On many occasions, I have encouraged readers of this blog to do the Random Word exericse. It's one that my online writing group offers on a weekly basis. Whoever selects the word does it through different methods. One of the easiest is to open a book, close your eyes and plop your finger on the page. Whatever word you hit is "it."
We've had some wonderful results from this exercise. Some, who write the specified ten minutes, writing as fast as possible, no stopping, just letting the words come, have found when finished that they have the bones for an essay or a short story. Writing this way brings a lot from our subconscious. I've sometimes read my ten minutes' worth and wondered Where in the world did that come from?
Three of the members of my writersandcritters group have agreed to let me share their feelings about doing the Random Word exercise. Each of these women are fine writers and have been published many times. Let me introduce you to them.
Jane Banning lives and writes in the northern part of Wisconsin. She is a novelist and a poet. When I asked her how she felt about the Random Word exercise, she said:
Yes, I find that the RW exercise is good for me. When writing “long” (as in a novel or, for me, even a short story) feels like less joy and more work than I’d like, the RW is a little spark of light. It’s a window, not a door. It feels accessible and possible. I’ve had several RW’s published because I think they can be so well-focused and circumscribed.
Toni Somers writes wonderful poetry and creative nonfiction from Springfield, MO. Toni gave me a quote about doing the Random Word exercise and she topped it off by writing a haiku poem to accompany it. She said:
Writing on a random word is a real antidote for writer’s block. Any word, whether provided by a friend or picked from a dictionary, can set me free. I can write and not worry about making each word perfect, or using lush language, or even making sense. I’m simply free! It’s wonderfully liberating to turn words in my mind loose and let them fall on the page in the order they choose. If as a child you enjoyed being a bit rebellious and “breaking rules”, try random word writing. It will give you the same sense of freedom and joy.
Haiku on The Random Word
Random words set free
unfettered, unleashed on page
liberate the soul.
Joan Lambert Bailey is an American writer who lives in Japan. She writes for Japanese publications as well as American ones. She says:
As usual, this random word took a turn I didn't expect. I always start out thinking I have nothing to say, and then it bursts forth. It is amazing, although I can't say that of the writing! I do love these exercises, though.
These three writers are not beginners but they still value the benefit of doing the Random Word exercise. How about joining them by doing a Random Word exercise of your own today. You might be happily surprised at what results you get. One note, however--sometimes the exercise produces nothing but gibberish. That's quite alright. Even then, the ten minutes spent writing gets the creative juices flowing and you're ready to move on to the next project of the day.
Try the exercise with one of the words below: