Creativity Exercises: Simple Word Associations

Word association is what I consider to be the first creativity building exercise. It’s actually a simple improv comedy drill.

You can do a word association with a partner. First you say a word, and then your partner says the first word that comes to his mind, then you say the first word, then he says the first word, then you say the first word, and so on and so on. The goal is to go as fast as possible, listen to your partner, not pre-think of what you will say, and just say the first thing that comes to your mind. That’s really all there is too it.

If this sounds like something a psychiatrist might have you do, that’s because the goal of creativity exercises is to get you to quickly and easily tap into your subconscious – just like a psychiatrist. The difference here is we are not going to analyze what comes out. Our focus is to just develop the ability to be creative on command.

If you don’t have a partner, you can still do this on your own. Just say a word, then say the first word that comes to your mind, then say the next word that comes to your mind, then say the next word, and so on and so on. It sounds simple, but it gets complicated.

What you’ll find is that the first four or five words will come very easy because as soon as you say one word your mind instantly comes up with the next four or five. Beyond that, it gets tougher; that’s when you are tapping into your creativity. You have to just open your mouth and see what comes out.

You’ll know you’re using your subconscious if you don’t pause. When you pause (or hesitate, or stutter or stammer), you switch to “thinking” and are using your conscious mind rather than your subconscious.

Practice until you can go for 30 seconds or more without that hesitation because then you’re really bypassing the conscious mind and tapping into your creativity.

This is just an exercise to build your creativity muscle. You’re not going to use this exercise to solve all of your problems. But when you when you build this muscle then apply it to brainstorming or problem solving, you will be able to generate some very interesting very quickly.

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