When was the last time you had an achy writing hand? The kind of wrist-flipper that catapults you back to when you last feverishly wrote in your exams? I have to say, it’s rare for me – being the speed typist I am – but it’s good to be reminded occasionally of the sheer joy of handwriting.
Last night at my creative writing event at the Jubilee Library here in Brighton, I was lucky enough to meet a whole room full of enthusiastic writers.
I started off with a timed writing exercise, following a set of rules. I first stumbled on these writing rules when I read Natalie Goldberg’s ‘Writing Down the Bones.’ She’s also written a fabulous book, ‘Wild Mind: Living The Writer’s Life’. Her idea is a simple one: that is the more you practice writing, the better you get at accessing your creative mind. The idea is to write FAST, in a timed session, with no censorship.
There are SIX rules for writing practice.
- Keep your hand moving. No matter what. Even if you write banana, banana, banana, the idea is that you will outsmart the editor in you which is telling you that this is ridiculous and you’ll get to the good stuff. You must not stop writing for the time allocated. SPEED is everything.
- Don’t cross out. That’s editing as you’re writing. Even if you’ve written something you didn’t mean to. Leave it. Nobody is going to judge you.
- Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Don’t even care about writing straight on the page. Just keep going.
- Be Specific. Use your senses. Use colour, textures, sounds. Use different nouns and verbs to bring your sentences zinging to life. If you write a generic sentence, don’t worry, just make the next one better.
- Lose Control and Don’t think. Stick with your first thoughts, not your thoughts on your first thoughts. Stay with the words you’ve chosen. Follow your instinct. Let it rip. Go where the writing takes you.
- Go for the jugular. If something comes up in your writing that it scary or naked, dive right in. It probably has lots of energy.
The group wrote for ten minutes and I gave them the words ‘The First Time’ as a jump point. All sorts of wonderful tales came out. I particularly liked one woman’s description of her first cigarette and the hellish relationship she’s had with cigarettes ever since.
At the end of ten minutes, everyone had achy hands, but everyone agreed that they felt better for the exercise.
Try it. You might enjoy it.
My next creative writing session is on September 13th here in Brighton. The course runs from 10.30-3pm and is £99 including a gourmet lunch. Please contact me to book your place.