What Can You Do With a Paper Clip?

In schools, we’re taught convergent thinking. Basically, that means that each problem has only one correct answer. For instance, 2+2=4. This is emphasized with multiple-choice tests that have only one correct answer: A, B, C or D. Needless to say, that doesn’t encourage creativity.

Divergent thinking is exactly the opposite. It’s based on the idea that there are an infinite number of possibilities. This type of thinking improves problem-solving, creativity and originality. It can improve your writing and it can be beneficial at work or in school, by allowing you to look at something from a different angle.

For this exercise, open up a new word document or pull out a blank sheet of paper. Set an alarm for three minutes. This site has a good one that I use because it also doubles as stopwatch.

If you have a paperclip nearby, pull it out. This works best when you have something tactile to twist and turn. If you don’t have one, look at the picture to the above and try to visualize it.

Hit start on the alarm and immediately begin writing down or typing all of the things that you can think of do with a paper clip. Stop writing IMMEDIATELY when the alarm goes off. Give yourself a 60-second break.

Reset the 1-minute alarm and continue with your list of all the things you can do with a paper clip. Don’t limit yourself.

The idea is that this exercise will get you to think differently and more creatively. Did you feel like your ideas were better the second time around? Use this exercise to jump start your writing time today (or tomorrow). And please, share some of your favorite ideas with us!

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  1. I have an 8-yr.-old granddtr. who amazes me w/ the things she does w/ paper clips. She has a good imagination.Perhaps she will become a writer.

  2. I didn’t know there were so many things you can do with a paperclip. Like pick a lock and reset your thermostat…great exercise!

  3. Robin says:

    Delores – It doesn’t surprise me that your granddaughter is so creative. It’s not until we get older and the idea that there’s only one thing to do with a paper clip that we use that creativity. Hopefully, you’ll be able to encourage her to keep that creativity and continue to build her imagination.

  4. Robin says:

    P.T – Ooh! I love the lock-picking Idea. That’s a great one!

  5. How fun! I need to try this. Here I go: cherries, shoes, purses, strawberries, tulips, lips, blood, cardinals, IU, jawbreakers, jelly, Christmas ornaments, pain, fire, sun setting, tablecloths, clothing, gobstoppers, raspberries, geraniums, flag


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