Cut-Up Writing Technique (Thanks Bowie!)

I have easily read 100 books about writing on a wide variety of topics:

  • Inspiration
  • Motivation
  • Technique
  • Tools
  • Strategies
  • Planning
  • Timing
  • Zen and Ethereal
  • Practical
  • Meditative

…and goodness knows what other topics I’m missing.

Writing Cut-Up Method

David Bowie’s Cut-Up Method

Well, it isn’t quite David Bowie’s, but he famously used it.

I do not have one clue how I’ve missed this writing idea, but if I’ve missed it, others probably have, too, so here we are.

William S. Burroughs and painter Brion Gysin developed a variation on a collage, but for writing. Starting with pulling words out of a hat, it has now evolved to using random cut-up word generators online.

Pieces of Words

You can choose words from anywhere. Books, magazines, your own journals, thesauruses online, dictionaries, ads you see on the side of the road… anywhere you see words, write them down for your cut-up sessions.

Once you have them, literally cut them up. One word or thirty; random numbers of words would be my style.

Writing Cut-Up Method

Arrange Them… Randomly

Just pull the words out of a paper sack or a Crown Royal bag, put the words down in no particular order and voilĂ ! You are writing!

Writing Cut-Up Method

Head Start for Writer’s Block

If you are having a hard time thinking of something to write, this is the method for you to try. It is fail-proof! You can throw a handful up in the air and let them fall down like confetti and go from there. The options are endless in how you can do this wonderfully random trick.

Let me know if you have done this before or might give it a try.