Random writing spurs creativity

Creative writing (2): Stimulus words - random text ideas

With the stimulus word method (also called the lexicon method or random method or “random words”) a dictionary is the central aid. The aim of this creative technique is to initiate the idea and writing process through the systematic creation of random words. Planned coincidence? What seems paradoxical at first glance, turns out to be a helpful method at second glance to encourage one's own “out-of-the-box thinking”, because random words help us break out of habitual thought patterns.

The following example shows this: A few months ago, a department head explained his ideas about creativity and creative teamwork to me. “True genius”, he says, cannot be trained, creativity training is superfluous and ultimately everyone is responsible for their own creativity. This conversation kept me thinking for a while and I decided to post a post in the creative blog. The question that particularly interested me was: Which reservations and which behaviors do I notice again and again among “creativity skeptics”?

I sat in front of the blank screen and - I couldn't think of anything. Spontaneously I decided to use the stimulus word method and pick seven terms from my dictionary as a random stimulus. It looked like this:

  • moon
  • Gift
  • murder
  • discussion
  • centipede
  • weapon
  • Churchill

My first impulse was to describe former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill as an example of a genius or a non-genius. The second idea was to publish an article about the creativity of children, because with the random words “moon” and “millipede” I immediately associated children's stories or songs like “the moon has risen”. But since I know that certain rules have to be adhered to when writing creatively, I first wrote each of the seven terms on an extra sheet of paper and clustered my ideas (see Creative Writing (1): Clustering). The finished text, which was then posted in the creative blog, reads like this:

Long live the creative genius

Always make yourself aware: Few people are allowed to be creative. YOU can be happy if YOU are one of the few ingenious minds who immediately know an answer to every problem and are sure that no other solution is right. Therefore, YOU do not need to ask others for their opinion and initiate a discussion. You are creative or you are not! Only a few people are given this rare gift!

Since creative geniuses like YOU have wonderful memories, YOU don't have to write down any ideas. Since YOU immediately know the only true answer, the ingenious idea only has to be expressed and implemented by others. So creativity is a simple thing: YOU have the idea and others realize it. Company meetings, in which the heads are just smoking from thinking and maybe even moderated by creative trainers, are as superfluous as a goiter. It only costs time, money and is of no use. Meetings or seminars are just as pointless as reading books or playing sports or just laughing or sleeping. Confused spirits who claim that this type of activity stimulates creativity counter geniuses like YOU with the following answers:

1. I've studied and I'm already smart.
2. Sport is murder. Sir Winston Churchill already knew that.
3. The world is bad. Only the ignorant and sadists can laugh about it.
4. I can still sleep after I'm dead.

It goes without saying that YOU will only make such scientific statements when asked for them. Because basically YOU hate questions of all kinds, such as those asked by children: What color is the moon? Does a millipede really have 1000 feet? Do you actually tie up the water in a port? Well - in response to such enormous, infantile, superfluous questions, YOU as a genius know that only compassionate shaking of the head and a determined turning away (not to say flight!) Are the real weapons in the fight against mental stupidity. It's good that there are people like YOU who know and pay attention to this. Without YOU the world would be lost! Long live the creative genius!

As you can see, I wrote a gloss - a journalistic genre that I hadn't planned at all in advance. The text is in the truest sense of the word a “chance product with random words” and it would certainly not have come about if I had dealt with my question in a strictly scientific manner. So my tip for all bloggers is: Let chance inspire you. Do not hesitate and pick up an encyclopedia or newspaper the next time you have thinking or writer's block. Without thinking twice, pick three to seven terms and use these stimulus words as creative suggestions for your blog texts. Have lots of fun with it.

The phases of the stimulus word method at a glance

  • 1. What is it about? Formulate a question about a topic you want to write about
  • 2. Spontaneously search for some random words from a dictionary (three to seven terms). Alternatively, a catalog or newspaper can serve as a “treasure trove”
  • 3. Combine the various random words with the initial question and record your associations in writing using the clustering method
  • 4. Now create a small, coherent text (important: not all association clusters have to be used; see Part 1: Clustering).

about the author

Ruth Pink is a graduate political scientist and has been involved in journalistic training for many years. Two of her specialist books are aimed specifically at media professionals: “Communication in editorial offices” and “Creativity in journalism”, see www.zv-online.de

Further creative information including various podcasts can be found in the Pink & Stock creative blog, see www.kreativblog.de

About the “Creative Writing” series

All articles at a glance: