This is the twentieth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here.
A list is a powerful tool. I have my students make lists before they write essays. The physical action of jotting down words helps them get “unstuck” after staring at an essay prompt and a white page. I write lists to quiet my mind; if it’s written on paper, I don’t need to waste mental energy trying to remember what I need to do. Lists can also be playful. McSweeneys, a daily humor site, publishes humorous lists. Lists can satisfy our need to collect and consume beautiful and interesting things. Many writers make lists of interesting, cool-sounding, beautiful-to-look-at, rhyming words. Making a list of words not only produces resources for later projects but also serves as a physical/mental activity that gets the writing process going. This week’s exercise is quite simple: you will make a list!
- Grab a book off your bookshelf- the more esoteric, the better.
- Leaf through it and jot down words that stand out to you. Choose words that are funny, strange, cool-sounding, rare, and/or attractive. Go quickly; don’t stress over your choices.
- After you fill a page or two with these words, circle a few that seem like treasures.
- Write one at the top of a blank page. Freewrite about it. What is it? What does it mean? What does it smell like? Where can you find it? What can you use it to describe? What type of person would say it?
How did you do? Did it feel playful? Did you enjoy the feeling of gathering, a similar satisfaction to consuming treasures, as in shopping or eating? Does your freewrite have a seed for a story or a poem?
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