Have you ever been in a library or bookstore, glanced at two books shelved next to each other, and realized that their titles formed a phrase or sentence? Today, I turned this phenomenon into art by stacking books so their titles made two short poems.
This project was quick, easy, and only required books and a camera, but it reminded me that opportunities for creativity are all around us. Even if you are not a fan of writing, I would strongly encourage you to try incorporating art into your everyday life.
Here are three tips that will make it easier for you to get involved with art:
1. Start small
Sometimes creating art feels like an enormous undertaking, but you don’t have to start with oil painting. Instead, choose one easy project (like stacking books) and a short amount of time (like ten minutes in the evening). You might be surprised by how much you can enjoy in short, simple projects—I know that I was.
2. Ask friends
If you have friends who are involved in genres that intrigue you, ask them if they’ll teach you. This can be pretty scary, but most people enjoy talking about things they enjoy, so they’ll most likely say yes. I would never have tried ceramics or violin without my friends’ help.
3. Try improvising
You won’t always have the exact supplies that you need to follow directions, and that’s completely okay. You can often find something that will work just as well—like trading an awl for a thumbtack. This improvising just gives you another way to enjoy being creative.
Art is everywhere. You just have to know how to look for it.
“Accidental gap” – When I first heard that phrase, I did not understand what it meant. Something that has a hole in it? Leaving out something that you were supposed to pack? A pause when the speaker forgets what to say?
Well, all of these guessed definitions form part of an accidental gap. According to Glottopedia which is a linguistic website, “an accidental gap is a non-existing word which is expected to exist given the hypothesized morphological rules of a particular language.” Put plainly, it is a word that does not exist in our language but does in other ones such as “unsad” or “love between best friends.” Here is a great video that shows this.
Everyone suffers from writer’s block at some point, and there are a billion solutions for getting past it. But when someone told me that she runs her poems through Google translate when she gets stuck, I had to try it.
What’s the hardest part about writing? Most writers will tell you it’s staring at a blank sheet of paper or the blinking cursor on a white screen. But what if you could reverse the process?
Erasure poetry does just that. Instead of starting with a blank page, erasure poems begin with a prose text written by someone else. Then, the poet crosses out phrases (and even sentences) until the remaining words form a poem. My text, a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, fit completely on one page, but many erasure poems are made from a single page of a longer story or essay.
When I started my poem, crossing out words was really easy. Getting the leftover words to make sense was a little harder. This forced me to stop trying to control the poem or plan what would happen in it. Instead, I had to tap into my creative side by choosing interesting words or images and trying to link them together. The result was a lyrical poem that I called “Coal.”
I made a second erasure poem using the same text, but the result was completely different. Although it even used some of the same words as “Coal,” my second poem, “She and He,” was much more narrative.
Working with someone else’s words helped me create images and expressions that I would never have thought of on my own. I enjoyed the variety this technique helped me produce, and I would love to try it again.
One of the main reasons why we don’t try creative things is because we’re afraid to fail. We’re afraid that our drawings won’t look right or that our dancing will be awkward. This is especially true for art that seems intimidating or inaccessible, like poetry.
We’re forgetting that to create good art, we first have to create bad art. If you or your siblings took piano or violin lessons as kids, you’ll know what I’m talking about. When you first squeaked out the notes to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at your recital, you sounded terrible. You just didn’t care.