Death is like aspirin. Flex your creative muscles with Remote Association

It is a ‘feature’ of western society that we tend to value analytical thinking more highly than creative thinking. Thus, subjects like maths and science and considered more ‘proper’ subjects than things like art and drama. Children are told to get practical qualifications, because everybody knows, artists can’t make a living.

The sad effect of this is that while our analytical processes get a good work out, our creative capabilities are often neglected, but creative skills can be learned and developed just as much as logical ones.

The more you work your creative muscles, the stronger they will become and the more easily stunning metaphors and incisive descriptions will ‘spring to mind’.

Try this exercise to give your creative brain a bit of a stretch:

  1. Make a list of concrete nouns. Nouns are things, words that you can generally put ‘a’ or ‘the’ in front of, and concrete nouns are visible, solid things that you can usually touch. Some example of concrete nouns are:
  2. •    Dog
    •    Fire
    •    Garden
    •    Airplane
    •    Handkerchief
    •    Mug
    •    Computer
    •    Aubergine
    •    Aspirin
    •    Keys

    Think of as many as you can, but at least 20.

    2.    Make a list of abstract nouns. So, these are still ‘things’ but ones that you can’t see or touch.
    •    Hunger
    •    Wealth
    •    Life
    •    Friendship
    •    Desire
    •    Intelligence
    •    Instructions
    •    Excitement
    •    Death
    •    Joy

    3.    Now randomly pick two of them (ask someone else to pick two numbers between 1 – however many you have or cut them up and pick them out of a hat) and put them together, then write a paragraph explaining.

For example:

Life is like computers. Completely unfathomable, with so much going on under the surface you have no hope of ever understanding the complexity. Sometimes life does what you want, but sometimes it just refuses, for no apparent reason at all. Life can be entertaining and informative, but it can also make us want to tear our hair out.


Death is like aspirin. It’s tucked away out of sight and easy to ignore. But when our health is threatened it comes to the fore, fizzing in our brains, dissolving into an invisible, pervasive mist. We have no choice but to swallow it.

Think you can do better? Post your remote associations in the comments!

Credit to The Five Minute Writer by Margaret Geraghty for the inspiration for this post – if you liked it, you should buy her book.

If you enjoyed this post, then you should probably check out the Novel Factory