The Other Twenty-Five
Writing exercise ends with twist
Do finish this post to discover the secret!
Sometimes you need to insert some novelty into your writing routine. You spend months writing newsletter posts or other prose but you merely produce lifeless clones without zing or zip. You encounter writing ruts requiring new methods to reset your equilibrium. Therefore, you could experiment with something new to emerge from the ruts.
Writing restrictions might fulfill your need for novelty! Ouilpo, you see, is one of the methods of using restrictions - like dropped letters, omitted words or other tough impediments - to force you to write differently. It’s like turning up the difficulty level of Doom or some other video diversion to reignite your interest. Like tying your limb to your side to restrict your freedom of motion, Ouilop removes options to force you to be more clever.
The tricky thing is to persist with longer writing projects in the light of limited options. It’s like the process of thinking up multiple solutions to one problem (listen to the storm in your mind!): difficult to execute but sometimes it ends with superb solutions. Finding new, different words to describe something in light of reduced options stretches, strengthens the mind. Worth trying, I think.
It’s tough, though. Sometimes the right words come without difficulty. Other times you need seconds, minutes, or even hours to find the right words.
But you must persist to succeed. One interesting book held countless words (in English) to critique specific French poetry, with no reference to gender. The twenty percent point of this book informed us of the missing descriptions. Most people didn’t detect the missing pronouns until the writer pointed it out! So, limits don’t need to destroy your writing ingenuity!
The limits of Oulipo or other restrictive writing methods could result in clunky, confusing prose - there is some risk of getting things wrong. Your writing won’t be perfect, not in the beginning, while you struggle for different words. Your work might extend beyond your expected timeline due to the need to find other words. Your mind could be pushed to new limits. The work could pulverize your mind, suck up your energy. Your brow could be drenched with moisture from the effort of word selection, like lifting weights in the gym. But the results should get better with repetition. Consider your results thoughtfully. The difficulty might prove to be enough fun to reignite your inner fire for composition.
Worth trying? Is there something to lose by using this method? The decision is yours. But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Until this closing sentence, this exercise inspired by Oulipo omitted the letter A.
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