One Exercise That Will Change The Way You Write Forever

Okay, first I’ll give you the very simple goal of this tip:


Let me explain.

At a job — you think about stuff. A specific problem is presented and an objective decision is made based on cost and time and “best” practices.

In writing — you feel stuff. You brain can’t help you find a solution because you don’t even know what the issue is.

The further open the window to your heart, soul, and guts, the more powerful your writing.

As an artist, you are not dealing with tangible problems. You are dealing with emotional problems. Those are undefined and ugly and messy and confusing. You don’t think your way to an answer. You stumble through the darkness and find your way there.

“That all sounds marvelous Todd. Thanks for the imagery. But what good does that do me?”

Fine. Let me step off my metaphysical high horse and back into reality.

The best way to remove the brain from the process is stream-of-consciousness writing.

I learned this exercise once in middle school, didn’t use it for 12 years, and have now come back to doing it every single day. It is a staple of my creative process.

At the risk of losing some respect from you (HA!) here is the first paragraph of my stream-of-consciousness writing from yesterday:

Have you ever seen so many misspelled words? Luckily, I still have permission to be terrible. So do you.

The steps are exactly what you’d expect:

  1. Sit down
  2. Set a timer somewhere between 7–15 minutes
  3. Write every thought that crosses your mind

Do not write with an agenda. Do not write to publish. Do not write for perfection.

Write to write.

Your first thought will be:

“Eww, I’m a freak.”

(That’s okay. We all are.)

Your second thought will be:

“I can’t can’t spell anything correctly”

Your third (and most important) thought will be:

“Huh, I didn’t know I cared about ________”

If you come out of the exercise with one sentence you like, that would be an incredible result. The less you filter, the better. The more you misspell, the better.

Stream-of-consciousness writing helps you find your pure voice. The one you’ve been sitting on for a while but your inner editor kicks down. Silence that clown. He has no place in your mind.

Later, he will come in handy.

But that’s another post for another time.


(More about removing the brain from the creative process starting at 1:13 in this video:

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