TBT - Limit yourself and find more freedom of expression

Yesterday I was sharing this article and plea for us all to find that inner 5-year-old, because the future needs all the creative brains we can rally together. That inspired me to share this content from a blog long ago on this Throwback Thursday.

The week is ending
What awaits me this weekend?
First one of the Fall

Autumn is coming
Pumpkin reigns supreme for now
Yum! That sure is gourd.

OK, maybe these aren't my best haiku to date but haiku is a constrained form of writing which is a cool way to explore creative options. There are many other forms of constrained writing you could give a go if you like. I was reminded of some of these while watching Vi Hart's Twelve Tones which I learned about from this list of 60 YouTube channels that will make you smarter.

Anyway, back to constraints. We all have them. Time, Resources. Rules. But that just means that sometimes we have to be more creative in how we do things. Life throws real roadblocks and obstacles at us every day, but if we practice dealing with constraints in creative ways, we will be better equipped to handle those bumps in the road.

So why not explore some type of constrained writing and let me know how it goes. Here are some suggested forms to try:

Six-Word Memoirs

Over a million stories have been shared at Six-Word Memoir®. What is the essence of your message. Can you say it in six?


Twitter plus fiction = twiction. Need a few more words, or at least characters, maybe twiction is more your speed. Limited to 140 characters, cause Twitter. Can you tell a short, short story?


One of my personal go to constraints. Who knows, maybe it will become one of yours too. Try some poetry instead of prose. Just a reminder, haiku is 3 lines containing 5-7-5 syllables, respectively. That's kind of an oversimplification; read more about it here.


Instead of being limited by length or structure, maybe you want to try ditching a particular letter of the alphabet. One of my favorite examples of this is Mark Dunn's book Ella Minnow Pea in which certain letters suddenly get bounced from use. A really good read.


Yep, it is just what it sounds like. Each word much contain a particular letter you select.


You might have been taught not to play with your food but no one said you shouldn't mix up your letters. Pick a word, phrase, or sentence; dump the letters into a pile and see what you can rearrange them into.

Chaterism (Snowball)

Wow, this is where art and science really play together. Each succeeding word in a poem must increase or decrease in a uniform way, such as one character at a time. It grows like a snowball rolling down a hill. So I might say


except I know that is not true. Also, for the techno-geeky among us you may also want to check out what Paul Thompson is doing with his computer code to generate snowballs.

Don't feel like writing? No problem. Limit yourself to drawing with one color or using your non-dominant hand. Make up a new recipe with only three ingredients or go for a walk and don't step on any cracks. What did that feel like? Or use an app like Android's Creativity Cards Pro which offers up random creative challenges for you to write, design or draw.

New addition:

Another app that I have used for a while now that is great for generating writing prompts and other wackiness is The Brainstormer. Check it out.