Writing exercise: Go crazy

The students I work with struggle to let go sometimes: I have to find tools, techniques and activities which seemingly give them permission to be creative. At the ages of 12-15, they have been excessively trained in the so-called rules of writing, drawing, and maths: to do the task as the teacher asks, because the closer it is, the better grades they’ll get.

One of the ways I help people to let go is that I ask them to write “crazy” or bizarre sentences. I give them examples of tables eating chairs and tired blue strawberries – and now that they are being asked to be “crazy” (ie creative, without limits) it’s okay to deviate from the standard, from what is obvious, from what is expected and known.

So this writing exercise is all about writing crazy sentences:

  1. Write a list of 10 objects – things you can see or things you probably can’t right now like elephants, trumpets, or a merry-go-round.
  2. Write a list of 10 adjectives
  3. Write a list of 10 verbs
  4. Now join these up in the most nonsensical combinations you can (smoking curly elephant, a turquoise trumpet that was kissing…)
  5. Finally, choose your favourite five of these combinations and put them into some bizarre sentences.

This sort of exercise can be great to warm up your brain, to help you snap out of a dull moment, or when you’re writing something else and you’re struggling to give it life and make it unique.

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