Here is one of my favorite exercises to shake up my mind. Pick a word, any word. It can be a word you like, or hate, or one you don’t know the meaning of, or one you pick randomly from a dictionary with your finger. Then write about that word – how it makes you feel, why you like or hate it, or write about the sounds of the word, are they soft or sharp or whistly, or anything you feel like writing about that word. Write for 5 to 10 minutes, longhand, and don’t pause while you are writing. (This is a Natalie Goldberg tip that has worked wonders for me.)
Here’s what I wrote when I picked the word “Bewildered.”
Bewildered has the word wild in it, which makes me think of wolves; sneaky crafty wolves streaking across a pristine white snowfield. Their paws crunch on the crust and they stop to howl. Their howls lance into my ears, hurting them and making me want to howl back. So I do, and all my loneliness and pain burst from me and is lost in the winter wind that blows across those sharp black wolf hairs tipped with silver. The wolves swallow my howl in one gulp. When I am bewildered I am wild, free at last from having to make any sense. I can run with wolves and play in the snow in a bright purple snowsuit.
Try it yourself, you might like it. What word will you choose?