The 15-Minute Challenge
It goes like this:
Sit down at your computer, with your note book.
Clear your mind.
Take a deep breath.
Now, think about what you’re going to write about today.
Write down the first sentence or idea that pops into your head.
Read it twice.
Now, start writing about that sentence. Do not stop to correct, re-read or double check anything. Just keep writing without pausing for 15 minutes.
Why do this?
To prove something to yourself. To prove that you always have something to say about just about anything that you can think of. To prove that you can write, that it does not evade you. Sure, today it may not have been Shelley or Yeats. But you wrote. And in writing you honed your craft, you added to the pile of experience. You had to think about things in a clear, logical way that led to sentences. Maybe the absurdity of your first thought was so extreme that you had to think about stuff you normally refuse to. That’s also good.
Sometimes we need to prove to ourselves that we can actually do what we already really know how to do. Just pushing a cursor across a page with words is one way of reminding ourselves that we are writers. Just filling a page with letters and sentences reminds us of what we do.
If you are blocked, uncertain or confused, use the challenge on some of your ideas. Explode each idea in 15-minute bursts. Don’t get all attached to them. Just do it to see what comes out. It’s a way on unpacking what else is going on in your mind around those ideas. Sometimes an idea gets in the way of writing. It lies like a bite too big to chew, stopping everything else from happening. The challenge forces you to unpack it, roll it over in your hands, see what goes into it, what makes it up.
The challenge is great for poems and songs. 15 minutes is just enough to get down a range of ideas, impressions, images and thoughts that can be turned into a song. It can give you skeletons of short stories. It can give you micro fiction, book outlines, talks, speeches and more.
The more you do the challenge, the less the rationally conscious portion of your brain will interfere… its gets all automatic and familiar. This is when truly surprising things surface from the depths of your mind, like twisted and scary dreams you never remember in the morning. Except this time you’re awake. Positively Jungian I tell you.
Your 15 minutes starts…. NOW!