How To Make A Metaphor (Exercise)


3 min read   |   Monday May 31, 2021

How to make a metaphor
If you’re uncertain how to make the leap from concept to metaphor, follow the steps below.

1. Identify your concept, idea or issue
Your concept will generally be broader and less “sexy.”

Here are a few examples:
Increased productivity
Team coordination
Learning how to write songs

2. Identify ways to represent your concept with more sensory language
As an example, I’m going to use “learning how to write songs” as the concept to be converted into a metaphor.

3. Make your metaphor
The best way to explore metaphors for a given concept is to ask yourself the question, “what is an example of” and then plug in your concept.

So, in this instance, you would ask yourself, “what is an example of learning how to write songs?” Another way to put this is to think to yourself “what is (put concept here) like?” So, what is learning how to write songs like?

If you can answer that question with “(your concept) is like (your chosen metaphor)” and it feels good, you’ve got a solid metaphor. In this case, I’ve put several examples of what learning how to write songs is like below.

Metaphors for “learning how to write songs”
1. Learning how to write songs is like building a house
2. Learning how to write songs is like reciting a magic spell
3. Learning how to write songs is like learning how to fly

Now you try. Write out three MORE metaphors for “learning how to write songs.”
1. Learning how to write songs is like ___
2. Learning how to write songs is like ___
3. Learning how to write songs is like ___

4. Write out – as part of a brainstorming session – any words, phrases, visuals that come to mind once you’ve chosen your metaphor.

I’d highly recommend taking the time to write out anything that comes to mind when you think about your chosen metaphor. Brainstorming in this fashion is a great way to support your newfound approach to representing your original concept in metaphor form. The more related sensory words, phrases or ideas you can gather, the easier it will be to immerse yourself in this alternate way of thinking about your original idea.

Brainstorming Example:
Since I’ve decided to use “learning how to fly” as my metaphor, I’ve put down some words, phrases and ideas below that relate to flying.

• jumping
• air
• wind
• wings
• trees
• climbing
• trust
• jumping
• flying is exhilarating
• flying feels good

The moment you decide to represent your concept as a metaphor, you’ve begun the transformation from simply identifying it to exploring its depth and breadth in a creative way. Your metaphor can be serious or funny but the key is that you’re choosing a metaphor that will allow you to look at your chosen concept in a new light with more emotion-rich language and imagery. Also, know that there are almost certainly dozens if not hundreds of metaphors for any given concept.

Good luck!

-Cliff

Find out more about Cliff’s creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

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