Timed Writings

I like to do a writing exercise with my students where I give them a prompt and an allotted amount of time to write. No editing, no revising. Just power to the pencil without stopping. If they pause, I tell them to ask themselves, ‘What else?’ I love doing this activity myself. Here is what my last round produced.

1 minute: Tell about a book you’re reading right now. PACHINKO has been sitting on my bedside table for a long time. A very long time. My sister read it and recommended it. My daughter read it and recommended it. The cover looked great. I just didn’t pick it up. I don’t know why. Well, that’s all over. I’ve started and I can’t stop. It is SO GOOD!

2 minutes: What was something you did as a child that you enjoyed? My paper doll families were my pride and joy. My mom and I made them together. I kept them carefully in a shoebox being that they weren’t the hardiest dolls. I liked to play with them behind the couch in the living room. That way I was with my family, but also tucked away with privacy. The best thing about my dolls is that after I gave them names, I put them in families. I was strategic about the grouping, having specific criteria for who went with which. My families weren’t traditional or conventional and I don’t know where that came from, because…

3 minutes:  What is your word of the year? 
Connection of mind and body
Releasing and surrendering
Notions of what I should be
How I should look
Reclaiming my body as my own
For my own pleasure
And my own use
Expressing all that is within me
Yearning to be set free
All that I want for myself
All that I deserve
All that I...

4 minutes: Tell about something you love/hate in your house. Sanctuary. That’s what my house is to me. My safe haven. Intentional. Thoughtful. Whimsical. Reflective of who I’ve been and who I am. It is mine. I make the choices. I revel in my independence. I roam comfortably. It has everything I need and nothing I don’t. I am confident, capable, carefree, creative, cautious and comfortable there. My home is my sanctuary. It is mine. It is where I can be me. And I am proud of myself for…

5 minutes: Tell about a defining moment in your life. Today was different, not like the other days I’d visited her. She didn’t look toward me, didn’t see me. Her eyes gazed straight up at the ceiling. I sat quietly at her head, out of her line of vision. I watched her face. I couldn’t take my eyes off her, like when the girls were babies and I studied their every expression. After awhile, she raised her arms above her, stretching them upward. She spoke, but I couldn’t understand her. This was beautiful, I thought, but terrifying, too. What was I seeing? Again, her arms raised, this time a smile on her lips. Did she see someone? Were there others there calling to her, coming for her? She winced and groaned. Pain. This was new. Something…

I love this activity so much because I never know where I’ll end up. I don’t worry about the right word or the right phrasing. It’s so liberating! Taking out the possibility of perfection allows me to be creative. I know these drafts are just that. A first go, initial thoughts. Maybe I’ll revisit them, develop them, polish them, publish them. Maybe not. But they are worthwhile all the same. Their value is in the expression.

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