Set aside some time this week and choose a ramble you’ll take. Whether half an hour for a walk or half a day for a museum visit, make a date with yourself. Put regular dates for rambling into your weekly or monthly calendar.
- At the library, choose five magazines to study. For each, ask yourself how does the magazine make money (who buys advertising space)? Describe its ideal reader; be specific. List five articles this magazine might publish that would appeal to its readers and advertisers.
- Visit your library and read about an area you want to explore—landscape design, pottery making, better PowerPoint designs.
- Visit the cookbook section in your bookstore or library to explore other cookbooks.
- Pick a recipe and try it.
- If math and science weren’t fun for you in school, play with them now. Try one of the books written by child-actress and math-whiz Danica McKellar, starting with Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math. Or check out the loads of fun books of science experiments too good to be just for kids.
YouTube offers easy access to classical music (though a good digital recording and good speakers improves the experience). Sit and listen. Any rich, interesting music deserves your focus. For starters, here are some suggestions:
- Ride of the Valkyries, Wagner
- Toccato and Fugue in D Minor, J. S. Bach
- Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven
- New World Symphony, Dvorak
- The Four Seasons, Vivaldi
- Canon in D Major, Pachelbel
Many of these you have heard as background music in movies. What do you experience when you are focused only on the music?
- Choose something on your desk or in the room where you are sitting. Study it carefully. Now draw its outline. Don’t look at your paper as you draw; keep your eye on the object and trace its outline without looking back and forth from sketch to object.
- Spend a period of time noticing round things. Do you begin to see things you would have otherwise missed?
- Look for objects that remind you of a letter. For example, the end of a swing set may be shaped like the letter A. Find objects that spell your name. Take photographs of them.
- Identify a persistent, nagging problem at home or work or in your community or other organization. Why does it bother you? Put yourself in the position of anyone who may be causing this inconvenience or bother. What is his perspective? What solutions could you propose for fixing it? Don’t rely only on your first impressions or ideas; remember, the best ideas come later, after the first rush of ordinary answers.
- Design your own personal logo or icon. Businesses design combinations of pictures, words, and colors to convey something about who they are and what they do. What would your logo look like? What small graphic depiction could explain who or what you are? Think first about the elements, then combine them.
- Something in your house frustrates, irritates, or angers you. What is it? Your hall closet? The messy junk drawer in the kitchen? How to manage all the paper that comes into your house? How to divide up the chores equitably? Figure out a way to fix it. If it involves others, how will you sell them on the idea?
- Try your hand at designing a toy, a calendar, a greeting card, a new alphabet, a new desk.
- A travel company features a garden gnome in its television ads, taking vacations and finding itself in spots that would be difficult or humorous for a garden gnome. Pick an object (a favorite doll or stuffed animal, a flashlight, your shoes, or whatever else strikes your fancy) and take it to work with you or take it rambling on a Saturday outing. Take photographs of it. Where else could it travel? What kind of adventures would it have?
- What do you know about your own family stories? Ask a family member to tell you some.