Playing With Words

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One thing that fascinates me about writing is how people play with the medium: making up games and assignments to bring us together.

For example the Napkin Project at Esquire, where cocktail napkins are mailed to writers and then returned, each covered with a scribbled story. Need to procrastinate? Explore the complete archive.

Some of my favorite writers-of-a-napkin include Aimee Bender, Matt Marinovich, ZZ Packer, and Nalini Jones.

Another example is Smith Mag’s Six Word Memoir project. Inspired by Hemingway’s six word story “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” the project compiles six word life stories of any individual. A taste of the six-word memoir form:

“Brought it to a boil, often.”- Mario Batali

“After Harvard, had baby with crackhead.”- Robin Templeton

“Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that.” –Andie Grace

“I like big butts, can’t lie.”- David Russ

“Married by Elvis. Divorced by Friday.” – G.M. Rouse

“He still needs me at 64.”- Armistead Maupin

Lastly there’s always the aptly named Post Secret, where postcards containing secrets are mailed in and collected to be displayed in books and online.


Nina Moog is a writer and director of photography based in Germany. She holds an MA from the University of St. Andrews and an MSc from the University of Oxford, where her thesis focused on photographic representations of prisons. More from this author →