Words As Play

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No, this is not a post about religion. This is a post about WORDS.
I have a box in my studio where I collect found objects that one day may be used in a mixed media piece. I often keep colorful birthday and Christmas greeting cards for later use in creating collages. And by way of Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, I also collect words.

In her book, poem crazy; freeing your life with words, Susan suggests this exercise to free the writer’s mind when it has become stale or stalled out:

Collect words and phrases from magazines, the internet, advertisements, instruction manuals (like this example from a Ford pickup repair manual: luminosity probe and choke hinge pin!), cookbooks, manifestos, field guides…any media source close at hand. Jot down the words and throw them into a box or folder. Nouns like blood, sweat and tears and verbs like slink, churn, and lure will help loosen things up in your mind. 

Next ransack the house and garage, attaching your words to objects. Be spontaneous. 

Don’t think too much. Just play with it.

Pin your labels to objects and see where the words take you.

My husband is a pack rat, so I could see how this exercise can easily get out of hand. He has so much “stuff” (most of which I’d label “throw-away”), I hardly know where to focus my gaze when I step into his workshop. But he fixes, cuts, welds, slumps, carves, and saws all manner of things, so who am I to judge?

I stayed out of his space, and attached my words to common objects around our home, and suddenly it seemed as though the label, in a small albeit interesting way, changed the way I viewed the object. New connections were born; fresh metaphors came to mind. I actually felt a little compassion for those tomatoes (soon to be eaten or rotted); saw my guitar as a Star Child, or the center of my universe (which she most certainly is), and felt the whimsy of a hobo, a solo flower child perhaps? kicking the leaves as she walked. 

As Carl Jung said: The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. 

So today I let my hair down and got wildly enthusiastic with words, as play. 
And now I think I’m ready to get back to work.

0 thoughts on “Words As Play”

  1. Monica, when I was reading this, I though – if I had more time to pursuit such activities, I'd love this one… But that's it, it's so important to realize that this is not a waste of time but an enriching process. When I saw the labels attached to the things in your photos, it seemed to me that there was no connection at all but after reading your found meanings I realized how personal these connections are and that I'd need to go through the process myself to find mine. Thank you for sharing this idea, it's very inspirational. 🙂

  2. Yes, I guess they do turn out rather personal, although when you're in process, it doesn't feel that way…until later. Some are downright quirky and funny (so many I didn't post). I think this would be really fun to do in a group.

  3. I love this idea! When I'm reading I often highlight a single word or a phrase which strikes my fancy, hoping to use it some day in some way. Maybe I'll start posting them around my home and see what happens. 🙂

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Welcome to the creative playground of Image, Sculpture, Verse.  I live in a river town nestled in the Chugach Mountain Range of Southcentral Alaska.



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