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Write a scene in 30 minutes

In a recent interview by Joel Chafetz, author Jack Remick, talked about how learning Natalie Goldberg’s timed writing technique totally changed his writing.

Remick who is a poet and author of the novel Blood, among other works, said he learned to use timed writing to craft his scenes. He breaks it down as follows for a 30-minute timed writing session:

  • 5 minutes on setting, place, time, season, temperature
  • 5 minutes on character description and problem
  • 5 minutes on action and dialogue
  • 5 minutes on Intruder
  • 5 minutes on Climax and Resolution
  • 5 minutes on Hook to the next scene down the line

He doesn’t set the timer for 5-minute intervals but he carries the story in his head as he’s writing. He says it’s not easy to get to this point but the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Remick advises, “If a writer works this way, in just a short while, you will be able to write any scene at any time and have it fit into the flow and ebb of the story without much dithering.” He wrote each scene or section of his novel in these thirty minute sessions. His start line is always: “Today I’m writing about…”

A big fan of timed writes myself, I noticed lately that I’ve been working more on the computer and less with pen and paper.  As I mentioned earlier this week, I had a problem getting past a certain chapter in my current work so I took Remick’s advice, pulled out my notebook and pen and dusted off my timer.

It took me a few sessions to get in the flow. At first, disciplining my mind was like trying to tame a roomful of wild, naughty monkeys. But, as Remick promised, the more I did it, the easier it became.

Eventually, I came up with a metaphor that really resonated with me on a level I wasn’t expecting. It’s a simple line in a scene, but I realized the layers of meaning behind it, how it mirrors the larger theme of my story, and how it also reflects the fighting spirit of my protagonist.

If you want to be inspired to take your writing to the next level, I recommend reading the entire interview and visiting his website.

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