations and notions demonstrates that the creative mind has no shortage of creative ideas. So when we feel blocked it is because, temporarily, we have forgotten how to listen.

Of course, another outcome from the game is a collection of characterisations of which any one of them or any part of one of them may be useful in the current or future project.



Why not try a quick game right now? Look at the girl in the photo above; who is she?
I would love to see your creations, please leave them in the comments area below.

Photo credit: Tsukamoto crowd, by Chris Gladis.

"Mind training games: All about a stranger" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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