One of the most difficult writing assignments I have ever had was to describe famous artwork for blind children. I remember saying to the editor, "This assignment's not for me. I'm not the kind of person who truly appreciates fine art."
The editor's reply was, "You're just what we need. I want you to describe what you see, not in terms of art, but in terms of what is relative to someone who is blind."
I took the assignment. Normally I finish way ahead of deadlines, but not this time. I had to really think about things through my senses. Blind people feel. They hear. They smell. They just don't see...obviously.
I was able to describe most of the art by relying on my sense of touch. For example, it was easy to describe an abstract sculpture by saying that part of it was shaped like a large spoon. Since eveyone has held a spoon and knows how it feels, I was able to paint a sensory picture. In the end, I became a better writer with a heightened awerenss of how things really "looked."
If you're a writer and you want an exercise that will help you paint pictures with your words, describe your stove for us. Trust me, it won't be easy, but it will help you with future descriptive writing. If you'd like to describe something else, that's fine, but please share!
You poets who have been writing with me should have a great time with this exercise. I would love to know how you would describe a hair brush.
Teachers, have your students describe something in your classroom. They can do it orally or on paper. You can actually turn this into a quick game.
Parents, you can do the same thing with your children by using objects in your house.
There's no better way to cultivate creativity than by thinking outside the box. This exercise is truly way out. Have fun!