Between Melancholy and Mischance: Resurrecting Old Writing Tricks

Many aeons ago, before the dawn of dust and time, I was an aspiring young writer with dreams of published works someday.  I had planned to go to college for it, even, but well, Life Happens and so here we find ourselves, a few thousand miles off course, staring at the stars, looking for roads that’ll lead the way back.  Thanks to you, my wonderful Patrons, I’ve been able to take a couple of online writing classes in the last couple of weeks, and y’all I LOVE IT!  Like, this is the Best Thing Ever.

I do not, however, love seeing just how painful my writing has gotten over the years.  Yikes.  

One thing I’ve been struggling with is getting myself to sit down, open a notebook, and START PUTTING WORDS ON THE BLASTED PAPER.  I am *awful* at writing exercises, even though I know I really need to do them.  I sit at the page and stare.  And stare.  And stare.

It’s very boring. 

The flash fiction course I’m currently working through has a bit about games to play to get the flames of creativity sparked beyond the usual “sit and write whatever comes to mind” variety kinds of writing exercises.  One of these reminded me of something I used to do, back in prehistory.

When I was a teenager, a friend  of mine had one of those magnetic poetry sets on the refrigerator, and I loved to look at it and see what the jumbles of random words would do. It was an amazing tool to tap into the creative wordwitchery side of my brain.  To this day, one of my favorite phrases that I’ve been hanging onto comes from that:

“The perfume speaks: listen, child, they would poison you with words.”

Seriously, is that not a great line?  Someday I’ll even figure out what I’m going to do with it.  In the meantime, I’m hoarding it like the word dragon I am.

Something I’ve toyed with over the years, but never got around to because it was going to be A Project, was making something similar of my own and well, today I got around to it at last.

I strongly advise against being like me and formatting, writing, and cutting out over 400 words, entirely by hand, in a single afternoon.  It’s a wee bit painful.  Partway through the cutting stage, my hands started to cramp up on me.  I took a break to let the muscles unclench, and wondered why the hell I was bothering going to so much effort.  (My hand *really* hurt, and it was making me cranky at myself.)  Idly, I sifted through the words I had already trimmed and pulled a few out.  I considered them and realized that I was holding the answer in my palm:

“between melancholy and mischance”

Okay, fine.  That sort of thing would be why I was doing it.  (It occurred to me later that this could also make an interesting oracular device, so that’s getting kept a little closer to the front of the To Be Considered pile.)

It took a couple of hours, all together, but I now have a starter set of words to play with, stored in an old black marble box that once held my mother’s few pieces of good jewelry, and I Am Pleased.  It’ll get added to over time, but I’m happy with it, and am very much looking forward to using them.  After all, if one can’t play with words, what’s the point of writing?

(Originally posted on Patreon at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s