Here’s an exercise that is designed to shake you out of your word ruts. Go get a book. Any book. Open it to any page. Without looking at the page, put your finger down somewhere on the page. Whatever word your finger lands on, write this word down. Then go to another page and repeat this. Keep doing this until you have 10 words. List these words at the top of a blank piece of paper, or at the top of your blank screen.
Now write a one or two paragraphs on any subject, and use all 10 of those random words somewhere in those paragraphs. This will make your mind jump around and might cause you to describe things in new ways. Go ahead, it’s fun.
Here are the 10 words I chose last time I did this exercise: crying, heights, ridicule, enclosed, falling, yells, guns, elevator, carwash, snakes; and the paragraph I wrote:
I love my herb garden. Because of my arthritic knees, for the last few years it’s been hard for me to work there, because I’d be open to ridicule for sitting in the dirt weeding, when most people kneel to thin their peppermint. A herb garden is spacious and open to the wind and rain and bugs and yes, even snakes. Nothing is enclosed, and this is good because I am claustrophobic and even an elevator or a carwash makes me sweat. I don’t like heights either, and an herb garden by its very nature is close to the ground, unless you build it on a rooftop, which would be stupid because you’d be vulnerable to falling that way. Herb gardens are safe too; criminals don’t hang out there. No one would bring guns into a herb garden – who would want to shoot marjoram? No one yells in my herb garden either, it is a quiet place; the loudest sound is the comforting hum of bees. If I’m sad you might find me crying in my herb garden; sometimes I cry with happiness when the sweet dusty smell of lavender hits my nose, or at the sight of the first leaves of sage erupting from dry brown stalks after a long winter.
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