Happy Holidays! This Friday Fragment is another writing exercise I pulled from a recent read. It is quick and fun. I could see this being a spark for moments of “writer’s block” or particularly rewarding for poetic efforts. For me, it was helpful practice in considering the creativity of word choice that can bring unexpected life to sentences and stories.
This exercise came from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Here are the instructions from her book:
“Fold a sheet of paper in half the long way. On the left side of the page list ten nouns. Any ten.
Now turn the paper over to the right column. Think of an occupation; for example, a carpenter, doctor, flight attendant. List fifteen verbs on the right half of the page that go with that position.
Open the page. You have nouns listed in a row down the left side and verbs listed on the right. Try joining the nouns with the verbs to see what new combinations you can get, and then finish the sentences, casting the verbs in the past tense if you need to.”
I tried it twice. The first set of nouns I combined with verbs from a construction worker. The second set of nouns I combined with verbs from a chef. Then I flipped the nouns with the verbs to come up with a total of four new sets of possibilities. Some worked better than others. Below are the four different lists:
2 Sets of Nouns with Verbs from a Construction Worker
Grass balanced asphalt
Light grips the horizon
Breath breaks air
Bells toss tinkles
A cookie buries dread
Carrots balance calories
Stars reach for earth
2 Sets of Nouns with Verbs from a Chef
Books whisk ideas
Rain tastes the earth
Calendar dices time
Mittens marinate flesh
Bells whisk sentiment
Vacation zests family
Bauble boil blood
Grab a pen and a piece of paper. This exercise doesn’t require a lot, and it can be a productive mental activity in tiny writing spaces such as holidays often create. But spend most of your time with family, friends, and good food; consider the greatest story ever told.