How to Be a Better Writer: Write for Ten Minutes

How to Be a Better Writer: Write for Ten Minutes — Write RightIf you want to be a better writer, exercise the writing muscles. Give yourself ten minutes in which to write. You could write anything but apply constraints. They force the muscles to stretch and grow. (They might hurt the next day, too, but pain before gain.)

You could start with something banal. Say: Describe the responsibilities of a supermarket salesclerk. The obvious answer takes thirty seconds to write. A supermarket clerk rings up groceries and miscellaneous home goods.

However, pause a moment. Consider how to enter the assignment from a more creative or empathetic angle. Remember, if you worked in sales at some point, what the job entailed. You didn’t merely scan barcodes. You greeted guests. Depending on the role and size of the store, you might have stocked shelves, cleaned public areas, or collected carts.

Employing those details makes it easy to write about something seemingly boring for ten minutes. It also limbers the muscles and introduces you, perhaps, to a new character. Who is this salesclerk? Why do they work at this particular supermarket? How do they get to work every day? What do they look like? How do they act? What are their hopes and dreams? Who waits for them at home, if anyone? Who, who is this person?

Now you’re getting somewhere. You write for ten minutes and discover an, ahem, whole new world, one so familiar that you might overlook it. Don’t. Enter the everyday and see the magic it contains.

Once you tire of “boring” assignments — you can substitute almost any job and environment for “supermarket” and “salesclerk” — use other ten-minute exercises. Consider purchasing a book like Complete the Story or a game such as The Writer’s Toolbox. Use their prompts to get your writing into fluid motion. You’ll enjoy the freedom to write about something other than your novel, poem, or other project. You’ll also experience what it means to be a better writer because you, my friend, are one, so get to work. Use a ten-minute assignment today.

Image: Image Catalog (Creative Commons)