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Journaling for Creativity.

Journal word games: The power of three


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.

Introduction Contents Techniques About Method Games for Creative Development The Power of Three


The game

journaling for Creativity: Word games: The power of Three This week’s game is both a word game and an awareness exercise. It revolves around a natural rhythm within a sentence that is pleasurable to the human mind. This rhythm, when practiced and recognised, is a useful tool for adding power and punch to your written prose.


About the power of three

The power of three is simply three words or sounds that punctuate a sentence or a phrase. It is such an ubiquitous part of the English language that most people are rarely aware of it being used around them, or even of them using it to express themselves forcefully when they need to. It is why when you say,

One, two, three.

It feels complete and it is why when you say,

One, two, three, four.

That it feels odd and somehow incomplete.

The power of three is used constantly all around you; advertising companies earn money from it, politicians abuse it, corporations exploit it. Following are a few well known examples;

Stop it now!

Every little helps

Blood, sweat and tears

Not then, not now, not ever!

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.


Even names

Rumpelstiltskin (rumplestiltskin)

Red Riding Hood


How to play

Look around you for memorable uses of the power of three. Make a note in your journal of the best or funniest use of it that you find. Look to see where else this natural rhythm is used, for example jokes, “A blonde, a brunet and a red head were…” or proverbs “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” If any strike you as particularly powerful, spend some time pondering as to why they work so much better than the rest and journal your thoughts.

Once you have caught the “feel” of the power of three, practice constructing some sentences or phrases that have the “one, and two, and three” rhythm. Look around you and see if you can describe things or events by incorporating the power of three.


The purpose of the game

This game is intended to raise the player’s awareness of a natural rhythm of language and where this rhythm is employed by others to influence the player.

By becoming aware of the importance of the power of three and by practicing it themselves the game provides the player a means of improving their ability to add natural flow or strong rhythmic punctuation to their work.



Are there any examples that you can immediately think of, maybe a famous one from childhood? Do you remember the Heinz advertising campaign; “Beanz Meanz Heinz!” If you can, then why not leave your favourite in the comments for everyone else to enjoy.

Photo credit: 3, by Carbon Arc.

"Journal word games: The power of three" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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