1. Make lists. Shopping lists, lists of your favorite whatevers, lists of your clothes, lists of all the pets you’ve ever had, etc.
2. Make a time-line. Might be historical, geological, personal, tribal. Stick paper together to make the time-line really long. Maybe run a string around the room and hang events off them in order. Write a year on each card and then write what happened on that card then file the cards in order.
3. Draw a map. Needn’t be a map of anything real. Could be a map of the inside of your brain. Could be a map of your family. I save maps, maps of dogs, maps of parts of the country that drink Pepsi, Coca-Cola, or RC. Etc.
4. Diagram. Might be like a map or might be like a Venn diagram: a circle with one quality overlapping a circle with another quality and inside the overlap all items have to have both qualities. Or a Johari diagram: four sections of a rectangle: one quadrant shows what you know about yourself and everyone else knows as well, one shows what you know but no one else knows, one shows what everyone else knows but you don’t, and one shows what no one, not even you, knows about you. Could make it like a sentence diagram: you, the noun — what you do, the verb. Modifiers hanging from both.
5. Draw portraits.If you can’t draw and have access to old magazines, cut out “portraits” of people in your life and tell about them. You might want to draw hats or mustaches or earrings onto them. Or you might draw or cut out portraits of “yourself” in various aspects.
6. Write a letter. Could be real. Could be phony or imaginary. Write a letter to Abraham Lincoln or the moon or your cat or the bush in the yard. Or the Bush in office. Might be to yourself in ten years and you might give it to someone trustworthy who will mail it to you in ten years.
7. Write down sensory information: use as many senses as you can. Decide on a location and time from the past and list the sensations. Pretend you are a dolphin or an owl or a seaweed and write down what you think they can sense.
8. Let your left hand talk to your right hand. Actually use those hands to write, even if it looks awful when it’s not your usual hand. Theoretically different sides of your brain will be engaged by different hands. If you were really in a mood for extremes, you might try writing with your toes, maybe a dialogue from feet to hands.
9. Indulge in time travel. Imagine yourself in a different time and place. Maybe list a lot of possibilities first and then pick the most unlikely one — that’s often the most fruitful.
10. Balancing the ledger. Assign values to good or bad things, and add up the two columns. Or you could do it with aspects of a job or prospects of some enterprise. You could do this as a graph, either a pie chart or with lines. You could even do the kind of graph where you have four quadrants to work with and assign four dimensions: smart/dumb, attractive/repellant. Write your qualities onto the chart.
11. Re-framing. Take a situation or assumption and try to look at it from an entirely new point of view. Take a bad thing and make it into a good thing or go the other way. Pretend you’re someone else and look at it from their point of view.
12. Guided fantasy. You can buy these in workbooks or someone might help you by making up an adventure: you’re walking on a path, something is in the way — what is it? Like that.
13. Diary/journal/daybook. At the same time every day over a long period of time write down what happened, or the weather, or what letters you mailed, or what book you’re reading, quotes you like, and so on. Once a month or a week, look back over the material and write some kind of summary, response, or comment.
14. Old photos. Don’t have to be from your family. Write what you think the person is thinking, what they will do next, why they are wearing those clothes, what their favorite food might be, etc.
15. Stepping stones/nodes/turning points. Make a list of the intense times in your life since you were born. Times you moved, when you started or changed schools, jobs, marriages, births, losses, when you moved, and so on. Just note them. Then go back and write what happened in between.