This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.
This is a word game intended to help you get started with your journaling or writing, in those moments when you are blocked or your mind is blank, and the empty page stubbornly remains empty.
It is a word game and a mental exercise that returns to you the freedom to write by ironically removing your freedom to choose.
How to play
Look around you and select five words that you find interesting. These can be any noun, verb, adjective etc. that, for whatever reason, seem to have more value for you. It is important that these five words seem to have some significance or somehow ‘speak to you’, so do not just pick five random words.
Write these words in your creative journal.
Then select one word from the five, and write about it for ten minutes. Do not try to over-think the selection or what to write, just go with your feelings. Use a timer to tell you when the ten minutes are up, and write non-stop until the alarm sounds. Using a timer stops you from being distracted by thoughts about if the ten minutes is finished or how much longer is there to go.
If you are still blank then write about being blank, and how your word is not helping. For example, “I don’t know why I am writing about [WORD]. I don’t know why [WORD] appeared more important….”. You will find that after a short period of “I don’t…”, you will start to write comparative statements such as “It’s not as if…”, and these will eventually turn to more rounded sentences as your ranting at the page brings forth more of your creative-mind’s associations.
It is also important to write quickly and to keep going, do not stop to make corrections. Tell your inner editor that this is a game; any messes and mistakes are part of the game, that it is the action of doing in the game that is important, not the perfection of the prose.
"The rule… keeping your hand moving, not stopping, actually is a way to physically break through your mental resistances…"
Natalie Goldberg, “Writing Down the Bones”
If, after ten minutes of writing about your word, your journaling engine has not started, then start the game again with a different set of five words.
The purpose of the game
The purpose of the game is as stated above, to simply fire up your writing engine at those moments when your mind is not complying with your desire to write. The game can be played at the start of hesitant journaling sessions or at the start of hesitant writing sessions.
The game works by giving you a simple task of finding five items (words) that have a significance to both your logical-mind and your creative-mind, (That’s why your words have to ‘speak’ to you.) Then the game focuses your logical-mind onto one item, the selected word. The focusing process guides your logical-mind to discard the other mental distractions that have been cluttering the ability to think. Once you start to write on such a narrow focus, assistance from the creative-mind is required to provide associations for the word; in effect, starting the mutual mental process required for writing.
This game is primarily based on the technique of freewriting as made popular by Peter Elbow in his book, Writing without Teachers. It has been further refined with the focused freewriting techniques of Natalie Goldberg from her book, Writing Down the Bones. I will be covering both of these techniques in depth, in later posts.
I would love to hear how this game works for you. Please do let us know of your experiences with it in the comments area below.
If you would like to know more about freewriting and focused freewriting, feel free to contact me with your questions (the e-mail address is on the contact page).
Photo credit: …12345…, by Nicolas Nova.
"Word games: Find five words" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.