I know, it just SOUNDS kinky, doesn’t it? It’s not quite as exciting as all that. Unless you’re a blocked writer, then it just MIGHT be that exciting.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about constrained writing:
Constrained writing is a literary technique in which the writer is bound by some condition that forbids certain things or imposes a pattern.
Dr. Seuss, on a fifty dollar bet, wrote Green Eggs and Ham using only fifty words (over and over and in combination). The Cat in the Hat used exactly 200.
So why would anyone want to do such a thing to him or herself (other than on a bet and taking masochists temporarily out of the equation – sorry guys)?
For me, personally, writing to a constraint can break through creativity blocks in ways that forcing myself through straight prose and narrative just can’t do.
Additionally, with some restraints, such as haiku or drabble – the forced brevity makes the project feel more “doable” than say, writing a whole chapter of a novel. Yet, in that “doability” there is imbedded such a tight restriction on the writing that one must become extremely focused and precise in a way that isn’t required by the nature of writing narrative prose.
Sometimes writing runs away with me, or me with it. The tight discipline of constrained writing can actually, at times, be a relief. And THAT actually IS kinda kinky, isn’t it??
Here are some of the writing constraints that I dabble in.