For tonights post I thought I’d share my favorite writing/warm up exercise. It’s called “free writing.” There are several variations, but briefly you select a few random words then use them to write for five or ten minutes. That’s how I still do it, but you could just as easily write about an object or scenario for a few minutes.
The basic Idea is to just write without thinking. When I first heard of the technique I thought it sounded silly. But dangit’ if it didn’t work gangbusters. How’s that for a corny sentence? I always use a timer. The short bursts are key. It forces you to just pour out some words without worrying if they’re crap. Nine times out of ten when you read it back it’s not half bad.
It’s great for warming up, just to get the fingers and the mind shifted into 5th gear. It’s also a great way to start off short stories. Try it, I’m sure you’ll like it. And just as an example, below is my free writing exercise from today. The words were “hallway”, “knife”, and “desk”.
The little girl headed down the hallway. No one gave her a second glance. She didn’t give anyone a look either. Her walk was steady and focused. She passed one desk, two desks. The clerks were occupied with their customers — annuities, bonds, blah blah.
The little girl had no interest in money. Her one goal was ahead, three desks away. A woman in a black and white dress sat very suggestively across from the bank president. He was more than happy to spend as much time as she needed.
The little girl was two desks away. The woman spurted a whimsical line for the President. It wasn’t funny. Didn’t matter. He laughed.
The little girl was one desk away. She smiled. her walk slowed. The Woman tossed her hair, looking over her shoulder. She didn’t see the little girl three feet away.
She didn’t see the knife either. The little girl reached the desk.