Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

September 1, 2006

Nonsense as inspiration

Filed under: writing — secretmojo @ 3:55 am

Word salads are a blast. They are a writing game of my own invention, based on a symptom of schizophrenia. I use them to inject a little (okay, a lot of) non-linear thinking before I bear down and start writing. Try to rearrange the synapses, if you will.

Sometimes I do them solely for self-entertainment. To enter a dream world where words don’t quite match up. Other times I find deep meaning hidden in the randomness of my word choices.

Here’s how I play it: I write structured gibberish. A cut-up without source. Unlike the true schizophrenic symptom, my word-salad pieces tend to have a subtext beneath them. Or, rather, a structure that sounds familiar.

The content, however, is total bunk. Rabbits sealing the colors, ball bearings subduing smirkiness, that kind of thing. Something like LSD without the L, the S, or the D. I continue until a non-verbal pattern or “spirit” takes hold and drives me to the end of the piece. Sometimes this spirit actually becomes a real, fresh idea. My word salads have been utterly disjointed, they have been surprisingly cogent. They’ve offered secrets I’ve hidden from myself, too.

The fascinating part of all this is that usually I arrive at a new idea 90% of the time. Most of them small, but damn, much easier than staring at a blank page for hours, toiling over what the topic of “honor” may offer. And the results are fascinating, if not useful. Sometimes I go back and rewrite my gibberish to make it closer to what I “meant.” Whatever that means.

It’s a jolt, to be sure. But I also pay a price: if I do too many of them, I cannot think in a straight line at all. I jump. I bump. I get clunky and lazy, accepting any mushy idea as valid. And I don’t run the kinds of reality checks before I jot something down, so I tend to write some pretty funky stuff expecting the reader to just “get it.”

But as a temporary boost, sort of like a few hundred CC’s injected into the heart, it does wonders. I haven’t been doing too much of them lately, and I’m the lesser for it.
Here’s an example from my endless collection of word salads. Please realize that this is different from any other word salad, and every other word salad is different than it. It is the way I do it; or rather the result of the way I do it. Yours may, in fact, be much better, wackier, metaphoric, sonorous, imaginative, dull, and so on. I did get an idea at the end of this one; can you guess what it was?

God, when shall it remend? I nought on subsidy for daily shift. For why? So can I at least complicate with the daemons when finally they offer outré? Or would you not like that? What would you do if I did? Punish me? Harm me? This mix has already chaffed my craw. Like rot removing skin, bone revealed to the air, punishment already embraces me. I am tied to the mailbox. Feet missing, eyes but semi-circles of their former selves.

So what? Which horror can you bring me more? Let me help you: place a coffee cup like Tantalus a foot or two away from my sip. Lay a danish on the yellow line of a blur-busy highway. And tell me it is mine, if I leap to get it. Place a nude beauty of ardor to my right, and tell her to serve a cackle in my ear for every ten giggles.

Your wrath is puny, Lord. Though I’d be a dishonest man to say it had no effect. But still, it is puny. For the mind you installed in all of us has acclimation calibration. Samsara is my world, Lord, as serving drinks is to a barmaid. So I choose the outré. You can lick your own cunt, not mine. I defy myself, damn myself. But damned if I’ll tolerate your keen sense of judgement—or is it humor of the Blackest kind?

It’s selfish, sure. “What have you done for me lately?” But you are Lord. Should I hold you to a lower standard than my Earth-bound comrades? Should I emblazon you with gifts and subsequiousness and capitulation and love and all that shit you so greedily desire, with nothing in return? What kind of welfare God are you?

And then to open my spleen and dump it upon the ground for no good reason but that I hungered for a Danish. You’re insane. A psychopath.

And I defy you. My last act shall be the gift of Spark to the world.

See if Your Airiness can compete with that.



  1. I can see that working (it really does for you)… a kind of deliberately nonsensical mishmash freewriting kind of thing. It reminds me of a Kerouac sort of riff…

    Jamming as many mixed metaphors or even the cliches you were writing about together and see what sparks you might strike, or even without those crutches as you seem to do, going at it hammer and tongs until something interesting gets bent into shape.

    This is a strong example that you’ve shown us. It seems to precipitate into a definite direction – a diffident conversation with the Lord – quite quickly. Does it usually work that way for you, or are there times when it bogs or takes longer?

    Anyway… great stuff!

    Comment by fencer — September 1, 2006 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  2. I love the word salad! Favorite line: “Your wrath is puny, Lord”

    Comment by Jennifer — September 1, 2006 @ 10:11 am | Reply

  3. You are inspired!

    Comment by doris — September 1, 2006 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  4. Thanks so much, Jennifer and Doris; it was an act of bravery for me to even post this. One of the qualities of my word salads is that I never quite feel like I wrote them–although I’m always fearful if I display them, they’ll reveal some shameful, core detail about who I am. Like telling someone your night dreams.

    Fencer: thank you for such a huge compliment. “Kerouac” made my head grow two inches larger. 🙂

    Strangely, I had no conscious idea where I was going with this until around “welfare God.” This is rare for me, because it had a throughline from the get-go without my participation. Most start out obscenely disjointed, carry on for quite a while, only later to develop an interesting nugget I can run with. I posted this one because the mental movements within are easier to grok.

    I definitely do get bogged down in the nonsense. That’s when I have to stop before I begin “slurring” my words, delivering truly schizoid stuff. One thing is guaranteed: I will tire of the madness after a page or two. The trick is to entice my brain with an idea before I start babbling uncontrollably.

    Hm, maybe I’ll post a less successful example, even though it may shame me…

    Comment by secretmojo — September 2, 2006 @ 10:33 am | Reply

  5. […] As an exercise in honesty and shame, I offer an example of a word salad gone wrong. If you can bear reading it, notice how I snap out of it, bitch at myself, then try again with riffs on the word “life”—ultimately abandoning the session. […]

    Pingback by Word salad train wreck « Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You — September 2, 2006 @ 11:00 am | Reply

  6. Hehe – great idea. I’m sure all those schizophrenia sufferers out there are glad to have made a contribution to writing!

    Comment by sonael — September 2, 2006 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  7. “As was is was were” — Attributed to Edgar Cayce

    Comment by Jim — May 27, 2010 @ 5:34 am | Reply

  8. Forgive me for commenting on something so old (is that really a bad thing?). I was hungering for word salad and googling led me here. You’re on to something about it being a spark to the fire of creativity, and I’m fascinated that you find it most genuine when you feel it doesn’t come from you. I’ve been thinking a great deal about consciousness and the stream of random thoughts we can seemingly either ignore or access easily. I wonder if it has something to do with a collective consciousness, or as I’d say in my worldview, spirit. Anyway — I love your word salad and thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Jove — April 2, 2013 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

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