Part 2 of The 5 Minute Writing Exercise

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3 years ago

This is the second lesson in a series. I highly recommend you read the first lesson to get background, explanation, tools you’ll need, and learn a bit more about me.

Lesson 1

Though you don’t have to do the lessons in any particular order, it is a good idea to start by reading lesson 1.

Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash

Have you ever tried writing in the dark? I like it because it helps me to not edit while I am writing. Writing and editing work best when done separately.

When I was taking art classes in college, our professor had us start each class by doing two 5 minute drawing exercises.

The first was to spend five minutes continuous contour line drawing. The second was blind continuous contour line drawing.

Continuous contour line drawing means to draw the outside edge, the contour, of something without lifting the pencil.

Blind continuous contour line drawing is the same but without looking at the page.

Our professor explained how important it was to warm up before starting a drawing; how important it was to keep your hand moving.

Writing exercises are just as important as drawing exercises. The goal is the same: keep your hand moving.

Another important lesson I learned in drawing class was to first sketch my drawing without erasing. To erase when my sketch was complete.

These writing exercises are teaching you to first draft your story without editing. To edit when your draft is complete.

In lesson 1 you learned about Lizard Brain and Monkey Mind. In lesson two, we are going to (temporarily) blind monkey and let lizard roam free.

Photo by Fuzz from Pixabay

In this lesson, I would like to challenge you to write in the dark. It is also acceptable to write in the dim. It just needs to be dark enough so that you cannot easily see the words you have written. It can be light enough to see the lines on your paper.

The tools you will need for this exercise are the same as in lesson 1 plus a new addition.

  1. Notebook

  2. Ink pen

  3. Timer

  4. Blindfold or dark room

If you are very disciplined (I am not) you could forgo the blindfold and just close your eyes. My eyes always creep open seemingly of their own accord. So I sit in a darkened room or use a blindfold.

It is important to remember that this exercise is about writing without editing.

It isn’t about what you write. It is about how you write it. You may not even be able to read all of what you have written. I often cover words with other words getting to the end of the line and beginning a new line under the first is a challenge when you can’t see. It ends up being an illegible mess.

Those line drawings, and especially the blind line drawings looked nothing like the subject being drawn. They did make for some great impressionistic paintings. Think Picasso not Rembrant. But the uninterrupted contour drawing isn’t about the picture. It’s about the process.

This exercise is about keeping your hand moving.

If you can’t see what you’ve written you can’t go back and erase, cross out, or in any way change it. You will get in the habit of writing this way (without simultaneously editing, you don’t need to get in the habit of writing in the dark!)

Blind writing is about practicing.

Practice makes perfect. Except, I do not believe any artist truly achieves perfection. Every successful artist continues to learn and grow, continues to hone their craft.

I recommend doing three 5 minute blind writing exercises before you begin your writing project.

Just as with lesson 1, between 5-minute sessions, get some circulation going. Clap your hands, jump up and down, sing lalalala, whatever you need to do to get oxygen flowing to your brain.

After you have taken your three deep breaths, open your eyes and set your timer. You may want to set the timer for 6 or 7 minutes, depending on how long it will take you to get blindfolded or turn off the light.

Next, all you have to do is begin writing. If you find it hard to start, you can start with a repeating phrase.

“In the dark” or “I am in the dark”

Write this phrase without looking over and over until something else pops up.

This is what my blind writing exercise looked like this morning (what I could read of it, anyway):

I am in the dark I am writing in the dark my nose itches this blindfold is weird. I used to believe I could make myself completely flat under the covers. I would hide from my mother and get very upset when she found me. I thought she must be a witch. In the dark in the dark My mind wanders in the dark. Tell me what you don’t know. what don’t I know?it is too dark.

As you see from the example above, when I got stuck I simply went back to the phrase “in the dark.” What you can’t see are the lines that I wrote one on top of the other. Something about hide and seek, a closet, and Bloody Mary.

Do blind writing two or three times and then do an “I am” exercise. And remember, these are warm-ups. It can be fun to focus on these 5-minute exercises, but you DO still have a writing project to get to.

Again, please don’t throw away your exercises. We will come back to them for later exercises.

If the darkness and writing take you to a painful place, please do not force yourself to continue. Take a break. Take your time. This is your rodeo. Let’s make it the best rodeo ever.

One more quick note before you get started:

I would love to hear how you are doing with the writing exercise/warm-up lessons. Feel free to leave a response here when you are finished.

Are you ready?

  • Close your eyes

  • Breathe deeply and slowly three times

  • Open your eyes. Set your timer

  • Blindfold yourself or turn out the light

  • And…GO!

    Write for 5 minutes, get up, and jump around.

Rinse, repeat.

Photo by Tyler Nix from Unsplash

As promised to @Glez @Usmanshoaib @CryptoMax

And all the others who read and commented on Lesson 1

@Opi-noora and @Bjorn I truly appreciate each and every one of you. Thanks so much for reading!

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3 years ago


It's ok to build up to the blind writing. In class we did the 5 minute writing exercise for several months before starting the blind writing. Lots of fun shenanigans happened before we could all settled down and get serious. It's also great if you can find an IRL person to practice with. Depending on people's location on the globe, zooming had often taken the place of IRL. That's ok, too.

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3 years ago

I don't think i can but dare not to try means I have already failed. I'll let your know of the results. Great post.

thanks for the mention by the way. I'll save this.

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3 years ago