by Nancy Casey
You are going to need a sentence to start out with. Any sentence. As you gather up your writing materials and loosen your body, think up the sentence you will use.
You can begin with a sentence that describes something you see. “The dish towel is on the table,” for instance, or “It looks like rain.”
It can be a sentence that might be true. “The cat is chasing a moth,” for example. Or a sentence that is likely to be false, such as “The chicken swam the English Channel.”
You can choose to write something random and nonsensical. “The eyeglasses took out the garbage.” Or perhaps, “The table carried the ocean to the zoo.”
If you don’t want to make up a sentence, borrow one. Something you heard on the radio. A random sentence from a book, a newspaper, or online. Any old sentence that you get from anywhere.
Once you decide on your opening sentence, write it out on the first line of your page. On the next line, change one word in the sentence and write it down again.
For example, you might begin with “The child smells smoke.” For the next line you could write “The child smells elephants,” and follow that with “The child plays with elephants.”
Instead of always changing words, you can add words. After “The child plays with elephants,” you could write, “The child plays with dancing elephants.”
Continue to fill up the page, changing one word at a time.
You might find yourself describing something or telling a story. Maybe the page reads like a slide show of images, both likely and fantastical. You might have yourself a private laugh at the things you come up with. Maybe it all makes sense or maybe it’s all nonsense. Maybe a combination of both. Maybe it’s nonsense to others but makes sense to you.
However the page comes together, write the date on it somewhere and give it a title. You can see an example here.
If you try this a few times, each time will probably be different. You can do it with a partner, where you pass the page back and forth and take turns changing the sentence. Or you can do it with a group of people and pass the page around in a circle.
If you want to make it tricky and more interesting, you can start with a long sentence and change two words at a time. “Last June when my birthday came, we built a fort in the willows,” could turn into, “Last June when the relatives came, we hid in a fort in the willows.
Another way to complicate things is to first make a list of 10 or 15 words. Any words. (Here are more suggestions for doing that.) Then, as you fill up the page with sentences, see how many of those words you can slip in.
No matter what you end up writing, each time you fill a page, you will demonstrate how the smallest changes can lead to big surprises.
Nancy Casey teaches at the Recovery Center on Thursdays. Check the calendar for classes and times. All are welcome. Call the Recovery Center 208-883-1045 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Listen to Recovery Radio! 1-2 PM on KRFP 90.3 FM on the Palouse or online at krfp.org. To help with the show or suggest topics, contact the Recovery Center any time (208-883-1045 and email@example.com) or stop in on Thursdays and meet Nancy.