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Weekend Assignment: Fast and Furious (Writing)

English: A mechanical kitchen timer

English: A mechanical kitchen timer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some days my words are sluggish little dilly-dalliers. That’s fine if I’m playing around with a new idea or tinkering on a project where there’s no rush. But if I’m on a deadline I don’t have time to coax and threaten those words into existence; I need them NOW. For those times, timed writing is my friend.

Setting a timer and writing in a mad dash is often all it takes to get the creative juices flowing again. In fact, it works so well it ranks right up at the top of my list of writing tricks, which is why David Masters’ post: How to Write Fast (A Short Introduction to Speed Writing) on Freelance Switch caught my attention. Well, that and his claim to be able to write 2,000 words per HOUR. And guess what? He uses a timer!

I immediately knew I wanted to use his post as a springboard for this weekend’s writing assignment. One of the key elements to Masters’ speed-writing approach is to ask a question you will answer as you write, that is where our assignment will begin.

What question do you want your writing to answer? Will Bob buy a chicken? What’s the best way to change a tire on a busy highway? How do I love thee? Whatever the question, open a file and type it at the top. Next, set a trusty kitchen timer for at least 15 minutes (30 or longer if you have the time to spare). Press start and write as quickly as you can, without stopping, using the question as the your focus. (For more tips, be sure to click over and read the entire post. Masters offers some helpful hints on how to keep the words flowing.)

Granted, the drafts you generate using this technique are likely to be rougher than usual, but at least you will have something to edit. After all, you can’t fix a blank page.  Which brings us to the second part of this weekend’s assignment: When you’ve finished your speed draft, let it sit for a bit, then turn your editor loose on it to polish it up.

Until next time, happy (and fast!) writing!

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