Writing for liberation exercise: squiggle drawings for non-linear thought

I often do this activity with kids – turn a squiggle into a drawing – but this writing exercise takes that a step further.

Close your eyes and draw some random lines, circles, loops, zigzags, or whatever, on a piece of paper, or using a paint program. Then, open your eyes and turn what you have into a drawing. Aim to avoid the cliches – circles are faces, squiggles are snakes – and you’ll find yourself having to invent strange creatures and worlds to make it work. Then, briefly describe what you’ve drawn, and if you want, develop those ideas further.

It’s a simple concept, but squiggle drawing will quite literally force you away from linear thinking. Sequential efficiency is great when writing a step-by-step guide to fixing a computer bug, but when writing for creativity and liberation, we need to rejoice in divergence – new, surprising, and odd ideas. So a simple exercise like creating from squiggles can jolt our mind into thinking-outside-the-box mode and steer us away from the all too tempting and automatic stick figure representation of what we see (by this, I mean when we use known symbols to represent things instead of using our own interpretations).

Here are a few that I’ve done, to show you what I mean:

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