Just Write

Get started – how to use writing prompts

Charles de LintGet out some paper and a fast moving pen or set up your computer.

Set the timer for ten minutes.

Look at something  in your room, anything, it doesn’t matter. Now write. Just write whatever enters your head.

Or, open your dictionary to a random page, run your finger down a column. Stop on a word and freewrite, using that word as your prompt.

Or, use one of the prompts in this blog.

Think of this as practice writing, just as a badminton player practices before an actual meet.

Follow Natalie Goldberg’s six rules of writing listed in a previous post.

Try it right now. Paper and pen or computer ready? Glance at your clock. Note the time.  Or set your timer for ten minutes. Write for ten minutes about “trees.” After that, write for ten minutes, using “I remember” as your prompt. Now go with, “What I really want to say.”

Those first thoughts as you start thinking about the prompt is where the energy is. And that’s where you will find the good stuff. The nitty-gritty that means something. As Natalie Goldberg says, “The aim is to burn through first thoughts. Say what you want to say. Don’t worry if it’s correct, polite or appropriate. First thoughts have tremendous energy. First thoughts are the way the mind flashes on something.”

Keeping your hand moving is essential. If you stop to think, your inner critic enters the scene. Write quickly so there is no time to censor yourself. If you get stuck, just write the prompt again and go from there. New thoughts might come up. Or write “What I really want to say . . .” Or write, “the trouble started when. . . ” Keep going, trust the process, your mind will give you something to write about.

If you cross out, you are letting your editor take charge. There is time for the editor to work later, when you are revising. For now, invite the editor to sit this one out.

Do not worry about spelling, punctuation and grammar. You are the only one who will see this writing, unless you choose to share it. Don’t lose the thoughts that are propelling your writing energy by worrying about grammar.

Just write.

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