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Journaling for Creativity.

Mind training games: Finding physical similes

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 physical similes


The game

Journaling for Creativity This week’s game is one of the really enjoyable, fun games that can fill any odd moment. If played in your journal by yourself, it makes for a satisfying diversion or it can be a pleasurable social game played amongst friends.


How to play

Look at your surroundings and for the items there identify other things that have similar physical characteristics.

In other words find physical similes of the original object.

You can play this game at almost any time during the day, either as a purely intellectual game or combined with your journal to record the most interesting ones. It also makes for a good social game with either friends or children and it is always incredibly surprising just what other people’s imaginations generate from the same starting subject. The game should also throw up some quite abstract associations; this is a good thing and a sure sign that your creative-mind is participating in your game.

I thought I would demonstrate possible increasing abstraction with a list of physical similes for ‘life belt’ and ‘road’. These are separated by degrees of abstraction, or some might say absurdity. Just remember, this is a game; fun and absurdity is good, serious and logical is bad.


Life belt – doughnut, washer, tyre

Road – river, lava, train track

Less obvious

Life belt – Saturn’s rings, toilet seat

Road – ditch, scar


Life belt – ripples, stadium

Road – data cable, snake

Loosely connected

Life belt – kiss (lips), castle

Road – rainbow, tree branch


(Note: These are listed in almost exactly the order they occurred to me.)


As in all our previous imagination games, don’t give up on your subject once your initial ideas start to dry up. Because, it is due to gently walking through and beyond that dry point in your mind that you will be able to find the best ideas.

For those of you who cannot ‘see’ the associations between ‘life belt’ and ‘castle’ or ‘road’ and ‘tree’ branch. Well, my associations for these are that; castles also encircle and protect whilst ants use tree branches as highways to their food. This game is all about finding physical associations, so don’t get too logical.



The purpose of the game

The purpose of this game is to exercise the associative parts of your mind. As with the other games, it starts by drawing on the logical-mind’s associations, all of which will be physically very similar, easy to identify and quickly exhausted. After the game has used up all the obvious physical associations it will start to request more from the creative-mind; it will be after this point that the more abstract answers are supplied.

By exercising the mind in this way you develop the ability to draw a creative association more easily. Think of it as exercising a muscle, the more you exercise, the better the performance it will provide.



Now here’s a challenge for you. Can you think of an even more abstract physical simile for a life belt than any of those listed above? If you can, then please leave your answers in the comments area below.

Photo credit: Train Tracks, by Glacier Tim.

"Mind training games: Finding physical similes" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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