Caught in the Algorithm

Would you like to write a poem with me? C’mon, it’s fun! Just grab a stack of paper and a pen. Maybe some colored pens. And some scissors. Tape, perhaps, or mod podge if you want to get fancy.

I was led in this exercise during a Writer’s Club gathering I attended, and now I am sharing it with you. The prompt is:

The Language of the Heart

Step 1: Draw

Do a 5-minute sketch with your non-dominant hand. This helps to activate your creative and problem-solving muscles. It loosens up your brain so you’re not so much a stickler for perfect and pretty. Here’s mine:

Look at your drawing. What feelings does it evoke in you? Memories? Thoughts? Impulses? What is this drawing called? Why?

I call mine “Childhood” because this is how I always used to doodle as a kid. Constantly. Everywhere.

Step 2: Freewrite

Grab your favorite writing implement and some paper, then set your timer for 5 minutes. Using the prompt as a starting point, stick your utensil to paper and don’t let it stop moving. If you come to a point where you don’t know what to write, then repeat what you just wrote. Go on a synonym spree. Write out the prompt.

Play with the words. Let the Spirit move through you and through your implement.

(Did that last bit sound a little dirty to anyone else? Just me? Never mind.) Here is my freewriting:

Step 3: Highlighting

Take out your highlighter (did I mention you need a highlighter?). If you don’t have a highlighter, use one of those colored pens you have or even just the same pen and underline.

Read through what you wrote and highlight (or underline) the words and phrases that speak to you. Don’t think on it too hard. If it calls to you, mark it.

My highlighting is already visible in the above photo. I’m not going to duplicate it here. That would be weird and excessive.

Step 4: Integrating

Now it is time to see if the words want to come together in a different way. List all your words – and here is where the scissors and glue come in – if you want to get really down with it, cut each of the words and phrases out separately so that you can physically move them around and rearrange them.

If you don’t do that (I didn’t), just rearrange them in your mind until they start to come together. Feel free to fill the blank spaces between the words with new words that arise out of the mist. Here is mine:

Step 5: BOOM. A poem.

Now you try!

Scroll to Top