Finding the gems is easier than you think.

If you read the blog posts earlier in the week, you’ll know that free-writing type practice is invaluable for developing the imagination and as a warm up for your writing time. Writing begets writing. Once you have mastered timed free writing, your brain is ready to move on to something with a little more focus. I like to call this exercise Mindful Musings.In Mindful Musings, the rules are basically the same, except that you stick to your topic. For example, I like to free write about my work-in-progress.

  1. Keep writing until the time is up. If you can’t think of anything to write, write “I don’t know what is happening in this scene,” until an idea pops into your head.
  2. Don’t think. Allow your mind to run free. The focused part is only that it involves your character in any scene that you choose to write about.
  3. No Editing.
  4. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar.


In Mindful Musings, I like to write for fifteen minutes about the next scene in my work-in-progress. It’s a lot of fun and a great warm-up for my writing time. In this exercise I write whatever comes into my head about where the character is, what she is thinking and what is actually happening. It’s like a flowing brainstorm. I don’t worry about whether or not it really works in the story, I just keep writing. Inevitably, I learn something about my character and her situation that I didn’t realize before. Not everything I write and sometimes nothing I write will show up in the actual manuscript, but by the time the fifteen minutes is up I have a much better understanding of my character and what I want this scene to be about. It never fails to provide inspiration.The main thing is to have fun with it!

This type of exercise works for pretty much any kind of writer’s block. After Winds of L’Acadie was published I had a terrible time getting The Journal written. I kept hearing the editor’s voice in my head. That won’t work. That’s really boring. Not plausible. Not exciting. Poor word choices. On and on it went, making me more frustrated and more blocked. Now, I simply pick a scene I think I’d like to include somewhere in the novel. I don’t worry about transitions. I don’t worry about what it’s supposed to sound like. I just write. Without stopping. That’s how you find the hidden gems.




Published by Lois Donovan

Author of historical time travels, THE JOURNAL and WINDS OF L'ACADIE, Lois is in demand as a speaker/presenter at literary conferences and young writers' conferences and teachers conventions. Lois grew up primarily in Riverview, New Brunswick, but has called Calgary home for many years. Currently, Lois enjoys life in Calgary with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law.

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