Reading & Writing

Writing Exercise: Two Minutes Out of Control

I am a controlled writer. I have often thought out the words before they hit the page–the first dozen, at least–and they unspool from there in a fairly metered way. I don’t suffer typos (a peeve my smartphone is trying to cure me of through exposure therapy) and I sometimes spend too long deliberating my diction. However, there are times when the writing flows without thinking. These are often the best times. Yes, they might need a bit of editing on the next read and when brought to workshop I have occasionally baffled readers with my oddball phrasing. No, these sentences might not end up in the final draft. But sometimes, whether the words end up working or not, I simply need to turn off my brain and let my fingers fly.

So that’s today’s challenge. Write without thinking. Set a timer for two minutes and simply begin. Don’t go back for typos, if you can help it. Just roll down the hill of your thoughts.

Here’s mine:

The blind eyes are looking at me and I know why. I don’t know why. I can’t possibly know because they’re blind and they can’t see me and I can see them so why am I thinking of them? WHy do I care what they see behind their dulled lenses and the cloud of their astigmatism? What could it matter? The heart, the head, the brain behind them–I suppose they matter. I suppose they smell and hear and ffeel more than I can imagine because they don’t see the way I do, don’t see images or shapes but see smells in a bakery, the warmth of light on their sleeve and the wind coming down the train tunnel. They smell the autumn leaves and feel them crunch through shoe soles, they smell the man who passed who hasn’t showered for three days, they smell all the ripe smells of the city. When have I? When have I stopped with my eyes closed to

Of course, you might want to write more than two minutes. You might want to let the words fly all day! Just don’t forget to get the kids to school, go to work, start the laundry, walk the dog…

You know.


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