Some Notes on Timed Writing

(Written 1/92 for SWAPA; lightly modified and Webbed 10/12/95)

At Clarion, I began to like the concept of timed writings, in which you just keep writing no matter what (Donna Jo Napoli, at Swarthmore, always told us to write "um" or "I can't think of anything to write" if necessary) for ten minutes. There are a lot of possible goals for such activity: Emma Bull said it taught her how to open the door to the writing part of her brain on demand, while others have indicated it's a good way to practice just writing without worrying about quality or polish. The first few times I tried it, I hated it; but it seemed like a good way to get back to writing after months of avoiding doing so, so on the bus on the way to work around the end of October of '91 I did a couple of them. The results were not anything I have much attachment to, which makes me secure enough about them to be able to put them on the Web. The only editing that's been done on these is what I did as I wrote them, crossing out a word here and there and replacing it; I didn't change anything while typing it in from the handwritten pages.

Mykle Hansen told me, many years ago, that having ideas for fiction was something you could practice and get better at. To the extent that I believe that, I think timed writing is a pretty good way to practice.

Jed Hartman <>