Divergent Thinking Exercise: What Do You See?

For this divergent thinking exercise, I want to challenge you to look around your office, your home, your classroom, a coworker’s desk or a restaurant and select three different objects and write their fake history. It could be an old object or a new object – an antique or an item that came into your position somehow. Tell its story: what it is, who made it, why they made it, how many of them exist and how it got to be in that location. How valuable is it? Does it have a sordid history? Keep it to under a paragraph but tell it’s story.

I have a friend who has this beautifully ornate antique cross hanging on her wall that she got at a garage sale (I know because I saw it first, but she got their first). I was bored on the way home and started to imagine how it got there and came up with a story about it being created as a set of four during the Middle Ages and how it was at the site of major fires, etc., during history and how it ended up being the only one. And then, how she purchased it for only $1 because no one knew its true value.

What kind of things can you come up with?

This exercise should stretch you mind and get you ready to work on something in a creative way. Although this isn’t designed to have you work it into your novel, article or short story, you could do that.

In any case, it should be a starting point. Have fun!


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  1. How fun! I did this one time, but not on purpose. I envisioned something different than its intended purpose.

    I was a realtor at the time and I was showing someone a home. The property had a bank barn on the side of the house. The customer asked me what a bank barn was.

    Here’s what I said, “I’m not sure, but I can picture in the olden days, before there were cars, that people drove their horse and carriages through here (I pointed) and withdrew their money. This is the place they did business.”

    The customer believed me because I described it so well. Later that day, I found out it was called a barn because it was built into the side of a slope. Half of the building was underground and half was above. I laughed and laughed, but what could I say? I’m a writer. I have a vivid imagination!

    • Robin says:

      That’s a fabulous response! I love it. Who knew there was even such a thing as a bank barn?

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