This is a 'game' or experiment where the researcher presents a series of words to individual respondents. For each word, participants are instructed to respond with the first word (i.e., associate) that comes to mind. The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud believed that such responses provided clues to people's personalities (free association). Cognitive psychologists, however, use this procedure to investigate how semantic information is stored in memory.
As you can see, I started with the word 'start', as I usually do and simply asked the community to write the first thing that came to mind, based on the response of the previous person. I checked the post several times during the day and yes, I also participated to keep the flow going. Eighteen minutes went by and no one responded. I thought the group hated the idea! Then...a deluge of responses! We went from 'start' to 'stop' to 'hammer-time' to 'run' and then after about 15 creatives taking turns, we were at 'teacup' and 'snoop'...'pee'!
But I argue that there should be another way to conduct and of course interpret this test. Why not base the test on physical properties? or anything else that comes to mind? Let's unfold the results as a creative process ...and in the most literal sense?! Perhaps it will overtly inform us about other parts of ourselves - our habits and in turn solutions to our everyday problems with 'start'.
Turn it Around
In exploring the concept, what else makes you feel like the energy of this famous song? Name it. What else brings you joy like that? Do it! Maybe it will help you (cough..I mean me) focus my decision making. Maybe the dance will act as a trigger. Like running, dance helps to clear your head, allow a point of concentration. Let's try simply playing 10 seconds as a work alarm/break alarm to focus our attention. Perhaps we will avoid waffling back and forth about starting a project, an idea, a task.
Does dancing stress you out? Turn it around and break it down. (That was not supposed to rhyme but it sounded pretty good for a move.) If you feel anxiety around it, it could be fear, worry, judgement and definitively vulnerability knocking at your door. Soooo....one way to get through it is to break it down into micro steps. If it's judgement, for example, while showing your work, maybe a micro-step is simply opening up the website you want to post to. Leave the rest for another day. Maybe the next day you prepare one photo to post. Maybe the following day you research simply one hashtag to associate it with. The next day, do one part of your profile. You get the idea - finally post it. It won't be that overwhelming the next time. Eventually it will be hours, not days that separate each micro task right? That's what I mean by micro-steps - you take on a challenge bit by bit for the start of your 'start.' Eventually you will get there!
What if we flipped or substituted the word 'start' with a word or phrase to make you laugh or smile like 'run' or 'Hammer Time? I could see it now. "Are you guys ready to get started on your 6 month goals?" (cue music) Let's "Hammer Time"! This energetic word encourages more positive feelings around the word "start" acts as a prompt to thrust us into a project, counter negative portrayals and perceptions of 'stop', its most common associated coupling.
What word prompt would you use? Communication agencies use focus groups to find the right "winning word" to provoke certain actions. I might begin replacing 'start' with something like Pika Pikachu. Don't worry if you don't know this fictional creature, its ok. It's....it's just me. But any one of these words (from the word association game) could be used instead of 'start'.
"Knight": Imagine yourself as one.
"Teacup": Have a cup of one.
"Guarded": Use the Flip it method to find another more suitable word to associate with 'start.'
"Rock on": Enough said!
Word usage with other posts in the series
Were there any similarities in word usage with the other artists I interviewed? Not one so far. As you can see from Divinia Fleury, ceramist or from painter Clare Thackway, for example, there is no overlap. They say that words evoke emotions, memories, and thoughts we often tend to ignore. Which words in the game led to memories or feelings for you?
What an interesting way to unravel the subconscious right? What did you get from this game, besides for the fact that it was fun and a bit of a silly way to past an afternoon during confinement?
What is the first word that comes to your mind when you think of the word 'start'? What can you deduct from it about creating a better start (or restart) for your project this year?