Another good tool in a writer’s tool box is a timer. Just set a timer for a set amount of time. It can be anywhere from fifteen minutes up to two hours. It’s completely up to the writer. Most use fifteen or thirty minutes. I’ve been known to go up to an hour. Usually, for me, it’s a half hour. I try to write as much as I can in a half hour. It helps if you also have a topic to write about.
Timed writing serves two purposes. The first is setting a time to write. The second is stimulating the writer’s mind to write SOMETHING. The trick is to not expect anything good. It’s like NaNoWriMo, what you get from the exercise is something you can revise into something someone will want to read.
So pick a topic and set a timer. Then write until the timer goes off. See what you have to work with. Then do it again. Write until the timer goes off, without reusing anything you have already written. What you will end up with is more to add to your piece. This is piecemeal writing, I know, but you can blend the pieces together into a cohesive whole. Just match up the pieces and revise until you get your story, essay, or whatever. In my case, it’s usually a blog.
I’m not saying this works every time. It doesn’t. No writing trick works all the time, but it does work consistently enough to keep it in mind for the next time you are stuck. It works well on writer’s block, but only if you don’t use it too often. I think my mind gets wise to me when I use it too often and then the technique doesn’t work as well. That could be just me though, you may find it works all the time.
It works for me by creating a sense of urgency. There is a danger though of the sense of urgency paralyzing your mind and you get nothing out of it. Should that happen, don’t push it and try something else. Usually, if you sent the timer for a long enough time, you can get something out it, whether or not you can use it. Think about what you want to write and then start the timer and write. You might just surprise yourself.
I confess, I use a form of timed writing when I write in my journal. I tell myself I will write until the top, or bottom, of the hour and just go for it. I often get a good sized entry for the day.
You can use timed writing as a warm-up exercise, too. Just set the timer and write until it goes off. Then start working on the piece you want to write. Sometimes all you need is the push to get the words flowing and they come out as you need them. No matter how you think you will use this tool, keep it in your tool box. You’ll be glad you did.
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