It was Natalie Goldberg who got us all doing timed writing exercises. Lately I've been thinking about using the same techniques to write fiction. Why not? So many times we sit staring at that white page in front of us, or at the cursor on our computer blinking away up there in the top left-hand corner of our screen, unable to put down a single word, feeling that anything we think up isn't good enough. This exercise is intended to smash through that resistance. Forget about plotting your story before you begin it, forget even who the characters are. Just dive in and see what emerges. (My favourite times at the desk are always when something unexpected happens in a piece that I am working on.)
How this works: Decide how long you want to write for. It can be ten minutes, twenty minutes or an hour. Then grab one of the sentences below (or use your own first sentence) and begin. The only rule is you must keep writing. You are not allowed to stop and think about what the next sentence will be. You must keep your hand moving! Don't think! Don't plan! Just write, not knowing what is going to happen next. Trust your creativity! Trust yourself!
Justin been afraid of clowns ever since his sixth birthday party.
I usually never remember my dreams, but last night's was so vivid, so real.
Lucy stared into the chicken coop and wondered what had ever possessed her to become a farmer's wife and move to this wretched place.