Tips to improve your writing skills

Making the strange more familiar

Example: Compare the economic administration of a country to the administration of a home. Then, the students need to try to understand why a country increases its foreign debt.

Making the familiar more strange

This means to distort, reverse or transpose the everyday ways to see and respond that make the world a safe and familiar place (making things “out of focus”). There are four mechanisms to achieve this objective:

Personal analogy. Faraday “scrutinizing… in the very heart of the electrolyte, trying to make its atoms game visible to his mental eyes” (Tyndall).

Direct analogy. Alexander Graham Bell said: “It was curious to me that the bones of the human ear were so thick, compared to the delicate and feeble wall that makes them act, and so it occurred to me that if such a delicate wall could move bones relatively thick, why a thicker bigger piece of membrane would not be able to move my piece of steel. And so the telephone was conceived “.

The forced comparison of a scientific observation with that of another field tends to impose a fresh expression to a problem.

Symbolic analogy. Unlike personal analogy, here objective and impersonal images are used to describe the problem. These images, though technically inexact, are aesthetically satisfactory. Symbolic analogy is a very concise, almost poetic, statement of the implications of a selected key word of the problem analyzed or that is related to the problem.

Example: (a) zipper –safe intermittence; (b) mixture – balanced confusion; (c) acid – impure aggressor; etc.

Fantastic analogy. Ideal, though probably not applicable, solutions are proposed.

LET’S ASSUME THAT…

Statements like this one: what would happen if Earth was square-shaped? Or what if there was no gravity?

LINGUISTIC PREDICTION

You can present incomplete paragraphs for the student to complete them freely. Examples:

* People travel abroad for many reasons… (the student has to complete the paragraph)

* Peru´s economy would improve if …. (the student has to complete the paragraph)

PLACING SIGNS

Request students to create a title to a paragraph (that was read or heard).

You can also request them to relate some personal experience and place it suggestive titles.

IDEAS MAP

It consists in applying several questions around the title of the topic. The following questions are suggested:

How to become a better story-teller

Considering difficulties per areas

Ask the student to make a list of all utilitarian items he can related to the areas of work, study, transport, recreation, relaxation, feeding, agriculture, etc. Let him cover those items or problems more promising that he came across with.

Expressing guesses

State a question problem and request students to express as many guesses as possible. For example, why has a manufacturer extended paid holidays for his employees from one to two weeks?

Considering alternatives

Present a common object to the class, such as the lid of a plastic container, and ask them to provide alternative functions that it may serve.

Guessing purposes

Have students guess the purpose of some object from a minimum set of verbal or graphic hints. For example, if the object is a mug, draw in the board an incomplete handle, adding more parts, such as the rest of the handle, until the students guess the correct item

Sharpening the vision

Let the student point out the elements that make up an object. For example, what elements constitute a wall calendar? Wait for the students to point out elements such as: numbers, months, horizontal, vertical, advertisements, sheets, paper texture, hanging device, drawings, poems, footnotes, descriptions, characters names, color, folds, moon phases, important dates, typography, etc. Special attention should be paid to the different attributes in terms of enhancements or innovations

Relating the unconnected

Have the student make connections between ideas or items seemingly unconnected. The connections will serve as starting point to develop ideas to set aside for later, combined function units, and other relationships that suggest a continuous improvement.

Suggesting enhancements

Have the students suggest (orally or graphically) enhancements for a daily-used object.

Making the house bigger

Encourage the students to be recipient to other people’s ideas.  Have them research times when “extravagant” ideas have been very successful.

Strategies to develop creativity as a writer

Walking in someone else’s shoes

This means to try and solve a problem by putting yourself in the position of those with opinions contrary to yours.

Facing a stated problem, request the student to describe it from someone else’s point of view, to imagine how the other person interprets the problem.

Chain of ideas

It is used to produce ideas. For example: you ask the student to make a list of all the things he can remember that are at the same time solid, flexible, and of a color.

Pairing ideas

It refers to the establishing of relationships between pairs of ideas.

Example 1: Make a list of words with the approximate opposed meaning to the word “death”.

Example 2: Place an element, fact, phenomena or action of nature, in front of a value; for the word “peace”, the term “pigeon”.

Placing equal bricks

It consists in expressing phrases containing the same number of letters.

ELASTIC

It allows to develop the student’s spontaneous flexibility. Example: List all uses that you can think of for a common brick.

RUBBER

This strategy contributes to developing adaptation flexibility. Here the student needs to perform some changes (changes to the interpretation of the task, changes of statements or strategies, change of possible solution, etc.).

Example: Give as many titles as possible to the parable of the “Prodigal son”.

BALLOON INFLATING

It allows to expand thinking from a small phrase.

Example: For the following paragraphs, explain the meaning of each one of them: (a) be the fountain, not the drain, (b) To discover is to look at what the whole world has seen and think about what no one has thought.

Making our movies

This strategy is one of my favorites. It consists on requesting each of the participants to remember and relate an experience, event, or daily happening; then they need to give it a striking movie title, and then they need to point out the lesson coming from it.

More Strategies to Develop Creativity

  1. Make the strange, familiar. In all situation with a statement and problem solutions, the main responsibility of the participants is to understand the problem.
  2. Make the familiar, strange. This means to distort, reverse or transpose the everyday ways to see and respond that make the world a safe and familiar place (making things “out of focus”). There are four mechanisms to achieve this objective:
  3. Personal analogy. Faraday “scrutinizing… in the very heart of the electrolyte, trying to make its atoms game visible to his mental eyes” (Tyndall).
  4. Direct analogy. Hadamard points out that “biology, especially, such as Hamite used to note, can be an excellent study even for mathematicians, as hidden analogies can appear, equally useful, between the processes of both types of study subjects “. Albert Einstein observed that “the combination game may be the essential trait of productive thinking” (Reiser). And Alexander Graham Bell said: “It was curious to me that the bones of the human ear were so thick, compared to the delicate and feeble wall that makes them act, and so it occurred to me that if such a delicate wall could move bones relatively thick, why a thicker bigger piece of membrane would not be able to move my piece of steel. And so the telephone was conceived “.

The forced comparison of a scientific observation with that of another field tends to impose a fresh expression to a problem.

  1. Symbolic analogy. Unlike personal analogy, here objective and impersonal images are used to describe the problem. These images, though technically inexact, are aesthetically satisfactory.

Symbolic analogy is a very concise, almost poetic, statement of the implications of a selected key word of the problem analyzed or that is related to the problem.

  1. Fantastic analogy. Ideal, though probably not applicable, solutions are proposed.

Finally, the “game” consisting in making free associations with the meanings of words and “leaving laws without effect” (for example, cancelling gravity), is also suggested as means to stimulate new ideas. In its most basic form, these synectic methods can be applied to stimulate the imagination of students in grade and high school. Even at a very young age, students working individually or in class, can acquire new ideas by examining the similarities between the problem stated and the solutions that other people, animals, insects or plants can suggest metaphorically.  For example, a problem of transportation can be analyzed by having students think how “their things are moved from here to there” by inferior animals; a problem of air or water pollution can be resolved by thinking ideas related to “cleaning things”.

 

CONCEPTUAL NETWORK

It consists in hierarchizing and organizing concepts and ideas of a specific topic. Let’s examine some examples:

Let’s draw a conceptual map of the following paragraph:

“TRULY REMARKABLE PEOPLE: There are two types of people: those who enter a room and say: “Here I am!”, and those who come in and say: “Oh!, there you are!”.

Strategies to develop creativity

Next, we will present a list suggesting techniques for our students to develop creativity:

  1. Ask the student to make a list of all utilitarian objects that he may come in contact with in a 24 hour period. Have him select, for future purposes, those items that can cause friction (or problems, difficulties, etc.) in terms of their function or appearance.
  2. Another strategy can be the following: Ask the student to make a list of all utilitarian items he can related to the areas of work, study, transport, recreation, relaxation, feeding, agriculture, etc. Let him cover those items or problems more promising that he came across with.
  3. State a class problem and search as many alternative solutions as possible. For example, why has a manufacturer extended paid holidays for his employees from one to two weeks?
  4. Present a common object to the class, such as the lid of a plastic container, and ask them to provide alternative functions that it may serve.
  5. Have students guess the purpose of some object from a minimum set of verbal or graphic hints. For example, if the object is a mug, draw in the board an incomplete handle, adding more parts, such as the rest of the handle, until the students guess the correct item.
  6. Let the student redefine or redesign items by examining their characteristics. For a wall calendar, for example (representing the graphic arts), the list of attributes generated by the students may include numbers, months, horizontal, vertical, advertisements, sheets, paper texture, hanging device, drawings, poems, footnotes, descriptions, characters names, color, folds, moon phases, important dates, typography, etc. He needs to pay special attention to the different attributes in terms of enhancements or innovations.
  7. Have the student make connections between ideas or items seemingly unconnected. The connections will serve as starting point to develop ideas to set aside for later, combined function units, and other relationships that suggest continuous improvement.
  8. Have the students suggest (orally or graphically) enhancements for a daily used object.
  9. Encourage the students to be recipient to other people’s ideas. Have them research times when “extravagant” ideas have been very successful.