Don't Forget to Play

February 1, 2019



Are you ready to play? I'm not talking about smacking someone on the head with a pillow. Or beating someone at a video game. I'm talking about writing. 


Writing is all about playing -- playing with words. Sometimes the greatest fun writers have is not seeing their words in print. Now don't get me wrong. Publishing is a great reward. But if that is the only reason you write, then I would suggest rethinking your goal. Writers who enjoy their jobs love to play with words. They find it fun to experiment with how words come together:  their sounds, their rhythm, their texture. It's a game to find the best combination of words to achieve a certain effect. 


I have been writing a lot lately, and it was beginning to feel a lot like work. After all, writing is hard work, right? Absolutely. But I decided to take a little break. So, I decided to experiment with a new project last weekend. I picked a letter from the alphabet and made three lists: nouns, verbs and adjectives/adverbs. Then I added an extra column for "other" parts of speech that didn't fit, like exclamations, prepositions, etc. Without using a dictionary (print or online), I began writing down as many words as I could think of that began with that letter. It became a game between my husband and I to see who could think of the most words! It also forced me to think outside the box and write down words that I don't usually use in my writing. 


Then, play time began. Using the words on my list, I began putting them together in short phrases and sentences. Then I wondered...could I create an entire short story (for kids) that mostly used words that began with the same letter? I took the challenge! I'm still working on a draft, but I have an idea, some main characters, and a few sentences to get me started. And most importantly, I had a lot of fun doing it! 


Don't be afraid to shake up your writing every now and then. Do an excise like this one. You don't have to start with one letter like I did. You can write down random words in the three columns and find some interesting connections. Another writer made these three columns: Protagonist, Setting, Antagonist. He wrote down random words in each column and then put together as many interesting combinations as he could find. It inspired a story. 


So don't forget to play with words. You never know -- your next idea may be waiting to be discovered! 


WRITING PROMPT: Pick one of the word play writing exercises in this post (or create one of your own). Grab a piece of paper or your computer and find a quiet space to think and come up with a word list. Then see where it takes you. Don't be afraid to try new ideas or put together words that may seem whacky at first. Just have fun playing with words. Don't worry if you didn't come up with your next great idea this time. Do it again from a different angle or at a different time or place. The great thing about creativity is that is it is never exactly the same two times in a row. It's play time! 




Photo Source: Allen Taylor on




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CAROLYN BENNET FRAISER is a published writer and creative writing instructor in Brevard, North Carolina, where she enjoys helping youth find their passion for writing. 

Carolyn is available to speak to children and youth about creative writing at your school or special event. 

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@ 2019 CAROLYN BENNETT FRAISER. All Rights Reserved.