This post is about 500 words and was originally posted on LinkedIn.
If you like to write (or like the idea of writing but hate the difficulty of it), I have an exercise for you to try. I used it to create this article.
Many of us have had those glorious days where the words are flowing to your fingertips faster than you can type. It’s effortless. It’s a wondrous feeling that re-establishes your faith in your abilities and confirms that The Great American Novel is just a few sessions like this from being completed.
Upon your return to the computer, the black reality sets in. There’s nothing. No inspiration at all. In fact, there are days where I’ve been certain that banging my head against the keyboard would produce better prose than the barely-coordinated tapping of my fingers.
This is where my exercise comes in. Trust me, it works.
- Sit down at your keyboard with no topic in mind. Be sure you are uninspired. Be prepared to accept whatever lands upon the page with the understanding that another person never need see it.
- Type. And I’m talking stream-of-consciousness stuff here. I have literally typed “I am typing away because I have nothing to write about and I’m praying it will continue long enough that I will feel I have accomplished something.”
- Don’t think. Seriously. Take the words as they come. To start, your brain will be a few words ahead of your fingers. When you get into the rhythm, your thoughts will be a few sentences ahead (or further, if you really get into it!).
- Don’t edit for content. And don’t edit for typos (except for the ones that will keep you awake at night. See Word Murder for examples).
This might be the hardest writing you’ve ever done. It might also be the easiest. You’ve been released from your creative bonds. Your thoughts can be disorganized and follow any path you come upon.
As I mentioned above, what you’re reading is the result of that exercise. I sat down with no concept of what I would write. And now, I’ve delivered more than 400 words in less than 30 minutes.
I’ve been in this place before. Hundreds of times. You probably have, too. The desire to write is there, but it’s a chore because the inspiration isn’t. I know from experience that this method works. At best, I’ve delivered something salvageable I can edit (this article being a case in point). At worst, I’ve spent time exercising the writing muscles in my brain, which will make the next session easier.
Sit down at your keyboard today and have no plan other than to simply start typing. You might just surprise yourself.
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© Michael Wallevand, June 2016