Imagine making progress on a massive writing project in as little as twenty minutes! Actually, one of my writing students told me that she had gotten into the habit of sitting down and writing every time she put food into the microwave oven until the timer went off. “You can get a lot of writing done in three minutes,” she told me. It’s true – once you know these exercises.
Perhaps the word “exercise” is misleading here, because all of these techniques are helpful not just as writing practice, apart from your real writing projects. They can also be helpful in giving you content you can directly use in your actual writing projects. Some people use them for warmups at the beginning of a writing session, to activate the connection between the mind that thinks things up and the fingers that write.
If you’re a serious runner, you most likely stretch for several minutes before you go out on the road or the track. So why not have a warmup routine for writing as well? Someone in one of my seminars told me that she got started every morning by typing the Gettysburg Address (“Four score and seven years ago...”) Not too long into those set words that she had memorized, she would always segue effortlessly into her actual topic for writing.
I want to advise you, also, not to expect that you’ll click with all five of the exercises. Give them an honest try, but then notice which ones seem to work best to get you going. I certainly have my favorites and others that I never use, but the ones that I don’t particularly like, other people are so grateful to be able to incorporate into their creative process.
From here on, it’s best that you listen at a time and place where you can be sitting at a computer or in a comfortable chair with pen and paper.
In the next lesson, you’ll try out a procedure called freewriting.