Metaphors provide a rich landscape of words and images to describe things. When you use metaphors to describe yourself, you are looking at who you are through a different lens. It's a creative way to expand on your knowledge and understanding of who you are as a person and how you see yourself. When I work with clients who love to journal or write I often encourage this writing prompt. It's a wonderful practice in creative expression and self awareness.
If you’ve never done this type of writing exercise, no worries— I will walk you through it.
1. Look at the following categories. Write down any that spark your interest or curiosity.
types of tea
the four elements
types of trees
elements on the periodic table
cards in a deck
rooms in a house
bodies of water
types of candy
types of cereal
If you think of other categories, add them to your list.
2. Next, go through the categories and reflect on what you would be if you were in that category.
If you were a type of weather phenomena what would you be?
a sunny day? a rainy day? a tornado? a rainbow? a sundog? an ice storm? a cloud? etc…
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
Think about whether you’d be an animal that spends most of its time on land, water, or in the air. Is it living in the wild or in captivity? Is the animal considered to have certain characteristics that you can relate to such as being proud, courageous, silly, mischievous, or unpredictable?
How do people tend to respond to this animal?
What are the animal’s survival skills, i.e. does it burrow underground? Is it a skilled fighter? Can it hide itself with camouflage? Is it part of a protective pack?
Allow your imagination to play around with different metaphors. If you get stuck, move on to another category.
See if you can come up with at least 5 metaphors.
When you get to the end of Step 2 your list might look something like this:
Toy: Yo Yo
Weather phenomena: Sandstorm
Card in a deck: The Hermit (from a tarot deck)
Body of Water: A puddle
3. Expand on your answers as much as you can. Dive into each metaphor and see what you discover about yourself as this person, place, or thing you’ve chosen. Some of these might be concise and other might be more detailed. Either way is fine.
I am a tangled string on a yo yo.
I am an inchworm, slowly (but surely) reaching a destination.
I am a sandstorm, blinding everyone in my path.
I am The Hermit, upside down, seated next to the Queen of Swords.
I am a mud puddle — I appear from a deluge of rain and then I disappear.
Last, go through your answers and see what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. Maybe 3 of your chosen metaphors actually fit the best. Maybe you've come up with 10. It’s all good.
You can leave them as a list of metaphors or you can incorporate them into a different writing piece altogether.
***Note: This is the first writing prompt that will be used in Stories, Words, and Alchemy: A Weekly Group for Writers Exploring Life’s Stories (February 2017) at Indigo North Counseling, LLC in Biddeford, ME. ***
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