Patricia Lee Lewis is a writer and workshop leader who lives in beautiful New England (my favourite part of the world). I have been on a number of her writing retreats and experienced the gift she has for drawing out the very best out of her writers.
The exercise below is one I remember from writing with her. Patricia is one of the most special people I know.
Over to Patricia:
What makes this exercise so good?
This exercise works for poets and prose writers as a way to surprise themselves and their readers through odd juxtapositions.
I use in my workshops to go to a deeper place in our writing, a non-linear, imagistic place. The mind is a problem-solving organ.It loves puzzles, things that do not quite make sense.
The mind takes any two things put side by side in juxtaposition and creates a third thing. It cannot help it. It’s partly for this reason that writers do not have to tell everything, but leave much to the imagination of the reader. Random chance is the engine. I call it the “Cut & Paste” exercise and here is how it goes:
Method: 20 minutes
- Write a 10-line poem or prose paragraph in a light, happy, grateful or excited tone.
- Write a 10-line poem or prose paragraph in a dark, sad, anxious, regretful tone.
- Weave the two pieces together one line at a time:
- line one of piece A;
- line one of piece B;
- line two of piece A;
- line two of piece B.
- You may edit for syntax later, but notice the leaps and odd connections your mind makes as you read the resulting piece of writing.
Redraft this into a complete poem or think about how you can use this piece – or this method – in a piece of prose fiction you are working on.