Often, when faced with the challenge of writing or speaking creatively, people find that their imagination freezes; they protest that they have no ideas worth putting down, or they may even be led to claim that they have no imagination. What such individuals need is to learn how to lead into an idea, in order to 'catch the imagination'. The following exercises all concentrate on the verbal creation of ideas. They build on the ability to associate and 'think around' a subject.
Preliminary Exercise: Free Association.
Over a period of thirty seconds, speak any associations that spring to mind, in the form of single words. Do not censor in any way: whatever word next appears in your mind, just say it and get on to the next one. Try to keep the associations flowing in a chain. Choose a starting-word (from the following list) and then continue by freely associating.
Cycle through this list until you can freely associate quite readily on each of them.
Step 1. Choose one of the following words at random and deliver a chain of free associations, as in the previous exercise. The word that was used is noted.
Step 2. In this Step we are looking for an idea, image or phrase that comes to mind, regardless of whether the concept forms a complete sentence or even makes any 'sense'. After each association, repeat the root-word, and then make another association. Do not censor - just let your mind run free. Choose a word from the following list:
Note down the word that you worked from.
Step 3. Next, close your eyes, empty your mind, and then speak any word or concept that comes into it; then freely associate from that word, with a chain of phrases, for a couple of minutes. This phrase may include feelings, emotions, sensations, pains, attitudes, a described image, etc. Let it happen! Note down the word that you worked from.
Step 4. Take the word used on Step 1 (SEA, for example). Repeat the word in the form of three statements (that you cycle through repeatedly):
'(WORD) is ...'
'(WORD) has ...'
'(WORD) goes with ...'
Try to think laterally as well as in one particular area - e.g. you might be stuck on the idea of sea-side, but also consider the world beneath the sea, shipwreck, untravelled regions, etc. branching out in new directions. In this exercise you begin to make it happen.
Step 5. Now review the ideas you generated on Steps 2, 3 & 4 - refer to your notes of the starting-words used. The idea is to make a 'knowledge-rich' network of ideas. Story-telling can then take advantage of this knowledge-rich net, to become an activity in which the right brain can participate fully.
Step 6. Next make-up a short story or discourse, based on these items. If you dry-up or if you lose the theme and ramble-off onto another story, remind yourself of one of the three items, so you can link it into your story. Your associations and ideas may relate to your own or others' experiences, or be imagined newly in the present moment, but the story and the way the items are linked together should be a new creation.