August 6, 2018
Be a Word Collector, Grow Your Creativity
I’m a big fan of all books by author-illustrator and creativity evangelist Peter H. Reynolds, who has become a friend.
The books themselves speak to creative strengths of all varieties:
invention strengths (Going Places),
artistic strengths (Ish),
imagination strengths (The Dot),
independence strengths (The North Star),
musical strengths (Playing From the Heart),
and now my personal favorite,
language strengths (Word Collector).
I’m also a big fan of using picture books as catalysts for learning, exploration, and creativity.
So let me share an activity that I’ve been using for a decade to help adult and kid learners become more detailed observers and creative writers. Originally inspired by Poem Crazy, Word Collector now gives us an easy, visual jumping off point.
Here’s how to play the word collector game:
- Read Word Collector for inspiration.
- Grab your pencil and Post-it notes or tiny slips of card stock or cut-up index cards.
- Take a walk around your house, office, out in nature, or in a town or city. Don’t forget unassuming spaces like warehouses or basements or bathrooms. Words can be found anywhere!
- Collect words as you go, writing each one on an individual card or note. Get lots of nouns and verbs, and descriptive words, too.
- When you’re done with your walk, do what Jerome does in Word Collector and start “stringing your words together.” Don’t think too much, and let random and surprising combinations happen.
- Find a fun container to keep your collection. I have mine in a small paint can. Susan Wooldridge uses a fish bowl.
- Keep extra blank cards around so you can continually add to your word collection when new ones come to you.
Here are some ways to use your word collection:
- As a spark when you’re stuck. Grab a handful of words and string them together. What ideas do these combinations bring to mind to help you solve your problem?
- As poetry starters.
- Collect words around certain topics.
- Perhaps you are working on a marketing piece for a new business service, or for a concert you are promoting. Collect words connected with your topic and use them to develop fresh messaging.
- Maybe you are a teacher creating a lesson plan on World War II. Start a word collection about the topic to help you think about the topic differently.
- Enlist others to start a word collection with you. Read Word Collector at a team meeting. Have your team collect words that describe your company mission in a central place. Use these to develop your vision statement.
- Teachers, read Word Collector to your classes and collect words around a topic of study or around a character trait you are trying to encourage, like kindness.
- To build vocabulary, collect the most obscure words that you see and don’t know. Engage students to do the same.
These are just some ideas on how to use your word collection. Sparkitivity has created a WordPlay workshop using the word collection premise to teach writing. If you’re interested, let us know through the contact page of this site and we’ll put you on the list for when it’s available.
Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.