Northshore Wordsmiths is a Burlington, Ontario writing class and critique group composed of novice and experienced writers who meet bi-weekly to share their expertise and passion for the written word.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stop-watch Writing

“Quiet! And smile.”

POOF! Sparks showered everywhere, as the magnesium camera flash exploded in a blinding eruption of light. I slid the sepia slide out of the camera. There she was, one of the first female prospectors and her family. The travels she must have been on; steamboat, bus, dogsled…

What can you create in five minutes?

At Northshore Wordsmiths, we often preface our writing critique sessions with a five minute free-flow exercise using a variety of prompts to trigger the creative process. 

The prompt is presented, the stop-watch engaged, and the class is off and writing. That is, until Jim yells "Stop". The sound of scratching pens turns to sighs and expressions of regret that there is no more time to write; we have each gone to a place of inspiration that we don't want to leave. As we round-table the reading of our work I am always surprised that the prompt has taken us in so many different directions. 

The excerpt above was written by John Wilkinson in response to a photographic image prompt. As in this example, so many of these triggered writing spurts result in quality stuff that we did not set out intentionally to write. 

These can be set aside as fodder for future short stories, or integrated into our major work. So, if you havn't tried this type of triggered free-flow writing exercise, get out a stop-watch and a random photograph or other prompt, and see what you can write in five minutes.        

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