From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Cut-and-Paste Poetry

101 creative writing exercises - cut and paste poetry

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Cut-and-Paste Poetry.

Today’s poetry writing exercise is from 101 Creative Writing Exercises. The exercises in this book encourage you to experiment with different forms and genres while providing inspiration for publishable projects and imparting useful writing techniques that make your writing more robust.

This exercise is from “Chapter Eight: Free Verse.” It’s titled “Cut-and-Paste Poetry.” Enjoy!

Cut-and-Paste Poetry

Most poetry writing exercises are designed to help you focus on one particular area of poetry writing, such as rhyme, alliteration, or imagery. This one works on several levels.

First, this exercise provides a nice, Zen-like break from your daily routine because it involves more than writing. You’ll get to search through clippings and do a little cutting and pasting (the old-fashioned cutting and pasting with scissors and glue, not the computer-based cut-and-paste).

Second, this exercise provides an excellent alternative to recycling those growing stacks of old magazines, newspapers, and brochures that are sitting around collecting dust.


You can come back to this exercise again and again for future poetry writing sessions.

You’ll need some supplies and some time. Try to set aside an hour or two (and note that you can break this exercise up over several days or even longer).

What You’ll Need (Supplies)

  • Old printed material: magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, ads, photocopies, junk mail, etc.
  • A small box, basket, jar, or other container
  • A pair of scissors
  • A glue stick or a roll of clear tape
  • A piece of blank paper (construction paper works well; you can also use a piece of cardboard or a page in your notebook)
  • Highlighter (optional)

The Exercise

Step One: Go through old magazines, pamphlets, printouts, and photocopies. Any printed material will do. Scan through the text to find words and phrases that are interesting and capture your attention and imagination. You can highlight the text you like or move ahead to step two.

Step Two: Cut out the phrases you’ve chosen and place them in your container.

Step Three: When you have a nice pile of clippings, pull some out and spread them across a flat work surface. Sift through the words, pairing different clippings together to see how the phrasing sounds. Place the ones you like best on a piece of paper, arrange them into a poem, and use glue or tape to adhere them.

Tips, Variations, and Applications

Tips: Look for words and images that pop. When you’re all done, save the leftover clippings so you can repeat this exercise again later.

Variations: If you find it difficult to cobble together an entire poem from your clippings, then use a pen or pencil to add words and phrases to complete your poem. You can also clip images and incorporate them to create a multimedia poetry collage that is also a piece of art.

Applications: This exercise reminds you to focus on word choice and language. It encourages you to go outside yourself for inspiration by piecing elements from different sources together to make something new.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of 101 Creative Writing Exercises, available in paperback and ebook.

101 creative writing exercises

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.

Comments

8 Responses to “From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Cut-and-Paste Poetry”

  1. Mikaela D says:

    How fun! I can’t wait to get home and “paste” some poetry!

  2. De says:

    I just subscribed to your blog recently from a link shared by Linda at Spiritual Memoirs 101. This is a wonderful idea for creativity, and I look forward to using it with my older grandchildren, too. Thanks!

  3. In a poetry class our instructor used this technique. It was so much fun. The words I chose triggered other words and I came out with some viable poems.
    I always enjoy reading your posts. They are encouraging to me. I also am enjoying your 101 Creative Writing Exercises.

    • I first did a variation of this exercise in a creative writing workshop too. It was a blast! I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying the book, and I appreciate your feedback on it. Keep writing!

  4. Kelvin Kao says:

    Ransom note inspired? ;)