Write Over The Hump: Outside the Box

Welcome to Write Over The Hump!

I’ve learned, though teaching my “What If? Writing Group” classes**, that timed writing exercises are a great way to bypass the conscious mind and enter fully into the subconscious. Timed writing shuts off the inner editor who sits there saying, “That’s a stupid idea; don’t use such a ridiculous word; who ever said you could write, anyway?” And it gets us deep down where our stories reside, enabling us to bring them into the light of day. We can surprise ourselves with what comes out in timed writing: ideas that contain the seeds of brilliance; words and phrases that lift descriptions into the sublime; and pieces of writing that amaze our readers (and ourselves) and often form the basis of fantastic stories we never would have thought of on our own.

Every Wednesday, I’m going to post a timed writing exercise for you to have fun with. There are no rules other than to set your timer for 10 minutes, start writing and keep writing, no matter where your thoughts take you. Don’t stop to “fix” words, phrases or ideas. Don’t stop to consider alternatives. If you don’t know what to write, write about not knowing what to write about until the timer dings. It may take a few weeks to become comfortable with this way of writing, but eventually you’ll find it second nature to read the prompt, start the timer and just write. Without planning. Without editing. Without conscious thought. Just pour those words onto paper, virtual or otherwise.

Some of the exercises will resonate with you. Some may not. But it’s important to do them as they are, because they are structured to enhance specific skills. Here’s a tip: I use the pictures from Tarot cards and Power Decks in my classes to help students who like or need a visual jog to their creative centers. The exercise provides the direction, the picture on the card provides the spark that ignites the imagination. Feel free to use any type of artwork/photographs in conjunction with the exercises, if you’d like.

You’ll be amazed at how fast your 10 minutes speed by. And you’ll probably be amazed at how much you will eventually be able to get done in only 10 minutes. Sometimes it will be impossible to stop after only 10 minutes, but try to discipline yourself to do so. And if you’re used to timed writing, or want a really challenging challenge, give yourself only 5 minutes for each prompt.

The “you” in these prompts can be yourself, a character in one of your stories, or a character you make up just for the exercise. The interpretation of the exercises is up to you. Use them as the basis of a scene in one of your stories, let them stand on their own as flash fiction, or let them become something new to work on. Or any combination. Each exercise has a specific aim, be it stretching your imagination, developing characters, defining settings, adding depth to your writing, working with point of view, etc. While you are having fun writing, you will also be learning or enhancing skills that will make whatever you write even better.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that these timed writing exercises will help you:

  • Access your subconscious mind where your best ideas reside
  • Shut off the annoying inner editor that makes you second-guess yourself
  • Allow words to simply flow onto the paper without interruption
  • Focus and stay focused
  • Move in directions that your conscious mind would never consider
  • See connections that are invisible to the conscious mind
  • Sharpen the skills needed to lift your writing to the next level
  • Juxtapose opposing ideas into new concepts
  • Make the best use of your writing time
  • Add depth to your characters and stories

So join me every Wednesday for “Write Over the Hump” and gift yourself with 10 minutes of extra-special, creative writing time. And let me know what happens! I’d love to see what you’re coming up with each week.

**The “What If? Writing Group” classes and exercises are based on my *****Write It Right: Exercises to Unlock the Writer in Everyone***** series, available on Amazon Kindle. See my Publications Page for further information.

Write Over the Hump

This week, let’s think outside the proverbial box: Look around the room and pick out three pieces of furniture. Use those three pieces in your writing, but not as they are intended to be used. Set your timer for 10 minutes and begin to write – now!


Let me know how you used your three pieces of furniture.

About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.