I like to do a little something called “Writing Practice.” I think of it as permission to write as bad as I want. No grammar. No punctuation. No wrong. No right. I dip my writing fingers into the subterranean river of creativity and try to keep up. When the timer rings I stop. Usually.
Doesn’t that sound nice? Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s like running with a side ache. You feel every step.
What are you going to write about? Anything you want. This is where writing prompts are helpful. I have three or four books devoted to this. They are filled with scenes, quotes, questions, and pictures. All are intended to inspire. I recently discovered the one word prompt. It was freeing. I could write about the idea of the word and what it means to me. I could use it in the opening sentence or as a closing punch line. One word can take me anywhere. It felt so easy.
When I feel like I can’t write? Writing practice becomes my coping tool. I set the timer and write about the fear, the anger, or the dark heavy thing in my way. If I’m stuck in my novel, I write about one of the characters and what they want or what they fear. I explore characters, history, or geography until I find what’s holding me back. I have actually pasted sections of my writing practice file into my novel, though usually I just leave it behind and move on.
Once you pick a prompt, set a timer. I usually write for about 10-20 minutes. Don’t think. Just write. Thinking is for later when you’re not writing. Ignore the red and green squiggles. (You’ll have a lot of them.) Do not go back. Press forward. Write complete and utter drivel. Incomplete sentences. Forget about action verbs and past tense. Write a story. Write a painful truth. Write hard. Write until the timer tells you to stop. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be written. Follow your stupid idea and see where it goes. It might be better than you think or it might be worse. Stop.
Then open your novel, your story, your white page, and write.
Feel free to use any of the prompts I have below. I’ve provided examples of my own writing practice. I set my timer 10-15 minutes and try not to stop or hit the delete/back key. Give it a try. You can write in the comment section or copy and paste from a word document. It’s interesting to see where one word or picture can take different people. Remember, it doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be done. Every day. Ready set write!