Oh goodie, this is a fun one—a game of sorts for those days when you fear the tap to your creativity has run dry and you just can’t write. Well, you can. Given some direction—rules, if you will—you might be surprised when you spring a leak 🙂
Page 41 of Room to Write asks us to choose one of the following words: fence, road, boil, or fall. Then:
1. Write the first words that come to mind when you think of your chosen words. Write them in a list form until you hit the bottom of the page (or your computer screen…I decided to do 20).
2. Keeping the list in the exact same order, develop a story in which every line uses one of these words.
He rode the fence on the issue.
Sure, he realized the importance of establishing boundaries,
but was this something to fall under such restriction?
He was already on the border of sanity as it was.
One thing he was never good about was choices,
options that left him speculating which path to take and leaping to cynical conclusions as to what menaced him ahead on each.
In this way, even the gift of choice wound barbed wire round his psyche
and threatened to strangle his pride with the chain-links of fear he entangled himself within.
He never was a man of conviction, willingly crossing picket lines to not rock the boat with authority
and practically tying their strings onto himself as if he were some wooden puppet,
his thoughts and actions the property of someone else, always.
Facing the crossroads that he was now, he tried to envision vast farmland
dotted with livestock and caressed by the open breezes.
In this vision was also a garden; yes, there must be a garden in the back,
serving as the division of pleasure and labor,
where his legal troubles could be checked at the gate and all he would know of the world was a blooming fortress.
He then frowned at the way even his fancies imposed a natural barrier around him,
and wondered if he wouldn’t constantly need something to hold him back—balancing on the precipice of order and chaos as he was—
yes, something that would keep him penned in for his own protection and the safety of the world below.
He struck a match against the brick ledge, the final demarcation he would draw.
Today is definitely one of my days of feeling groggy and uncreative—there’s so much to take care of on all levels of my life, so my preoccupation with it all is almost paralyzing me into doing none of it. In light of these kinds of days, I really appreciate an activity like this that confines me within a short set of rules; for as much as I think I’m a creative spirit, I’ve always functioned well within parameters. Maybe that’s why the word “fence” is the one that leapt out at me 🙂
Anyways, if you ever find yourself in a writing funk, I can promise you this is a good way to shake up your stagnant creative juices; there’s no pressure to how this sort of piece will turn out, just that you follow the rules and keep on to the end. Maybe it’ll go straight to the rubbish bin, maybe you’ll actually pull something from it to recycle in another work. Who knows, but this took me less than 10 minutes, so surely you can afford that little bit of time to see what results. It also has potential as a good lesson in working with motifs/extended metaphors in following through on a theme.
So, obviously I use these writing prompts to get me going, but I’m curious about YOU. What is it that gets your brain-blood flowing and inspired to write again during periods of creative dormancy?