Monday, 18 February 2013

Writing In The Moment

"Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable." Francis Bacon

Image courtesy of graur razvan /
Do you often find yourself staring at the screen for what feels like hours trying to think of the next line? And when you do finally get that line down, does it feel a bit stiff and not quite right? If so, then fear not, you are most definitely not alone.

I recently came across some old free-writes I had done and was surprised by how good they were. Looking back at all my previous writing, it seems that I always write more, and better, when I am working to a tight deadline or doing a timed exercise. It seems that the urgency of the situation switches off the internal editor for a while and instead of thinking about what you are going to write and coming up blank, or rejecting it because it sounds dumb, you just write. You find a kind of rhythm and the words appear on the screen before you have had a chance to think them.

We don't always have a tight deadline to spur us on, but we can use the power of the timer to help create a little urgency.

Try writing down a word or two that encapsulates what you want to write about at the top of the screen or piece of paper and then set the timer for ten or fifteen minutes. For those 10 minutes, don't think about what you want to write, just start writing. Even if you write the same word over and over, eventually your brain will kick into gear on it's own and before long you will find the words pouring out. When the timer has run out you can either stop or, if you are still in a state of flow, you can continue. But, if you have decided to continue and find that you are spending increasing amounts of time stopping and thinking, then walk away for a while and when you come back set the timer again.

How about you? Do you used timed writing to help move a project forward? Share in the comments below or contact me here, I'd love to hear from you.


  1. I use timed writing a lot, especially when it comes to blog posts. A while ago, someone suggested I do about 10 - 20 minutes to get some ideas down and then leave it until the next day for editing. Most of the time it works for me. :-)

    1. Leaving the editing for a later date is always good advice. We need to be more removed from the writing in order to view it subjectively. I'm glad this method works for you too :)