Pencil and Paper

A number of years ago, we participated in a series of workshops given by the late non-fiction writer  Bernard Asbell. There was a nominal fee and a dozen of us met for a couple of hours a night for five or six weeks. If memory serves, Mr. Asbell called the workshops “Breakthrough Writing.”

They were not designed to have you break through onto the Times best seller list. They were designed to help participants break through misconceptions about how to get your thoughts onto paper. He did that by showing people how to separate the creative and critical aspects of writing, at least for a while.  Let’s say you are going to write an article, an essay, or a post on a topic about which you know plenty: Three Ways to Increase  Subscriptions to My Blog. Here’s how.

1.      Sit comfortably with a pencil (or pen) and a pad of paper. (No keyboard!)

2.      Set a kitchen timer for five minutes and place it out of sight.

3.      When the timer starts, begin writing. Write at your normal pace.

4.      Caveats: Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, coherence or any of the grammatical bugaboos normally associated with finished writing. No one is going to read this.

5.      Most important. Until the timer rings you must keep writing. If you can’t think of what to write, then write, “I can’t think of what to write” until something comes to mind.

6.      When the timer rings, put the pencil down.

 Breakthrough writing came to be known– and popularized – as freewriting. It really is a worry free way to turn a blank piece of paper into 500 words plus with potential. See a short video here.

 Q: What tips do you have for getting started?




About Bob McCarthy

Originally from the Northeast, I now call Southwest Florida home. I have been a professional copywriter and editor since 1979, both freelance and in house. I have had article published in regional, national and international magazines. Plus, a video for which I wrote the script won an industry award as Best Training Video.
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