There are loads of exercises you can do that use acrostics to give your writing brain a work out. These kind of word games rarely produce anything useful but they can help you to get unstuck if you don’t know what to write. They’re also good for encouraging you to think of a variety of words, rather than plumping for the same ones all the time.
In this exercise you take the letters of your name and create a phrase by turning each letter into a word. It doesn’t have to make sense, but give yourself a challenge by trying to come up with something that hangs together. Here’s my name in acrostic form:
Jolly Earwigs Suck Sausages In Complete Awareness
Delicious And Vaguely Ironic Divine Source Of Nourishment
A variation on this exercise takes your first name and turns each letter into a word that describes you as a person. It works best if you’re honest! I found this exercise quite hard and kept coming up with other words that described me better but didn’t fit my name:
Doing this can bring up interesting contradictions. You can also create acrostics for the characters in your stories, or pick a name and make the acrostic and then see if it triggers an interesting character. For example, what kind of character is Julie?
This exercise uses the whole alphabet to make a sentence, or two, using each letter for a new word. You’ll end up with nonsense, but it might trigger some interesting associations or images. You could try it running from A – Z, or randomise the letters like this:
G U M Z P J R Q E N F T Y A C X L B I V H K W O S D
“Greatly unafraid, Martin zooms past jealous radicals quickly, even now flying towards yonder abyss convinced Xenophanes liked beetroot in vainglorious hubris knowing with obdurate selfish defiance.”
Doing these kinds of word puzzles works best if you write fast and don’t think too hard. I found the alphabet sentence quite difficult and had to consult a thesaurus for a couple of words because I got completely stumped. I’m now wondering what kind of person can convince themselves that an ancient Greek philosopher enjoyed eating purple root vegetables!
Your turn! Write a sentence using the above arrangement of letters, or make up your own. If an interesting phrase comes up, take it as the starting point for another piece and write on it for five minutes.
Share the results of this exercise, and your name acrostics, in the comments below. I look forward to reading them and being baffled!