Write the Most Terrible Stuff You Can

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on a group of writers chatting on Twitter. I’d never really done much with Twitter, never really knew what to do there, but I checked out the chat (discovered one of my Facebook friends there), took a deep breath and responded to a few comments. It felt so good that I made a point of attending the chat again yesterday. (You can find the chat on Twitter at #writechat every sunday afternoon from 3:00 until 6:00 pm ET.)

One guy mentioned that he made a point of writing every day. He said he was afraid if he stopped, he’d have a hard time getting started again. I told him it was a realistic fear since that’s what happened to me. I also said I was recommitting myself to blogging since it wasn’t as big a commitment as writing a novel or even a short story, and that I was hoping eventually I’d get in the habit of writing fiction again. Then another writer (Suzanna) suggested I commit myself to ten minutes a day. Suzanna told us about Natalie Goldberg’s idea of wild mind writing. Pick three words at random, then use those words to write for ten minutes without thinking. Just write terrible, boring things, the most terrible you can. According to Suzanna, it is not about speed, it’s about continuity. Keeping the pen moving.

This really caught my attention. Last year I did NaNoWriMo in the hopes that I’d find the place inside where the wild words live, but I never did.  I did do some respectable writing, so the month wasn’t a waste, but it didn’t accomplish what I wanted. Before that, I followed Julia Cameron’s idea of doing morning pages. Again, I did some respectable writing, but no wildness came of it. But ten minutes a day? I can do that, and I plan to do it for sure. Tomorrow maybe.

Click here to read Suzanna’s article about wild mind writing: Take a rest in your imagination

9 Responses to “Write the Most Terrible Stuff You Can”

  1. The Write Stuff Says:

    That’s a great point. I think writers should try to write every day. Thanks for the tips!

    Brittany Roshelle

    The Write Stuff

  2. Sonia Lal Says:

    I think we were in the same chat! I remember you (or someone?) saying they were recommitting themselves to blogging.

  3. Jen Says:

    I do this with the writers’ group I lead as the final event of our meetings. I get 3 people to each give a person, place and thing, and we have five minutes (due to time constraints) on the clock to write whatever comes to mind. The stories that evolve are amazing. Some are funny, silly, off the wall, as well as great lead-ins to possible short stories or novels. It blows me away to see what the mind is capable of in such a short amount of time – if we give it the chance and open the thought process.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I actually did the exercise today, and I am still smiling. I guess I need the prompts. When left on my own, I just stare at the paper and try to think the words on the page.

  4. joylene Says:

    I blog regularly, so I don’t think this would help. What I need is some discipline. Or maybe it’s energy.
    I’m checking out Suzanne’s article now.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The point of the ten minutes a day is discipline. And fun. And energy. I even did it today! And I had fun. Made myself laugh, which is a very rare occurrence indeed. And so I felt energized. Actually, you just had a new book published. You seem to have discipline enough

  5. Suzanna Says:

    Pat,
    I’m so glad you have forged ahead with the wild mind playground. I’m going to start #wildmind Wednesday on Twitter just to offer some “home base words” for more timed writings.
    And I love what Jen said about opening the mind. So much imaginative power is waiting under the surface of us all.
    Keep the pen going!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Suzanna, that’s a good idea! I had some old puzzle magazines with find-a-word puzzles, and cut out those words, placed them in an tea tin, so now I have a box of words to pick from each day. I really did enjoy the exercise. Oddly enough, I actually came up with a cute story, which I’m going to post tomorrow. And all in ten minutes. Well, more like fifteen — the timer didn’t go off. Amazing!


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