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Exercise: Need an idea? Try a free write.

Stream-of-consciousness exercises are a great way to overcome one of the hardest parts about writing: getting started.

Free writing is a technique that comes in handy when you’re having trouble choosing a topic to write about, or when you can’t manage to make it past that first sentence or two. It’s also an effective way to combat self-critical thoughts and anxiety about deadlines.

Here’s how it works:

First decide how long you want to free write for, then set a timer. Five to ten minutes is a good start, but feel free to challenge yourself with a longer session.

Ready? Go! Don’t prepare anything — just start writing everything that pops into your head, regardless of how nonsensical or bizarre it is. Don’t even bother with grammar and punctuation — just keep your fingers typing, and don’t stop until the timer goes off. (If you find yourself on a roll, by all means, keep writing!)

The final step? Analyze the results.What sentences catch your attention? Did you find a new way to articulate what’s on your mind? Did you remember something funny or interesting? Did you explore a new perspective on an issue?

Remember that free writes don’t have to generate lots of usable content to be valuable. They’re simply intended to help you generate new ideas, organize your thoughts, and get unstuck.

Here’s a ten-minute exercise to get you started (use your browser’s back button to return to your work after time is up). If you give it a try, let us know how it goes!

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  1. I really loved it. Gonna use it a lot cause when i right a post i never really put much text. Great if you want to stay concentrated on something.

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  2. That was interesting … HOWEVER, when my time was up, a blank screen popped up telling me to hit my BACK button to return to the writing page. There was no BACK button (greyed out). I couldn’t get back to what I had spent ten minutes typing. 😦 I even tried the Backspace key – nothing. Gone.

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  3. It conked out on me too, but I cheated and used the last 2 seconds to select all and copy, thus the writing (however far from stellar) has survived despite the lack of a back button. I was on Google Chrome, Erica.

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  4. This is going to be fun. I hope to meet with some dyslexic’s just like me. Being on a computer takes hours of time trying to decifer what and where to go. Google drove me nuts and Yahoo is close but Microsoft, I live the simply life, we usually do not understand what you are saying ont the site.Let me explain. Yes I can read. But I cannot understand.If my daughter reads it out to me I understand and it is in my brain forever. Now over the years I have talked myself into understanding some things. But the Sheldons of the net have not come to understand that life could be easy if they only showed us instead of tell us what to do, Example:
    click-tools-click-internet options-click- delete cookies.
    Oh well there will be a time when some bright spark will make it easier.

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  5. Rachel Zoe and Rodger Berman.

    Two beautiful people who are celebrities just had a baby. I wish them well. What made me even write this blog was the astounding amount of money they were paying for their leased home $22,000 a month.

    Yes the house is lovely, but I am old and have made mistakes that they may never have.
    I just wanted to give some advice. I know that all the mistakes I made maybe a help to the young people. Youth they say is wasted on the young and the reason is they have not had to face any disasters yet in their lives when it comes to money. They think they will always be in the young zone, and they don’t think of the boring part of life, like food, housing, and future money. Life seems so great and nothing could happen! Well it does.

    If you are spending $22.000 a month on a house it might as well be a mortgage. With a mortgage you are not throwing your money away but putting it toward your own home.
    There is also the chance that you will not always have a job. While you do, save and make a future so you do not have to worry about your family. Be sensible and buy what you can afford. Then work up to bigger and better. If you have the money now maybe you can buy a home without a mortgage. What peace of mind there is when you do not have a mortgage it may not be the one you want but you have a roof over your head and you can always look forward to bigger and better.

    You have a new baby so I would get the Gerber life insurance for the baby that will pay for University, just in case work has been slow. That will be one worry that you do not have to think about.

    Remember life has a way of kicking you in the butt, and there may be a time when you do not have a job and so with a roof over your head and no mortgage life would be easier.
    Having to pay rent would be another burden.
    If you have a mortgage make sure it stays the same rate through out, don’t be swayed in any way or you could end up with a huge mortgage and no money to pay it.

    Life is wonderful and when I was young the first home I had was an apartment with nothing in it and my husband worked on the rigs. He was home for 3 weeks and away for 4. It was the most wonderful time of our lives buying second hand furniture and making it our place. We lived right by the sea in England, and after 32 years we are still together.
    Every new chapter is a new memory.

    Youth now speed through life and want want and end up with nothing.

    George Clooney bought his house in Italy and paid for it cash down. He said if his work all came to an end at least he would have somewhere to live.

    Ed McMahon the side kick of Johnny Carson show was in his 80’s and was not able to pay his mortgage. I find it hard to understand that he would still have a mortgage.
    Donald Trump stepped in and he lived in his house until he died at the age of 86.
    Here are some celebrities that went through bankruptcy, and some managed to rise above it and make good. It is not a sin to be bankrupt it is a learning process.
    Latoya Jackson ,George McGovern, Randy Quaid, Kim Basinger, Toni Braxton, Francis Ford Coppola, Tia Carrere, Bjorn Borg, Tom Petty’s, Debbie Reynolds, David Crosby, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Michael Jackson , Cyndi Lauper, Natalie Cole, Larry King , Gary Coleman, Nicolas Cage.

    Don’t be one of them. Money comes and goes but bills always remain. You can have it all if you plan for it, and don’t give you money to people who rent, and make sure you know where your money is going never let other people sign for you when it comes to paying out .

    Rachel Zoe and Rodger Berman I am excited for your life together and all the wonderful times you will have if you only look at the needs and not the wants. Yes you can have wants when you can pay for them. Love Suzy

    Susan Oliver

    My Real Estate Wealth Version 2

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  6. I met this idea a while ago – it’s quite fun, and very good to do as an occassional exercise, if you lapse in writing regularly.

    I use a website write or die.

    Controls are a little way down the column on the right side – set number of words target, or time target, and severity of chastisement … have fun 😉

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  7. Free writing was a bit stressful but it works. Like anything – including art – sometimes it is just the discipline of doing something that brings forth the idea or fruition of an idea.

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  8. Ok … it’s a year later and I just discovered this timed exercise 🙂 …. smh … I’m so slow. Tried it and actually discovered where my passion is. I’ve started writing projects and completed them but I always feel like there’s something else I can’t put my finger on. Not sure I’ve actually nailed it yet, but the freewriting helped me focus.
    I liked having that link available. I know that I could just as easily buy an egg timer, or set my microwave, but either one would require me to move outta this chair. 🙂 Sounds lazy? Well yeah … and probably borderline adhd or ocd or something. Because as soon as I leave this chair, I’ll veer off into doing something else.
    Will you have that freewriting exercise link available for people like me who need convenience? If not, how difficult would it be to create a timed exercise like that?

    Thank you for the focus!

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