Monday 29 April 2013

Y is for ... YOU CAN DO IT

So today is the 29th of April, which must mean that it's the twenty-fifth day of the A to Z challenge.  I've decided to share my love of writing through this challenge, and hopefully introduce people to the world of Oulipo.  I first heard about Oulipo when I was at university, and I was fascinated by their approach to writing that I decided to delve deeper into the world of experimental writing.

In a nutshell, this group of writers likes to assign constraints to their work in order to push creative boundaries.  Not only is this fun to do (the process of writing something with a constraint really does open the mind), the results are brilliant.


Y is for ... YOU CAN DO IT

Ok, another cheat, but there's no constraint beginning with Y.  So as we are now coming to the end of the month, and the A to Z challenge, I put it to you to give Oulipian writing a go yourself.  If you're interested in creative writing, how about pushing your boundaries and trying something new and "creative".  Don't be scared.  There's loads of help out there to guide you on your way.

And if you're not a writer, you'll be pleased to know that anyone, with any skill, can participate in this progressive movement.

OuLiPo stands for Ouvroir dLittérature Potentielle (Workshop of Potential Literature).

Then there is:

OuArchiPo - Ouvroir d'Architecure Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Architecture)
OuBaPo - Ouvroir de Bande Dessinée Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Comic Strips)
OuCuiPo - Ouvroir de Cuisine Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Cuisine)
OuHistPo - Ouvroir d'Histoire Potentielle (Workshop for Potential History)
OuMathPo - Ouvroir des Mathématiques Potentielles (Workshop for Potential Mathematics)
OuMuPo - Ouvroir de Musique Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Music)
OuPeinPo - Ouvroir de Peinture Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Painting)
OuPhoPo - Ouvroir de Photographie Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Photography)
OuTraPo - Ouvroir de Tragécomédie Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Tragi-Comedy)

Of course, if you don't feel like doing it, you could always read about it.  There are some brilliant books out there on the subject, as well as an abundance of novels and books written using various constraints.
The list could go on.

I know it's a bit late for a New Year's resolution, but why not expand your creative abilities by trying something from my A to Z list, or even inventing your own constraint to use when writing (or painting, or cooking, or whatever you do).  

Paint a picture using only one colour.

© Anthony Giltrow
Cook a meal where the names of all the ingredients consist of only five letters.

Compose a piece of music which uses all but one key, like Angil and the Hidden Tracks' album 'Oulipo Saliva'.  
"The original concept was formed during an after-gig conversation in Barcelona's Primavera Festival, between Mottet and Hiddntracks' saxophonist Francis Bourganel: the idea of writing an entire album based on the sound of brass and woodwind instruments. OK, Bourganel said, let's do it. But don't use the E key, as it's always been a tough one for alto saxophonists! No sooner said than done: Mottet started writing E-less songs, never employing the E chord in the music, or the letter E in any of the lyrics. This idea referenced Georges Pérec's La Disparition (translated into English as A Void, a lipogram novel written under the aegis of the Oulipo)."
(Taken from
I dare ya!  And if you do give this a go, let me know as I'd love to know how you get on.


  1. Maybe I will try the food thing... Just stopping by for the A-Z Challenge. Please check us out and sign up to follow if you like what you see. Juliet atCity Muse Country Muse

  2. I'm definitely a fan. I've enjoyed doing all of the tasks with you, in much more simplistic forms. I love puzzles, and this type of writing has a puzzle aspect to it.

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: