This is the thirteenth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here.
US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera does an activity with children where they stand in a line and one-by-one write down words they hear around them. By the end, they have produced a group poem (Isokawa). Let’s do something equally simple for this week’s exercise.
- Take yourself to a public place – a coffee shop, a doctor’s waiting room, a store, a shared office, etc.
- Spend five minutes jotting down words you hear. Don’t bother transcribing whole sentences; this is not a dictation exercise. Just make a long list or a cluster of words you overhear.
- After five minutes is up, see what you have. You can do this next step in two ways. Either circle words which are thematically similar to ensure your piece will be cohesive, or circle words that simply stand out as interesting or fun, both in meaning and sound.
- It’s a giant step to go from a list of words to a poem, especially if like 99.8% of the population, you don’t think of yourself as a poet. But I do encourage you for the next step to “write your heart out” for five minutes, using the circled words as jumping off points or links. You can write a poem by thinking about sparseness and linebreaks, or you can write prose such as the beginning of a short story (focus on setting and atmosphere).
How did you do? If you tried a poem, is your piece hodge-podge and goofy like a MadLib or does it have the potential to be a cohesive piece? If you tried prose, were you able to set the scene? Most importantly, did you have fun?
5. To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment boxes below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!
Isokawa, Dana. “Hayden Leads America’s Library.” Poets & Writers, Jan/Feb 2017, pp.