Saturday, January 30, 2010

Creative Collages--A Way to Get Deeper into Your Story and Your Life

I'm a huge fan of collage. Making a collage, from bits of magazine photos and words and sketches and pretty much anything that can be glued onto paper, is a way I lift myself out of what I already know into what's possible.

Two readers, Lynn and Carole, were inspired by a previous post on making a collage for your writing project. Collaging your writing goals, dreams, focus, or questions can help clarify and bring in new energy. Lynn and Carole said:

Before we got started, we contemplated and then we talked--about what we'd both like to understand about our characters in our stories, what our purpose for writing the story would be, things like that. Collages tend to take on a life of their own sometimes but it's always great fun and a nice reminder afterward to look at for inspiration.

They gave me permission to share their collages with you.

Here's Lynn's:

And here's Carole's:

See what variation there is, how free each collage is, how beautifully it speaks of individual creativity. Can you take on the assignment this week? Get together with a writing buddy. Bring some magazines, posterboard, glue or rubber cement, colored pencils, scissors.

Your Weekly Writing Exercise
Once you've created a collage, try the exercise below. It's great fun and oh-so-revealing about your writing project.

It comes from writer Sheila Asato of Monkey Bridge Arts, (her website is, who passed along some wonderful questions she uses to ask about collage.

I've taken Sheila's ideas and developed them specifically for book writers. When you've finished your collage, ask yourself:

1. Is there a pathway in my collage, a beginning point and ending point? If so, how do these relate to the beginning of my story and the possible ending?

2. Squint at the collage and find the place with most contrast, which jumps out at you. Ask yourself how it might reflect the highest moment of tension in your book, or the question that remains unanswered, or the unmet challenge your book speaks of.

3. Look at the types of pictures you chose. What are they, mostly--images of people, places, animals, landscapes, buildings, the ocean, the sky, abstracts? How does this predominant type of image tell you something about your book's main focus, the aspect you feel most comfortable with?

Send your writing collages, your questions, and I'll post the ones I can!


  1. Wonderful post. I love collages and I've always wanted to do this for one of my books but never have. It would be fun, and might even help me get a handle on my characters. In my younger days, I did a couple of collages. Theme: Teen angst and young love. Mmmmm, wonder where they are?

  2. Sometimes I come across one of my older collages and remember so much more from that time of my life than words can convey. I hope you find your teen ones, Jess. Thanks for writing!

  3. As a writer I focus so much on writing and books that I need to remind myself there are all sorts of ways to be creative. As you showed in this post, the neat thing is the same well of creativity feeds all our projects.

  4. What a neat comment, Jan! Thanks for visiting and posting this. Creativity is an amazing gift to my life--I need it every day in as many ways as possible.

  5. I absolutely love this idea and think it might be a great way to get to know a character more deeply. I'll have to try it. Visuals can be just the thing to get the creativity flowing. Thanks!

  6. Yes, same for me. Visuals are very inspiring and help me remember why I'm doing this.

    I enjoyed visiting your blog too!