Sunday, October 7, 2007

This Week in Writing-Five Minute Free Writes

Courage and Craft, a new book by Barbara Abercrombie, is chock full of good, practical writing advice and exercises for the writer at any stage. Based on the course of the same name,which she teaches at the Writers' Program-UCLA Extension, the books focus is on "turning your life into story"~molding the events and experiences of your life into meaningful essays, stories, or books.

In the first chapter alone there were at least several positive writing "igniters," as I call them, ideas to get your pen moving across the page. My favorite is the "five minute free write." Take a topic, a sentence, even just one word, set a timer for five minutes and write without not lift the pen from the paper, or your fingers from the keys.

"Don't think," Abercrombie cautions, "you just write whatever comes into your head. If the subject or word you've given yourself to write about stops you dead in your tracks, you write your way out of it by writing about being stopped dead in your tracks. If you stop to erase something, or pause to think, you'll get in your own way. Even if you're writing nonsense or what you're going to have for lunch, you're writing. And writing leads to more writing."

The five minute time frame seems to allow for the most potent bursts of creativity, the wildest unleashing of ideas and emotions, since we feel some sense of pressure to get everything on the page we possibly can.

Write about the room you're sitting in, get down every detail you can. Write about your first time at the beach. Write about falling in love, or out of love. Write about strong coffee or good wine. Write about snow. Write about the thing that most often keeps you from writing!

Set the timer...ready, set...


Abercrombie also co-authors a great blog called Writing Time, with excellent tips and encouragement for writers of all levels. She's currently posting lessons from her class on Courage and Craft.


Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

The 5-Minute-Write is also fantastic because it doesn't 'feel' like much. So often we're pressed for time or our inner critique is demeaning our belief that we could be productive for hours on end so facing a five minute challenge isn't as daunting.

It's also a great way to combat blank-page-phobia. Facing and conquering five minutes of anxiety builds up your confidence. Once you've done five minutes and have the cogs of your creativity turning on the page it gets easier to say, ok, just five minutes more, five more, five more.

"Courage and Craft" is on my Amazon wishlist. Your recommendation makes me even more eager to get my hands on it as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I might get hooked on "Writing Time". :-) Thanks for the links!

Becca said...

You're exactly "write" about the power of that brief five minute time frame as an incentive. It's certainly less intimidating than setting ourselves the task of writing for an hour, or 500 words, whichever comes first.

I think you'd enjoy "Courage and Craft."

Thanks for your comment :)

Julie said...

I saw your comment to her 5-minute post and it made me smile. I have seen so much growth in you as a writer (as if I could judge) over the past year and a half, and I think it has to do with the time you put in on your morning pages (consistent writing) and your willingness to explore and learn from a variety of sources.

I find that I relate well to BA's style and I'm sure the lessons she is sharing will be good for all of us. I may even have to search our her book ;)

Becca said...

Thanks, Star. I agree, the morning pages writing is hugely beneficial. It's just great practice writing, as is the blog writing. And if there's anything I've learned from 45 years of playing the piano, it's that practice is invaluable!

Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl said...

Great post, Becca! I agree, the more you write, the more you write.... and ... practice makes perfect!

I'm wanting the book now, too!

I'll check out the link, thanks ;-)

I look forward to more great posts (on both blogs).


Becca said...

Thanks, Michele. You would really enjoy this book, I think. She has a great chapter on writing the personal essay.

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