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Journaling for Creativity.

Journaling word game; The simple complexity of oxymorons

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 Simple Complexity of Oxymorons.


Journaling for Creativity: Journaling word game: The simple complexity of oxymoronsThe game

A very simple word game that can be played either as a collector or as a creator of oxymorons.

The creator part is ideal for those idle moments during the day.

The game is quite simply just looking around you and recognising oxymorons where they are used and  also trying your hand at constructing your own.


About oxymorons

Those who already know what an oxymoron is can skip to the 'How to play' section.

"An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side."

Source: Merriam-Webster dictionary

Or, in other words, an oxymoron is where two apparently conflicting, or opposing, terms produce a significance when they are combined. The ones most often cited as demonstrations are "pretty ugly" or "cruel kindness". There are many, many others in everyday common use.


How to play

You may wish to maintain a dedicated page in the back of your journal for this game, so that you can easily add to as you discover new examples.

For the collector part, you need to tune into the oxymorons being used around you and when you find them just add them to your journal. As you spend time looking out for them, you will discover that your mind becomes attuned to them, and their variations, which eventually makes recognising them far simpler.

Here are a few to get you going;

  • Heavy thoughts
  • Acting naturally
  • Old news
  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Constant variable
  • Exact estimate
  • Silent sound
  • Organised chaos


For the creator part. Once you have 'tuned' your mind to the possibilities of oxymorons, and where they are used, you can then begin to form your own and add them to your growing list.

If you initially find them difficult to generate, start off by reading through your existing list. This will kick-start your mind into activating neural pathways that respond the most to the paradox of oxymorons. This works better if you read them aloud to yourself.


The purpose of the game

Language, and its formation, is the logical-mind’s domain, whilst making sense of the paradoxes that are represented by oxymorons is our creative-mind’s speciality. In order to form these linguistic trinkets, we need to employ both parts of our minds, and in doing so, causes activity to cross the bridge (the corpus callosum) between our logical and creative minds. The increased activity across this bridge strengthens it further and develops our ability to enable cooperation between both parts of our mind.

There is a further purpose, and that is simply to have fun with words, to enjoy yourself crafting interesting linguistic gems, and maybe one day you will find your list of them or your ability to generate them, useful for a project.



Oxymorons have a certain charm, a certain pleasure when read, making them enjoyable to read as well as create. Do you have any neat ones that you would like to share? If you do, please leave them for everyone in the comments area below.

Photo credit: Oxymoron, by Wes Peck.

"Journaling word game; The simple complexity of oxymorons" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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