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.
A simple little word game that you can make as big or as small as you like. You may fit it into idle moments or set time aside to work at it. The game involves seeing how many different ways, and from how many different perspectives you can write the same sentence, phrase or event.
How to play
Decide on a starting sentence, phrase or event that you are going to work with. This might be something to make up, observe around you or be from your current project. The sentence does not want to be too long, but needs enough complexity to make for easy modification.
Let us play with the following simple event;
“A car coming around a bend too fast.”
Just play with the sentence; what type of car, how fast is too fast, when, who is involved, who is watching and from where, the weather, the road… Every possible variant can be included or discarded as you repeatedly write and rewrite the sentence.
It doesn’t matter if you include adverbs or klutzy forms. This is a fun game where you are only trying to find lots of different ways of saying the same thing. It’s not for print so allow yourself to make errors.
For example, our speeding car could produce;
“The car suddenly appeared on the bend, moving far too fast, barely under control.”
“Instantly the car was upon us. The driver fighting the wheel and the tyres fighting the road.”
“Startled by the noise, people leapt back as a car screeched around the bend only a hairs breadth from the pavement.”
“Ted was gone, crushed under the wheels. Little Billy was safe, snatched from the car’s path, but only just. The car careened away, a cloud of teddy bear stuffing swirling in its wake.”
“Sunlight flashed of chrome and glass; half steering, half sliding she made the bend. Her tail wagging aggressively as the driver fought for balance between power and control.“
… and so on.
Don’t be afraid to cheat, you are allowed to combine part of one sentence with part of another, or parts of others. Just have fun and see how many different ways there are for you to say the same thing.
“My Journal, however is not only a compendium of observations, collected for the sake of record keeping, but also a writer's sketchbook, a place to try out ideas.”
Robin Hemley, from "Writers and Their Notebooks",
edited by Diana M. Raab
The purpose of the game
The game requires the logical-mind and the creative-mind to work together, constantly changing and reformulating the sentence being worked on. Because each reformulation is so short and errors are allowed, the language centre in the logical-mind is not as active as when dealing with longer passages, allowing the creative-mind more presence. In this way the game assists the writer with getting in tune with his/her creativity.
It also provides proof to the writer, from their own personal experience that, for any single situation there is a multitude of diverse ways in which the situation may be portrayed, as well as furnishing the skills needed to reformulate any obstructive sentence when necessary.
Try playing the game now. Take ten minutes to add more examples for our speeding car or event of your own, then let us know in the comments how you got on.
Photo credit: Speeding car in the high street, by Steve Slater.
"Journaling words game: Doing your lines" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.