“I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells.”–Dr Seuss.
After two months of vanishing from the blogging scene, I am back to the grind. Incase you wonder the reason for my absence, Well it was summer holidays!! Its the time we take to visit family and friends back in our home country ,India. I had intentionally kept away from all kinds of electronic gadgets .Switched off my phone (only occasionally turned it on to connect with friends in India& look up their numbers to call) and shutdown my laptop. Honestly, there was no time to miss my gadgets, as the entire trip was jam packed with travel, a social function conducted by us ,reunions with relatives and friends ,sight seeing and just being around lots of people! that left no time to crave for any virtual interaction. I knew writing during an Indian vacation would require much more discipline than I’m afraid I currently possess ! and working after lights out for the rest of the family which was way beyond our current bedtime here! Toss in some jetlag, excitement of meeting family ,the daily routines of catering to more people &the sheer exhaustion of interacting with each one of them, I was knocked out before my head hit the pillow. So I decided I would not fret about getting my ideas out to the world and simply blend with the crowd and observe (and boy! There was loads to take in!)I knew random observations were never a waste and always added to your creative database. However irrelevant it may seem, the brain is capable of making sense out of any nonsense.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”–Dr.Seuss.
So today my post is about a little creative exercise that can be done anytime to solve a problem or brainstorm an idea which is drawn from the vast data bank of all your conscious and unconscious observations, information, experiences, emotions and ideas that have been fed into your brain. Its quite simple, pick any random word and jot down the first word that comes to your mind when you think of that word. Do the same for the word you jotted down and keep going until you feel like stopping. At first the words may not make any sense and in fact may seem like utter nonsense!but if you keep coming back to it, you will see associations that you never thought of the first time and every visit will bring forward a new dimension until you arrive upon a wonderful idea or solution. We all know our brains are more powerful than any super computer and every second we are consciously and unconsciously feeding it with loads of data which is being safely stored away for future reference. No matter what words we pick, our subconscious mind will find a way to associate it according to our current need though we may not be aware of it initially. Mind mapping (which I covered in a previous post)can be an excellent tool to help with this exercise.
When using this exercise for problem solving, it does require a little bit of patience and out of the box thinking but practice will help get the creative juices flowing. This can also be used as a fun idea generator for stories or any form of writing. Here is a quick example to get you started!
Its summer break and you need ideas to teach life skills to kids in a fun way but you have no idea where to start or how to go about it. You need ideas to get you started. So I’m going to use random word associations to help come up with a plan. Since its for kids, I’m going to start with the word, KIDS and write the first word that comes to my mind when I think of the word ,Kids and keep going until I feel like .
Kids—- fun—– play—– fight—- draw—- art—– pack—— dish—-cloth—-neat—–seat——heat—–will—–can—-do—-finish—-might—-sight.
From these set of words I could pick a couple of words that might cater to a life skill I might want to teach, and focus only on that during the summer break. Like dish (helping put away dishes or setting the table) or cloth ( folding their clothes or putting away their clothes in its appropriate place) . Now obviously I would do better to teach the skill in a fun and playful manner and for this I could use art and drawing to help me, for example draw and put up a visual reminder of the steps needed to be taken to complete the task from start to finish. Put this up at a place which is within the kids sight and motivate them to do their best with a pack of simple goodies when the job is well done. This is just a simple example of the use of this technique in our everyday problem solving needs in a creative manner.
“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” –Dr. Seuss -The Lorax
Each person’s interpretation to the same set of words will be different and will be oriented to his/her goal and that’s what makes it all the more amazing!
The starting word can be picked randomly from a book or picture or magazine . As with most creative exercises spontaneity is what matters. Too much time to think up a word is not the idea. For younger children the starting word and subsequent words can be picked from a pack of picture cards and the story or idea can be drawn in pictures . It could provide as an excellent cooling off activity for kids after a temper fit or rough time in a social setting and encourage them to think of possible creative solutions and help them enhance their problem solving skills. Initially multiple rounds of modelling and support will be needed when introducing this technique with kids . The most important thing to keep in mind while doing this is, every idea born out of the mind is like a baby, no matter how big, small, bright, dull, fantastic or senseless it may seem, it is still worth loving and cherishing.
As always, I can’t wait to hear about the wonderful ideas this technique helped you all generate and the fabulous ways in which it was used!!!
Image courtesy :Pixabay