What I Learned By Turning My Writing Into A Word Cloud

word cloud_htlyh_04

As things wind down for Christmas, I've been having bit of fun creating a word cloud from my debut poetry collection, How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life. The idea came via Jo Bell - UK poet, Canal Laureate and creator of the poetry and writing blog '52' - who recently shared a word cloud of her forthcoming collection, 'Kith', on Facebook.

It's a bit of fun but also a great way to get a fresh perspective on existing writing. The cloud allows me to see the entire collection in a snapshot - the more prominent words tell me if I'm hitting the mood and tone I'm looking for and also give me a sense of which words or literary devices I may rely on a little too heavily, eg. if the word 'Like' features prominently, then it may be time to cut back on the use of simile. We all have a go-to writing toolbox and a good way to hit the refresh button on our work is to kick away a few of those verbal crutches!

What I didn't expect - and am really enjoying - is discovering little mini poems in the juxtapositions of the cloud's random arrangement:

- Think blue drumming words; - Tree's hands fold half-beat whispers; - Old wind-eyes walk shadow morning; - Ghost years ground skin, beginning bodies wings; - Sea silence, speak yellow.

These conjour strange and curious images - perfect as idea prompts for new writing!

If you'd like to try this writing tip, check out word cloud creators Wordle and Tagxedo. I liked Tagxedo because it offers a choice of shapes and pretty colours PLUS whenever I changed the font, it created a completely different arrangement, with lots of new mini poems waiting to be found.