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A 10-minute Writing Prompt

Because the silence of a writer not writing is among the most deafening, here is a 10-minute writing prompt to get started. I’m offering you 4 different, easy ways to go about it.

First of all, set your kitchen timer (or the timer on your phone if you must) for 10 minutes. This is important! The reason to set a timer is explained very well in Pat Pattison’s book ‘Songwriting without boundaries’:

“Soon, during your timed writing, something like this will happen: Your writing will start to roll, diving, plunging, heading directly for the soft pink and blue glow below when, beep! The timer goes off. Just stop. Wherever you are. Stop. Writus interruptus. All day your frustrated writer will grumble, ‘Boy, what I might have said if you hadn’t stopped me.’ Guaranteed, when you sit down the next morning, you will dive deeper faster.”

  1. Use the online version of the original magnetic poetry kit on your desktop. Drag and drop one word from each line. Don’t overthink it. It’s likely you only need to pick one word from each line. Use these words to start your writing. Stop when the timer alerts you the 10 minutes are over.
  2. Download a magnetic poetry app onto your phone. I’m using Cannonball for no particular reason, other than that it showed up at the top of the list in the App Store and is familiar to me in the way it works and looks. For Android users, try ‘Magnetic Poetry’ from the Google Play Store. As above, start your writing with the words you’ve dragged and dropped. Don’t overthink it, work with what you’ve got. Stop when the timer alerts you the 10 minutes are over.
  3. Buy or find a newspaper or magazine and open a random page to apply the ‘Austin-Kleon’-technique he uses to create his newspaper blackout poems: circle words that pop out at you, then take a permanent marker and black out the rest of the text. Use the remaining words for a poem or as the start of a piece of writing. Stop when the timer alerts you the 10 minutes are over.
  4. Do the same as above using a 2nd-hand book you’ll never read again, preferably in a genre you usually wouldn’t read. Open a random page, circle on word that most appeals to you. Do the same on two more other pages. Write those three words in your notebook and use them to start writing your story or paragraph. Stop when the timer alerts you the 10 minutes are over.

The 10-minute time limit makes this a manageable task. Rinse and repeat as needed. And let me know how you get on using this way of prompting your writer to get started! (Please).

© Sitara Morgenster

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