Brooklyn 2012

One of the fun things about creativity is that it can provide us with illuminating insights into who we are, sometimes in roundabout ways. It lets us explore and play with our identity, even if we’re pretending to be someone else.

I include this interesting quote in Make a Mess from Mardy Grothe’s book I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like, which speaks to this:

“A metaphor is a kind of magical mental changing room – where one thing, for a moment, becomes another, and in that moment is seen in a whole new way. It’s like watching a man imitating a woman. We often learn more about the man in the few moments he acts like a woman than we can after years of observing him behave as a man.”

Below are 20 seemingly silly journal prompts, which might help you learn more about yourself, in hopefully a playful way. Answering them means suspending your rational, logical side. It means taking a trip into the cavernous, wonderful abyss of your imagination. Because that’s what creativity is all about, isn’t it?

  1. If I could be any piece of art, I’d be …
  2. If I were an appliance, I’d be …
  3. If I were a flower or plant, I’d be …
  4. If I could have a home anywhere in the world, I’d want to have a home here …
  5. If I could visit any planet, I’d visit …
  6. A genie suddenly appears, right now, and grants three of my wishes. These three wishes are … (But I can’t pick any wish that has to do with having more money.)
  7. If I were a scientist with my own lab and unlimited funds, I’d research …
  8. If I were a piece of clothing, I’d be …
  9. If I were a scent or aroma, I’d be …
  10. If I were a sound, I’d be …
  11. I’m a professor who’s particularly passionate about the course that I’m teaching, which is …
  12. If I were a word, I’d be this word …
  13. If I were a taste, I’d be …
  14. I am a storyteller, and I have the ability (for whatever reason) to only tell one story. The story I’ll tell is …
  15. If I were a street anywhere in the world, I’d be this street …
  16. If I were a memoir, my title would be …
  17. If I were a psychologist, I’d specialize in helping people with …
  18. If I were a color, I’d be the color …
  19. If I were a secret, I’d be a secret about …
  20. If I were a toy, I’d be this toy …

Set your timer for 5 to 10 minutes and breeze through these prompts in your journal. Or take your time with each one. Be sure to write down why you picked what you picked. Then ask yourself what three lessons you’ve learned about yourself as a result of finishing these wacky (and some not-so wacky) prompts. Everything counts — even if it’s that you really don’t like responding to a list of prompts.

You also can ask your loved ones — from your kids to your grandparents — to respond to these prompts. Ask them to write down their responses. Because this is a rich snapshot of their minds in a given moment. And it’s a rich snapshot of yours.