Friday, March 8, 2013

Cutting Up: A Writing Exercise

A few years back, I found myself receiving copies of Vogue. No idea how. It remains a mystery to this day.

I don't read magazines, but when presented with free ones it seems a shame to just throw them away. So I find other uses for them. Namely, word collages. (It's like being back in school! Only this time I'm not trying to find words/pictures that honestly describe me and won't upset my teachers....)

This exercise is basically the "cut-up technique" popularized by William Burroughs (and, for me, David Bowie since I learned about it while watching a Bowie documentary on VH1 years ago). I use this technique in pretty much the same way I use Magnetic Poetry (Breaking the Block), to inspire or occasionally supplement my writing.

You'll need:
  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Imagination
And, if you want to immortalize your words, some paper/board backing and glue would probably help. (Or a picture frame.) I tend to just leave my clippings loose, stick them in a box when I'm done, and break them back out when I need some creative calisthenics.

Here's one of mine:

Cut Ups

While this poem, in its entirety, is nothing much to write home about (and I haven't done anything with it) I really enjoy some of the phrases and I know I used at least one set in a NaNoWriMo novel. It's a fun exercise, easily doable (if you lack magazines, you could always use newspapers) and a good substitute for a Magnetic Poetry kit.

Have you ever used the cut-up technique? How did it turn out?

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