Saturday, April 08, 2006

Personal Universe Deck

Create your own deck of personalized association cards to spark your writing:

On a piece of paper write as many words as you can.

Sort the words into categories:
  1. 16 words of each of the 5 senses (80 words in all). Words that evoke a sense to you. They can be poetic like "birdsong" for hearing, "dessicated" for touch.
  2. 10 words of motion. Not necessarily verbs! Just words that to you bring feelings of motion, like wind, race car.
  3. 3 abstractions. Love, freedom, truth ...
  4. 7 anything else.
All the words must have:
  • significance to you
  • be specific (eg, robin is better than bird.)
  • sound good to you. (Did I mention to you enough? ;-))
  • No adverbs. (Perhaps to encourage strong verbs. But why allow adjectives? Not sure.)
  • No plurals.
Write your favorites on index cards (as suggested in the exercise) or on popsicle sticks (which I've done for other similar prompts) or business size cards (as suggested by someone else). Whatever feels right to you.

Draw words randomly and use them as a story prompt or to create the skeleton of a poem or to spark to a piece that you're stuck on.

Take out old words and add new words occasionally. You can even recreate the whole deck from scratch every once in a while.

From an exercise by Linnea Johnson in The Practice of Poetry: writing excercises from poets who teach, edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell.
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