Thursday, July 30, 2009

typographic paint: "persnickety"

persnickety...(adj): overparticular; pretentious

ex: 'His persnickety attitude created a frustrating work environment.'"

[view main word list and the story behind the series]

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

think outside QWERTY

I recently watched a video of an artist painting a portrait while listening to the subject's music, moving the brush according to the tempo of the music (view the video). It was fascinating; that exercise represents what it means to be an artist. Of course, I'm not going to sit down and write an article about Hendrix while listening to his guitar solos. But, the article did get me thinking about how alternative methods can help writers create successful and unique work. So in that spirit, let's start with what most writers are familiar with: typing.

What's wrong with typing words?

My advice: don't do it...not all the time anyway. Writing by hand is liberating; the scribbles, scratched-out words, arrows, lines, consider it a nude thought process, not in an exhibitionist way but in an unconstrained way. Writing by hand makes the process more personal, it's a creative investigation that is more dynamic than hitting the backspace key or quickly applying a bold weight to certain words.

Is that not enough? Not convinced? Let me take the handmade notion one step farther.

Draw your letters. That may sound ridiculous in the digital age but imagine expressing your thoughts beyond a simple choice between two synonyms. A 't' can really support the word 'tree' if the serifs flourish into leaves...or maybe, the main stroke has a tree bark texture to it. Ok, I admit this approach is more for poets and creative writers than copywriters and technical writers but the exercise is still a liberating study that allows the mind to look at a subject from a different angle (something that all writers, regardless of career path, can benefit from).

I see there are some of you still shaking your heads, first left, then right, then left again....ok, I get the point, you need more.

Create a narrative with photography. Don't write with words...get out of the studio (or whatever you call your work space) and take pictures that represent what you're trying to say. And notes are off limits! The whole point of this exercise is to think about your subject in an unrestricted capacity. Once you have a collection of images that you feel provide a decent narrative, go back to the studio, print the pictures, and lay them out on your desk. Start writing but use the pictures as your inspiration; get creative, be bold.

While I consider these suggestions great ideas, I encourage anyone interested in writing to generate their own unique methods; the more personal the approach, the better the writing will be. The whole point is to move you away from the keyboard, to remove you from routine and place you within a rich thought process. Writing is structured thinking; if you broaden your thinking, you will certainly broaden your chances of creating successful work."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

typographic paint

If you draw, paint, take pictures, or (insert your artistic discipline of choice here) then you understand what it means to work with specific media and materials. Before an artist is truly an artist, they are a student of their chosen discipline, learning the nuances of pens, markers, filters, handmade paper, etc. And that's what words are, to a writer that is. Typographic paint.

In order to help word artists develop their palettes, I'm adding a 'typographic paint' section that will feature a new word and definition every week.

Similar to the 'thoughts on materials' section, 'typographic paint' will display words that are interesting, words that can definitely kick a sentence up to the next level. No boring stuff here, all 100% caffeinated goodness.

Jot them down, commit them to memory, or ignore them. Just know they're here if you need them!

the paint:


...more words coming soon...

Monday, July 20, 2009

one cup...

Yes, that's right, it's the incredible 'Pour-O-Matic' 'Espresso-Matic'...a piece of illustrated machinery used for regularly distributing caffeinated fiction. From this reliable mechanism will pour thoughts and ramblings dedicated to one notion:

If a coffee cup could talk, what would it say, based on what it has seen?

After seeing the semi-antiquated machine (illustrated above) sit idle in a Jiffy Lube waiting room, I thought about how long the coffeemaker has been around. That reminded me of an idea I had for a piece of writing...basically, if a coffee cup could talk, what would it say? What stories could it tell? Put all of that together and you get a "fly-on-the-wall" style of fiction around an ordinary object most of us use on a regular basis.

The writing for this series will follow a variety of styles. A few that are on my "to use" list are the "6 word novel" style (essentially, an entire story compressed into 6 words), prose, and straight dialogue (no narration). Stories are brewing as we speak so sit and savor the idea, let it sink in. When you return, look for the above illustration and enjoy the fictional ramblings of an observant coffee cup."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"I'm sure you can imagine...

Far be it from me to stop inspiration.

(for the background story behind these articles, click here)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

an interesting story or just a door?

Inspect the door in the photograph, discover its intricacies, and many times has this door been opened/closed, who constructed the door, who created the elaborate door knob, how many pedestrians has this door seen walk past it? Think about the possibilities, realistic or ridiculous.

The subject of this photograph is a simple door in Harpers Ferry, WV; the basic function of a door is something familiar to all of us. But this exercise isn't about a door, it's about the "what ifs" behind an object. We go through life allowing most of what we see to pass through our brains as quickly as a single exhaled puff of cigarette smoke fades into its surroundings. It's a natural reaction, we can't truly look at everything we pass by in a given day. But what could we discover if we took a moment to experience just one random observation?

The purpose of the building that this door belongs to is unfortunately lost in the recesses of my memory. Fortunately, an object as weathered as this one has many stories to tell, even if they are fiction."