Guide to Creative Thinking

Resources, Tools, Information, and more.

Guide To Creative Thinking

E. L. Doctrow says, "Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you make the whole trip that way." Many times the headlights of creativity just don't illuminate far enough into the darkness. What you need are some creative, imaginative ideas that will prompt you to continue your thinking, and hopefully, your writing. Dr. John's Eazy-Peazy Guide to Creative Thinking and these "Creative Engines" can help.


Communication is often blocked by dead ends in creative thinking. Created originally as Dr. John's Eazy-Peazy Resource: Creative Engines this resource was included in 101 Best Websites for Secondary Teachers (James Lerman. International Society for Technology in Education, 2005), was featured in The Help Desk (vol. 1, no. 6, 21 June 2002), an online newsletter supporting Kentucky education, and was selected by Encyclopedia Britannica as one of its "100 Best Websites for Teachers." Although no longer available, The United Kingdom's Good Web Guide called Dr. John "perhaps the internet's most helpful lecturer."

Essay Engine

Five-paragraph essays (introduction, three developmental paragraphs, conclusion) can provide good models for your writing. This essay engine creates essays from random words each time the page is reloaded. See how unrelated ideas can be creatively combined to produce interesting writing.

Buzzword Engine

Buzzwords are generally jargonistic, known only to a few of your readers, and best avoided. However, at the right time, in the right place, the right buzzword can be effective. This Buzzword Engine takes buzzwords you define and uses them in sentences. Developing writers can use it to learn more about the difference between clear and confusing writing.

Enter your buzzword(s) and click the "Buzz Button"

Fortune Cookie Engine

Prognostications about the future can be interesting. They can make us think, dream, plan, and react in many different ways. This fortune cookie engine produces fortunes. You may find some interesting ideas here.


Name Engine

Need names for the characters you are writing about? This Names Engine produces them. Select "Male" or "Female" depending on the desired gender. Then click the "Generate Name" button. First and last names will appear in the labeled windows below. New names are generated with each click. Experiment until you find a name you like.


Profundity Engine

At the right time, in the right place—a speech, interview, cocktail party, or sound bite—profundity can be impressive. Mostly because your audience won't admit that they don't understand what you are talking about. Or that that they think you don't either. Different than quips, profundity rarely offers true insight into human nature. Instead, profundity focuses on the razzle-dazzle. See for yourself. Use this Profundity Engine to generate different profound statements. Perhaps with some editing, one will work in your writing. Developing writers can use it to learn more about the difference between clear and confusing writing.


Prompt Engine

Unusual thoughts and ideas can often whack our creativity on the side of the head. The ordinary becomes strange. And the strange is more interesting than the ordinary. Use this prompt engine to find an idea you would like to write about.


Quip Engine

Quips are at the other end of the spectrum from profundity. Rather than to impress, they are meant to provide true insight into human nature. At the right time, in the right place, quips can communicate ideas very effectively. Use this Quip Engine to generate one you like. Perhaps with some editing, it will work in your writing.

Generate a quip with the button below

Quote Engine

People say interesting things. Their words prompt thought, response, and reaction. We wish our words would do the same. This quote engine produces interesting quotations. Use your own thoughts and experiences to expand on the original idea.


Vocabulary Engine

Like Mark Twain says, the difference between a word and the right word is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. These links connect to sites that can help build your word power. Writers of all levels can use them to put some lightning in their writing.

Each daily entry follows a weekly theme and provides etymology, usage, and definition. Audio files demonstrate pronunciation.

The Mavens' Word of the Day
Well-written, well-researched entertaining as well as informative answers to questions about word origins. Includes a section on words added to our vocabulary in the last 60 years. Sponsored by Random House Dictionary.

Word of the Day
Entries are posted with spelling, pronunciation, and usage examples and some etymological background. Access to an online dictionary, thesaurus, translators, foreign dictionaries, word games, and puzzles is available.

Language Info Zone
Features the Merriam Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus online, both fully searchable. Also features word for the day (with pronunciation, etymology, etc, and searchable archives), Word for the Wise (the web version of the popular radio program), Word Game of the Day, Vocabulary Builder, and a word puzzle.

Jargon Scout
Features Internet-generated terminology as "Jargon Inventions," "Jargonated Job Titles," and "Jargon du Jour."

Travlang's Word of the Day
Features international vocabulary in the word-of-the-day section. Also features translating dictionaries. Subscribe to receive a foreign word a day in up to 70 languages.