7 Minute Story

by limebirdster

Do you ever sit down in front of a blank page, after finally finishing all of your procrastination, and then just find yourself staring at the blank page with no idea of what to write or where to start?

There’s a brilliant exercise that I read a few years ago, in an incredibly good and depressingly short lived writing magazine, that was all about how to choose your first word when you’re having trouble finding one. It’s quick, as the name suggests. It’s fairly simple, and all you need is a book within easy reach. So I thought I’d share it with you.

I remember it every so often and tell myself that I’m going to do it at least once a day to see what interesting new ideas I can pull out of my head. I think I’ve done it twice, but it’s the thought that counts right? No? Well, my intentions were good, I promise!

So, rules of the game:

First – Pick up a book. (Any it book, it doesn’t matter which.)

Second – Flick to a page. (Any page, it doesn’t matter which.)

And finally – Write down a line. (Again, any line, it doesn’t matter which.)

Then, taking that line as your first line, write for two minutes without pausing. At the end of two minutes, find the best line out of what you’ve just written (don’t look at me like that, there will be one!), and use that as a new starting point, this time writing for five minutes.

If you don’t come up with anything good, try it again tomorrow. Or even immediately after. Or, if you’re me, about six months later when you remember. Again, thought that counts right?

So, fancy giving it a go? Have you got any other tips or techniques for finding inspiration when the words aren’t coming?

26 Responses to “7 Minute Story”

  1. I LOVE this idea. This would be a good exercise for older children to do as well. I might suggest it to my kids’ English teacher at the next parents evening!

  2. that’s a really great exercise, thanks so much. Cathy x

  3. Oh this sounds fun, thank you for the great idea!

  4. What a cool idea, will have to give it a try.

  5. Cool idea!

  6. Very cool. I could have used this when I did 50 first lines over the weekend for a contest. By the thirtieth line I was really struggling for ideas. I’ll keep it in mind for next time…

  7. Thanks for a useful trick. It’s low pressure and doesn’t ask for much, which I like. 🙂

  8. Sounds like a great writing prompt! Think it would work with a page from Oprah Magazine??

  9. I’ve found myself staring at a blank page many times, and I’m actually familiar with this exercise. I find most of my inspiration by just thinking of certain memories and either writing about them or developing a story where a similar memory could be placed. I also am most inspired when I’m sad or crying since tender emotions are right at the surface, waiting to be written.

  10. Great tip! I’ll have to keep this one in mind.

  11. Great tip! Another thing that I find helps is to keep a small notebook on me at all times. Writing ideas can strike at any moment! It just happened this morning as I working. All of a sudden a thought started germinating, took hold, and then I had to jot it down quickly so I didn’t forget it. Then I could go back to the work I was doing at the time. Not to mention all the inspiration you’ll find in your everyday life.

  12. What an awesome idea! I think I will give this a try, and when I do, I will be sure to link my results back to this post of yours! Thank you for sharing this.


  13. Brilliant. My imagination would go into over drive with this task. I will do it when I am stuck for a story line

  14. Thanks for sharing this excellent tip! I would try it the next time, I start staring at a blank piece of paper, wondering where my muses have gone to. 🙂 Cheers!

  15. Ooh great post! I can’t wait to try this on Monday =)

  16. Reblogged this on Writing Tips and commented:
    This came from a blogger that I so enjoy following.
    PLEASE MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL BLOGGER’S POSTS. They were kind enough to let me share this wonderful article with you.

  17. I always look forward to your posts.

  18. Great idea!

    Here’s my first go at this…

    Greg Bear – Slant Page 173 The storm shows no signs of abating ‘Have you offered this……..

    ……….. gentleman a complementary ride?’ asked the manager.
    The functionary shook his head, ‘Everything’s out at the moment. It’s the Vernal Festival and the city’s full.’
    I shrugged at the manager ‘It’s OK, I’m used to the rain; I’m not the city boy that I might look when I’m all scrubbed up like this.’ I nodded at the two Thran’kee and headed for the door.

    I then took the last speech but made it internal…

    I’m used to the rain; I’m not the city boy that I might look when I’m all scrubbed up like this. In fact, the rain can be a great cover when tailing someone. Have you noticed how most people keep their heads down, watching the floor? My marks are far less observant when it’s bucketing down.

    True to form, Davidson hunched his back to make himself a smaller target for the pounding raindrops and set off across the road. I checked my holster, the knife between my shoulder blades, and the nanowire spool masquerading as a watch, and then splashed through the night after him.


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