Blog: Spambot Word Salad Writing Prompts

So, my New Year’s Resolution is to write more.

One of my favourite writing exercises – which I’ve inflicted on various creative writing groups and workshops I’ve run is Spambot Word Salad Writing Prompts.

It goes like this: when I did creative writing at uni (UEA, don’tchaknow), they were very fond of creative writing prompts which went ‘this thing – ten minutes – go!‘ No editing, no agonising, just write something. Here’s your prompt to set you off, now get it on the page and see where it goes. I call it a splat-draft.

It’s a good way of breaking through writer’s block because you’re not setting out to write the next great bestseller or the poem which will win you slams. It’s just an exercise: here you go – now write for ten minutes – and you’d be amazed what (and how much) you can come out with when you have to. It won’t always be good, but you’re getting ideas down on a page, so the laws of averages mean you’ll write something good every now and again, and at the very least you’re exercising your writing muscles.

The problem is that the examples of prompts in the UEA creative writing coursebook were ‘Marilyn Monroe’ and ‘Garden Furniture’ and ‘Your Childhood’. And I have been told to write furiously about all of them for ten minutes multiple times. These random prompts don’t get better with repetition.  If only there were more interesting, diverse prompts which you didn’t have to think up.

I’ve worked in digital media for the past five years, and fighting the tide of spammy bullshit has been part of my job from the get-go. Quite often you come across things which are complete gibberish: just a computer programme shoving together any two words to make a screen name or an email subject line. But often the two words are funny, strange, or intriguing:

  • Beautiful Question
  • Ruthless Forrest
  • Yummy Shoe
  • Bamboozle Gotcha
  • Welfare Darkness
  • Dinosaur Electrocute
  • Various Fairies
  • Deranged Blossom

I started writing them down for the splat-draft exercise, and kept them in a big word document. When I’m running a workshop I print them out, cut them up into lots of little slivers of paper and get people to pick two out of a hat. If one prompt doesn’t set your mind off doing something then the other almost certainly will. No two are alike and they’re probably going to get your mind going in some direction. ‘Deranged Blossom or Yummy Shoe. Pick one and write. Ten minutes: go!’

So, if anyone is interested, here – below, are some of the weirdshit two word combinations which spambots have come up with and I’ve noted down. I recommend writing (freehand) for ten minutes  on any number of them – set a timer – and then either discard the draft, edit it into something better, or – if it’s really taking off for you – keep writing and see where it goes. I’d be fascinated to see some of the results if you feel like sharing. Stick ’em in the comments with a note of which writing prompts set you off.

  • Boorish CV
  • Lacking Outlaw
  • Offbeat Outfit
  • Unsuitable Maniac
  • Ethereal Jellyfish
  • Candy Sniper
  • Boundless Impulse
  • Salty Sky
  • Fragile Toad
  • Lowly Neck
  • Humorous Ideal
  • Spicy Eyesight
  • Byebye Ogles
  • Internal Remorse
  • Chelsea Virgin
  • Incandescent Dusty
  • Drunk Cadre
  • Aware Account
  • Pretty Mercenary
  • Light Sisters
  • Rough Apples
  • Round Visitor
  • Measly Pavillion
  • Wrathful Tycoon
  • Cool Doctrine
  • Aberrant Woman
  • Juvenile Prison
  • Marked Gas
  • Pumped Dodo
  • Light Shame
  • Busy Education
  • Crabby Nurse
  • Hurt Silhouette
  • Jittery Imbecile
  • Alleged Universe
  • Deceptive Sink
  • Acceptable Jar
  • Exultant Talisman
  • Foolish Effect
  • Hallowed Intro
  • Fertile Core
  • Quarrelsome Hour
  • Overrated Loser
  • Old Route
  • Lively Event
  • Educated Malpractice
  • Plant Zero
  • Curly Nurture
  • Weak Dignity
  • Statuesque Frame
  • Decisive Example
  • Ceaseless Perfume
  • Glossy Disaster
  • Incompetent Corpse
  • Gentle Neophyte
  • Industrious Grimstone
  • Temporary Mecca
  • Descriptive Sink
  • Typical Foresight
  • Unusual Record
  • Aggressive Chickens
  • Supreme Sky
  • Sudden Goose
  • Obscene Duke
  • New Cobweb
  • Fanatical Coward
  • Crabby Chair
  • Absurd Homicide
  • Psychedelic Kit
  • Meaning Philosopher
  • Chivalrous Ace
  • Sincere Yesterday
  • Obsolete Beach

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