Saturday 17 December 2011

Where can words come from?

I am a writer, a wordsmith. I take a collection of letters and make them into words which I then paint a picture with. But where can these words come from? I find they can come from anywhere in the same way inspiration takes you by surprise. It might be a song, a poem or a conversation. It can be a piece of art, a beautiful sky or a perfumed flower. All these and a myriad of other things can be the trigger for those words to start forming that picture which becomes a narrative and then a complete story or poem.

There are times though when you need those words to start working and they just won't. Some might say 'walk away, they will come eventually.' But that isn't always an option. Here are a few ways of kick starting the process:

1. Stop thinking you can't do it.

2. Go away and read some poetry or a favourite book. It is amazing how other people's beautifully crafted words can trigger your own.

3. Do some free writing - just writing continuously without thinking about what you are writing. Don't stop (and I mean don't stop) just keep going for a couple of minutes. When you read it back you may find something there that jumps out at you and starts the flow of words. The added advantage of this exercise is that you will have emptied your brain of all the 'stuff' that was clogging it up.

4. Go through your notebook - you are a writer you should always have a notebook in which you take notes of snippets of interesting conversations, descriptions of places, people you've seen, experiences. Something in there will remind you of a moment you wish to bring to life.

5. Try something different - write in a different way. Maybe take your free writing and cut it up then reorder it. See what comes out of that and then fly with it.

Most importantly believe that those words are there, they may be shy but they will come forward if you give them a chance. Enjoy your writing.

The idea of cut ups is, apparently, an aleatory literary technique and is most often associated with the likes of William S Burroughs and David Bowie. Below is a song written in a similar way but am not sure that it relies as much on chance as the term aleatory suggests but it is hugely successful and poignant for many of us. It is a song sung by the Military Wives Choir with Gareth Malone but importantly it is written by Paul Mealor. He took the letters of these wives and their husbands then using phrases from them he created this song. A song truly from the heart and I wish them luck with all their fundraising and really hope they get to be Christmas number one.

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