Writing Exercise: Priming the Pump

Image courtesy of the NaNoWriMo hive mind on the Internet

Sometimes, somedays, you just can’t get started. You and the blank screen pixels have become one. Maybe you are between works. Maybe you are coming off of editing. Maybe you don’t know where to go with the work in-progress (WIP). Maybe work was exhausting. Maybe you suffered a loss, an argument, you’re sick – mind or body or emotions just ain’t working yet.

And sometimes …. sometimes there is just nothing.

You may need to Prime the Pump. Just do a simple little exercise of 100 words. That is all you got to write. One hundred words. Maybe with 100 words you can write 100 more. Once the brain gets moving in one direction, it continues moving.

Collect a couple ideas and set them aside in a “Prime the Pump” list. You need to prepare in advance, because you likely won’t think of anything when you are in the middle of the ennui.

Examples for the list would be:

  1. 100 words of a character fault
  2. 100 words of a scene description
  3. 100 words of a motion like a kiss or a punch. Whatever is the next movement the character should be making.
  4. 100 words of why the character in the scene is fighting having the scene written. Dialog between me and him/her.
  5. 100 words of why I think I can’t write right now
  6. 100 words of what the kid did today
  7. 100 words why the spouse makes me happy
  8. 100 words of what I’m cooking for dinner and why I like the idea.

An Excel file should work just fine for the list. These are not meant to be an opus or even a sellable item. Just 100 words to kick start the day of writing. When you hit 100 words, switch out. Save the bit into the Prime the Pump folder with the day’s date and then go to the project you should be working on. Maybe have it already open, so you don’t even have to think about the switch. Just close out on the Prime the Pump file and go-go-go. The object is to get writing anything – so you can write something. 

For date formatting, I would recommend year-month-day format, that way the list appears in date order. Example:

2014 10 22 – Where I sit
2016 09 22 – Want to cry
2019 10 22 – The Kiss

By the way, if priming the pump doesn’t keep the words flowing after the switch out, give yourself permission to stop if you need to. You wrote something. Only 100 words, but if you are heartsick, or stressed, or whatever it is your brain is occupied with instead of writing, trying to write Product may not be happening today.

Give yourself permission because you tried. You actually put words on a screen. You tested to make sure it wasn’t just enough to start typing.

On the other hand, the attempt of Priming the Pump may keep you typing for hours – which is why you tested yourself. You never know which it is until you tried.

WRITING EXERCISE: Create a writing folder for Prime the Pump. Then create a PrimeThePump.xls (Excel) file. Record ten ideas. Write one of them and post it below.


My Attempt: Where I sit when I am typing

Despite the heavy gray curtains, the afternoon sun shines in my eyes and overheats my face, interfering with my ability to concentrate on the computer screen. Glancing left and right , blinking the spots out of my eyes, shelves of books and towers of CDs and DVDs beg me to waste time with them. Studiously ignoring them, I curl my toes against the smooth wooden floors and bang out another 100 words. (72 words)