“If people never did silly things, then nothing intelligent would ever get done.” —Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tired of staring at a blank screen? Are all your ideas frozen inside your brain?
Try this exercise. It’ll thaw your brain cells.
4 Steps to Jumpstart Your Stalled Creativity
Step 1. Randomly select a book from your bookshelf. Open the book and plunge your finger to a page. Choose the nearest noun to the left or right of your finger. The one you like best.
I plucked a book from my bookcase. A suspense novel. This was going to be exciting. Maybe my finger would land on murder, stabbing, glock, or scream. I looked under my finger and shifted my gaze to the nearest noun. Tickseed? I kid you not. The noun was tickseed. Ew.
Step 2: Look up your word online. Even if it’s a common word like man. List facts about your noun. Ten or so. Keep it simple.
I searched tickseed coreopsis online, which led to other pages about their enemies. Here’s my list of facts:
- Yellow wildflower *
- Requires a sunny spot *
- Heavy summer bloomer
- Attracts birds and butterflies
- Suitable for cut flowers
- Pests: Aphids, Beetles, Leafhoppers
- Aphids live on stems and the underside of leaves; they’re sucking insects; soldier beetles eat aphids *
- Beetles are leaf eating or predators; have powerful chewing jaws *
- Leafhoppers jump, fly, and suck the juices from plants *
Step 3: Choose the 5 most interesting facts.
What drew my attention, besides the gross name, was the tickseed’s enemies. So I chose the facts with the asterisks (*).
Step 4. Now create something from your five facts. Something silly or profound. Have fun. Use all five facts but don’t spend a lot of time on the activity. This is simply to get your creative juices flowing.
From my online research, I could’ve printed pictures of aphids, beetles, leafhoppers, and a tickseed plant. I could’ve made a collage of the pests attacking the tickseed coreopsis. But I’m a writer, so I wrote a short story.
Alf looked up from sucking the green stuff in time to see a black-and-yellow striped tank land on a nearby leaf. What kind of alien was this? He extracted his sucking mouth part from the stem and scrambled over Buddy, Dominic, and a few other aphids from his colony to check out the invader.
The tank spoke. “What plant is this?”
The tank took a step to the left and to the right. “Where? Where? I hate ticks.”
“Tickseed Coreopsis is a plant, you dolt. Don’t you know your asteronomy? Tickseed Coreopsis is one of the unigarden’s nine plants. The one closest to the sun.”
“Dolt! Watch what you call me, aphid. Be thankful I’m not a soldier beetle or I’d chew you up and digest you.”
Alf regarded the beetle’s powerful jaws. “Okay, okay. So you’ve checked out Tickseed Coreopsis. Now take off.”
“Why? I can see this is a plant of many suns. They’re what attracted me to it.”
Alf sighed. “They’re not suns. They’re yellow blooms.”
A leafhopper landed on the beetle’s leaf.
The beetle crawled toward it. “What do you think you’re doing?”
The beetle flexed his jaw. “Then hop off!”
Alf lifted his head toward the sun. “For sucking out loud. What is this plant coming to?
The leafhopper inspected the leaf at his six feet. “What plant is this?”
The beetle spoke up. “Tickweed.”
Alf rolled his sucking mouth part. “Tickseed. Seed!”
The beetle stiffened. “I will not cede. I’m going to eat this entire leaf.”
Alf kicked the pollen off his feet and turned. Let the hopper and the tank have it out over the leaf. He was going back to his stem.
What was your noun and what creation did you come up with?