Writing well is an art few master and most don't bother with. Your article is a gem: not just good writing but an exercise that will deliver on it's promise for all who take the time to do it. Thank you!
Unleash Your Writing Ability Like Never Before!
Would you believe you can unleash your writing ability like never before? You’re about to experience a concept so powerful, it will revolutionize the way you write- a Writer's Workshop in 3 words and 5 measly minutes!
"TIME and MONEY are at a premium, a whole workshop or one of Judy’s luxurious retreats is just not practical for me."
OK. Do you believe you can find five minutes between appointments, waiting in the car for a child or spouse, or waiting for the pasta water to boil/ the toast to toast? You’ve finished one time-sensitive task five minutes before you have to get to the next time-sensitive task? Suddenly, you can see yourself having the odd five minutes free? Then you've just discovered more than enough time to become a better writer.
You have all the tools you need right now, I'll wager.
Get yourself some lined paper and a pen. If you’re sitting at a computer screen, you can work there. You’re going to do some writing. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt. You’re only going to write for 5 minutes. No one will have to call 911 as a result of this exercise.
Get a timer or use your watch. If you can, set it for a five-minute countdown. If not, put it in front of you and to one side where you can see the lapsed time.
Remember, 5 minutes only!
(Why did she isolate that sentence? Maybe it's important.)
Your powerful writing experience is about to begin. But there are important rules. The first rule is that you must obey all the rules. If you don’t you’ll just screw things up and you won’t get the results you are looking for. The next rule is that you must write as fast as you possibly can for five minutes and five minutes only. The faster you write, the better your writing will be. I know that sounds somewhat outrageous, but after doing this exercise with other writers and my students- I know it to be the case. The faster you write, the better your writing will be.
At the end of five minutes you MUST STOP!!
Next rule, you must not THINK. Difficult for an intelligent person, but I’ll explain. Whatever comes into your head, that’s what goes into this written piece. Don’t edit the thought process at all. You’re telling a story. That’s the only criteria. You are telling a story. Whatever comes into your head, that’s what goes down on paper, or on the screen. You’re not trying to put down a bunch of disjointed thoughts, but don’t let your mind get in the way. You’re just telling a story. Whatever comes into your head should go directly to your pen or keyboard. Remember, the faster you write, the better it will be.
Here is an example of one of the first three-word exercises I did. I picked randomly from the dictionary, and my self-imposed criteria were that I choose a noun; an adjective and a verb.)
pagan/ sticky/ washing
“Pagan origins of Easter may have filtered into our family traditions down through the years, although I doubt Sticky Peeps, cream-eggs, Jordan almonds, fake green grass and chocolate eggs the size of a pineapple were part of our ancestral Rites of Spring. While it's true the Easter egg hunts have flown, because the kids are all grown, we still bought special sweet chocolate Easter Eggs for Casey and Kathleen, (a twenty and a teen!). I even bought a sort of “communal chocolate egg" for us all to share. Easter, above all is a family time in our house. Standing at the sink washing potatoes and listening to my son play guitar was the best part of the holiday weekend for me today. All I ever wanted for Easter happened for me in those few moments hearing him play and gazing out the window. Feeling music must have been a part of many an ancient celebration, I thought …this is our Right of Spring.”
Three Little Words-
Here’s the next rule. You must start your writing with ONE of the three words. So if I gave you ‘smear,’ ‘reputation,’ and ‘rumor,’ you’d have to start writing with one of those three words. You couldn’t start with any other word like It…, A…, The…, Once upon a time…, It was a dark and stormy night… nothing like that. You MUST start writing with ONE of the three words. This is essential. Start with ‘the’ or any other word and, your reader’s eyes will glaze over as they think, “Bla bla bla, I’ve read this all before.
Now, if you want to add an ‘-s’ to the word, fine. Want to add an -ly? Great! An ‘-ing’? No problem. Add any suffix you want, just make sure you start your first complete sentence with one of the three words.
Final rule, the other two words must appear in the first paragraph. Remember, the faster you write, the better it will be. All set? Great! Here are the three words. You must choose and circle one word to start with and begin writing immediately- don’t sit there and ponder. It won’t help and you’ll cause a train wreck! Got your timer ready and set for five minutes?
Start somewhere on this list and pick every third word to get your three words…As soon as you settle on the three words, start writing instantly:
Blue, ship, darkness, rumor, hinges, chairs, Granny, grass, sadly. GO! Write as fast as you can for five minutes and don’t stop until the five minutes are up!
Now BREATHE, and feel impressed with yourself. You did your own POWER-WRITER'S WORKSHOP! Many people write more than 2/3 of a page in those five minutes. If you didn’t, you can go back and try the exercise again later with three different words and you’ll quickly see that 2/3 of a page isn’t nearly that difficult.
Mind you, I’m not suggesting that you can end up with a polished piece of writing at the end of one of these 5 Minute, Power-word Sessions. Powerful ideas and dynamic images will come forth, ready to be revised and reshaped into a piece of writing that will meet the needs or palette of your readers. You will see and feel the difference between this method and the old-style beginning with the word, “The”.
How do I use this exercise to help me write a better blog, or communicate more effectively in my business? Apply the Three Power Words principle to ANY writing task!
FOLLOW A PLAN like this:
-GATHER (AKA, “research”)
Gather your notes; scribble a rough draft; mind map a list or a cloud of words and ideas; sit down with some notes about what you want to say.
Determine Who this piece is for, and What will attract them. Scan your notes for the 3 MOST POWERFUL words that cause this “story” to begin to form. Choose one of those words and start writing. Use the other two words SOMEWHERE in your PURPOSE sentence or paragraph, depending on what you are writing.
-STAY ON MESSAGE
Keep checking in with your POWER WORDS. Are you staying on message? If not, focus again on your audience and the purpose of this piece. With a little imagination and three power words to start you off on the right foot, you can be the powerful writer of your blog, your school paper, your pitch for funding, and/or your newly-discovered untold story. Practice Power-wording and unleash the writer in you!
Learn more about the author, Judy A. McNutt.
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- save time
- more powerful writing
- unleash creativity
- five minute writer's retreat