A Powerful Writing Tool

Writers are often confronted with the challenge of the blank page.  This applies to writers of all kinds:  screenwriters, novelists, marketers, salespeople, etc.  The blank page is an intimidating prospect.

I was given this tool by one of my mentors, Margaret South, who was the Producer of all of Bette Middler’s movies.  Margaret is a genius with story structure and getting the best out of writers.  This tool is so powerful that I was able to write a screenplay with it.  I continue to use it on this blog and all the other areas of writing that I face.

This tool is not a piece of software or a machine.  It is simple yet powerful.  It is called the timed writing.  Basically, it is just a set of rules that help you write.  Here are the rules:

  1. Pick some amount of time.  In my case, I prefer ten minutes.  It doesn’t have to be long.  In fact, sometimes short bursts of five minutes or so is all you need.
  2. You must keep your pen/keyboard moving at all times during the time you set.  If you can’t think of anything to write, you literally have to write something like, “I can’t think of anything to write.  I am just moving the keyboard.”  And so on.
  3. There is no re-writing allowed at this stage.  Just keep writing.

I usually pick a specific topic before I start this exercise.  For example, I will work on a particular scene in a screenplay or flesh out a character more.  Then I will write for ten minutes.  Usually, I will look at the clock on my computer and write down the time at the top of the page.  As I write, I will occasionally look at the clock to see where I’m at.

When doing the timed writings, it forces you to write past any “writer’s block.”  There is no room for being an amateur that needs inspiration or the perfect settings to write.  It is the writer’s approach to writing.  The writing is far from perfect.  In fact, most of it sucks.  But that’s writing.  It’s about rewriting.

This exercise gets the juices flowing.  As you move your writing implement of choice, your mind relaxes and gets into a groove.  You dust away the murkiness of your mind and find the gold in your words.  You discover wonderful things about your story.  Often, I will go way beyond the ten minutes I set but sometimes ten minutes is all I can muster.  Regardless, if I stick to it and do at least ten minutes a day, over the course of a year, I can accomplish a great deal.

Actions:  Give it a try for at least one month.  Every day as the first thing you do in the morning.  Take out your notepad and pen and write for ten minutes straight.  Get it out of the way.  You will be amazed at what you accomplish in one month with just ten minutes a day.


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