Timed Writing

Timed free writing as a brainstorming technique can take many forms. This is a valuable tool in your brainstorming kit. To do it, you sit down with your preferred form of writing. Set a timer for the length of time you want, and begin writing what comes to your mind.

For this you can start with a topic and make lists. If you are writing on a computer or your phone, you can choose to bullet your list or not. You can write full sentences or words as they come to you. That’s the free part of the exercise.

So you spend time writing down words, sentences, paragraphs, or a combination of all three. That’s your choice. This exercise lets you write. It’s a simple enough exercise. You don’t need a lot of tools, whaever you use to write tool of choice and a clock or timer.

The point of doing this is to generate ideas. Sometimes you end up with disjointed sentences and lists of words or phrases. Any one of them can be the spark that takes you on a writing journey.

A lot won’t. The key to this brainstorming exercise is to hold the judgment until you finish the exercise. That’s key to all brainstorming techniques. Enter this exercise with the idea that you will produce nothing worthwhile. Don’t discard any idea until you have looked at them all.

Like the mind map, you can do this one on your own or in a group. In a group setting, each member of the group does their own free writing document. It’s easier to do it on your own though. So it isn’t often used in a group setting.

The trick here is to keep writing until the time is up. Don’t stop and read what you have written. Keep writing until the time is up. Remember the goal is to generate ideas. They don’t have to be good ideas. They just have to be.

Once the timer goes off, you can read your work. In a group, this is the point at which everyone reads their timed piece aloud. The group decides what ideas to use and gather the best together.

The work you produce here is not the final product you will produce. It might not make it to the final product. What you are trying to do is start the process. Timed free writing is the best way to begin a writing project. It is as simple as that.

So the next time you find yourself struggling to come up with ideas, give this exercise a try. You might surprise yourself. If you are working as part of a team, your team will likely thank you for this tool.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques
One comment on “Timed Writing
  1. I’ve always done sprints, but this post has given me more insight into the practice. Coming up with lists, mind maps, or even random sentences that aren’t connected to each other could be interesting with the added time constraints. Thanks so much for this inspiration!

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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