How to stop writing – An exercise from Arvon Chair, Jeremy Treglown

Exercises / All / Free writing, Planning your time, Starting to write, Writing habit

This exercise was written by Arvon’s Chair, Jeremy Treglown.

This writing exercise is half an hour, spread over three consecutive days.

Read all this just before you start. You’ll probably want to give names to the characters and may change the historical context, but keep the underlying dynamic of the situation.

Day 1

10 minutes – email off, phone off except perhaps for the timer: see below.

A is dating B, whose Jewish forebears escaped to Britain from Warsaw in 1939. A’s sibling C lives with D, a Polish Catholic who grew up in Warsaw and most of whose family still live there. C has met and likes B but doesn’t know about B’s family background. Now what?

Switch on a timer. Write in any style or form for exactly 5 minutes – 300 seconds.

When the alarm goes off, stop, even if you’re in mid-sentence.

For the next 5 minutes, do nothing – look out of the window, take a nap, doodle, but don’t look at what you wrote until:

Day 2

(10 minutes, as before.)

Read what you wrote yesterday.

Continue or start again, writing for exactly 5 minutes, as before. Stop and do nothing for another 5 minutes, as before. Don’t look again at what you’ve written until:

Day 3

How’s it going?


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