I came across this blog entry by Janet Ruffin, a woman who does art therapy with children with cancer. To help restore her mental energy she developed a creative exercise that she can do on her breaks.
I will put the instructions directly in her words:
… I created a short exercise I could do during my workday.At lunchtime, I would choose a book from the library, sneak upstairs to the 11th floor, scratch paper and lunch in hand, and find a chair facing a window.I would open the book at random, write down three words and three phrases from the page and then turn to another section and do the same. I would play with combining these words and phrases until something emerged. Here’s an example:
A place under the moon
where bleeding bees
try to hold sucking things
In this process, words combine that would normally never be put together. Refreshing, curious or eerie, a “thrown poem” shocks the mind. It takes you away to sit under trees and smell lilac and lavender — even on the 11th floor of a hospital.Try it and see what you come up with.
I decided I’d better give this exercise a try before passing it along, so I sat down with one of my twelve-year old son’s fantasy books. Here’s my thrown poem. I don’t know if I followed her rules exactly the way she intended, but it was sure a fun exercise and felt very free and breezy to write this way.
He was a great power,
but now he is decrepit
no longer leaving prints
in his gloom he is blurring at the edges
“I couldn’t understand the rules”, he says
“All I saw of it was a great crash
and then a great roaring bonfire in instants”
He shouts as he dissolves into mist.