Only Have Five Minutes for Creativity? Try This Metaphor Exercise

I’ve been under the weather and trying not to be overwhelmed by life. Having one of those weeks when it seems impossible to be creative. So it feels like a perfect time to rerun this post about one of my favorite quick creative exercises. Even when you’re not feeling well and have no time, you CAN nourish your creative soul with this five-minute play break.

Okay, I’m going to go drink some hot tea and write a couple of metaphors before I get back to work…if you’d like to try your hand at the metaphor exercise, check out the starter items in the Tiny Packages section of the Readers’ Sandbox—or come up with your own. And, as always, I love it when you share your creative endeavors here!

Sandbox Challenge #1: A Camel is a Walking Sand Dune:

I’ve been engaged in several rounds of  a grueling match with the Human Head Pounder, the Vicious Throat Scratcher, the Phlegmy Cough Monster and a few of their other unpleasant pals. Now that I’ve gotten them halfway back into their caves, I’ve started thinking about how to stay creative when I’m sick. When deadlines start moaning because it looks like I may not meet them. When unpaid bills and undone chores begin growing horns and making increasingly scary noises. When the words in my brain stick together like swollen, overcooked pasta.

Then I remembered that a camel is a walking sand dune.

camel shadow

It’s a metaphor exercise I developed for myself during a period of intense busy-ness that had me nearly crying with my inability to find time for creativity. In order to calm myself down, I decided I could take FIVE MINUTES before bed every night for creativity.

Here’s what I did: I carried a small notebook with me, and during the day, I would jot down a few items, like “music blasting from a passing car,” “ocean waves,” “a black cat,” “a waterfall.”

Then, in those five minutes before bed, I would create metaphors for some of the things I’d written:

Music blasting from a passing car is a 30-second parade.

Waves are arpeggios on the ocean.black cat in garden

A black cat is a soft shadow.

A waterfall is long hair falling down a woman’s back.

I find this a wonderful exercise, because it sparks my creative imagination even when I have only a couple of tired minutes. And some of the metaphors I’ve created in these stolen moments have found their way into my stories and essays. I still keep a small notebook with starter items always ready to be turned into metaphors.

I’m going to begin issuing small writing challenges here. These will be geared toward the concept of this blog—that creativity can take place in tiny found moments—so none of them should take very long.

For this first challenge, write a metaphor/metaphors like the ones I’ve discussed here.  Post your answers in the Tiny Packages section of the Readers’ Sandbox.  I’ve left some starter items there, or you can come up with your own.


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4 Responses to “Only Have Five Minutes for Creativity? Try This Metaphor Exercise”


  1. 1 Neeks March 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    What a creative idea, neat!

  2. 3 Julie March 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I LOVE this. I’m often too busy to write and then when I do carve out time, I get frustrated that I can’t call beautiful images and metaphors to mind.

    I’m trying this!

    • 4 stranglingmymuse March 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

      I know exactly what you mean, Julie. I bet you’ll love making metaphors this way. Have fun with it!

      ~Sandy


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Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

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