What would happen if you started to write, and were not allowed to stop until the timer ran out?
Would you be more or less in the zone?
What would you write about?
Would your mind be able to keep up with your fingers, or would it be your fingers that lagged behind?
Let me introduce you to a Writing Therapy tool called Rapidwriting.
The Rapid Writing tool is a highly effective tool in seven important ways.
It can help you to:
- Get into the zone.
- Release pent-up thoughts that you have struggled to surface using other techniques.
- Get what is in your head down onto the page - whatever that might be.
- Put things into perspective.
- Bring clarity to situations.
- View events and problems from a different perspective.
- See things as they really are.
In many ways Rapidwriting is comparable to writing-by-hand as it has many of the same benefits.
Writing by hand allows writers who pen their drafts to proceed in a linear fashion rather than continually being tempted to rearrange words on the screen before they know precisely where the story is going.
- Ephrat Livni, writing for Quartz,
Modern day computers offer many wonderful benefits, but the ability to edit, re-edit, amend and constantly fine-tune our writing is not always one of them.
If you are writing a business report or a work of fiction there may be benefits to these powerful editing tools, but when it comes to processing our thoughts and gaining clarity, a more linear approach, with zero real-time editing definitely has significant advantages.
In creative writing circles this kind of writing has a variety of names such as fast-draft, but for our purposes a term such as brain dump, a term often used in business circles, is probably more appropriate.
The aim of Rapidwriting isn't to quickly create an initial draft of a piece of writing. It is to create an environment in which anything can flow, without editing, censorship or fear. Simply start the clock and let whatever needs to be released, flow out until the time is complete.
This is why it is such a powerful tool?
When you start the process you really don't know what will come out. In a normal writing situation you can pause and consider what comes next, or in what order you are going to say things, but with Rapidwriting you do not have that luxury. You can pause briefly a couple of times, but after that you are on risky ground, as another pause, even of just a few seconds, will instantly see all your writing vanish.
This pressure to keep writing doesn't give you the chance to edit your thoughts. This is why this technique can be so revealing. This constant need to keep writing helps you to quickly get into the zone, and once you are in the zone your mind starts to drop the self-censorship, and those thoughts start to pour out.
At this point is important to stress that the Rapidwriting tool isn't solely for releasing those innermost thoughts - although it is amazing at doing that. It is also a highly effective tool for many other things.
If you are having a problem at work, and you are struggling to come up with a good solution, set the timer for 10 minutes (or whatever suits your needs) and get writing. You'll be blown-away by what comes up, and will often uncover a solution that you had simply never considered.
Another use for the Rapidwriting tool can be to develop the germ of a business idea, into a full blown quantum-shift of an idea. Simply start off by writing an overview about the idea itself, but then carry on. Look at other avenues. Describe markets. Writing about the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. For this kind of in-depth exploration you might want to do multiple 20 minute sessions, with a short breather between each.
But where Rapidwriting really excels is in helping to make sense of life-issues. This can be anything from relationship difficulties through to personality issues, grief for the loss of a loved one, anger at a missed opportunity, regret for something you did or didn't do, and most of the issues that life throws at us from time to time.
Often when you start a Rapidwriting session you might not be absolutely clear about what you are going to write about. This is not a problem. Indeed, it is very much the norm. This is when Rapidwriting can really come into its own as it helps your brain to shoot off in whatever direction it wants. You are simply the high-speed documenter of whatever is coming out.
A word of warning.
The first time you do Rapidwriting can be quite a challenge, as it will probably go completely against the way you have been taught to write, i.e. in a considered, well-thought out, well-written fashion that has few spelling mistakes and is grammatically correct.
When it comes to Rapidwriting all of this goes out of the window. Forget spelling mistakes, typos, grammatical errors. Resist the temptation to hit the back arrow to go back and correct anything. Just keep on typing, without pauses or hesitation of any kind, and definitely no editing. Just leave whatever comes out exactly as it is.
If you do have the urge to correct a though that has just popped out, feel free to do so, but don't do it by editing what you have already written; do it by writing more.
For example if you have just written:
The most important thing for me in a relationship is love
and then you decide it isn't actually love it is friendship then simply continue writing. So might end up with something like this:
The most important thing for me in a relation is love. No it isn't. That might be what I used to think. The truth is what I really value most is friendship. Or it might even be stability or is it passion.
Now you are starting to let things flow, and can't start to review what really is important for you in a relationship. That is exactly what Rapidwriting is all about. It is all about helping you to get into the zone so that you can start to see things differently.
When you first start using Rapidwriting you might want to start off with just a five minute timer, as it can be quite exhausting. However, once you are familiar with this powerful technique, it is a good idea to aim for longer times as it is surprising how the very best stuff doesn't start to flow out until nearer the end. Often your brain needs to dredge-up a lot of sludge, before you start to uncover that hidden treasure.