May 10, 2007

Fast writing

A technique I sometimes apply for eliciting internal solutions is a writing technique I call 'fast writing'. I took it from the book Accidental Genius by Mark Levy (2000). It goes like this:
In this private writing technique one is asked to write for 10 minutes straight without interrupting, without worrying about grammar, or spelling. In other words: write like you think. Part of the deal is that other people never get to read what you have written. Writing for 10 minutes straight is harder than it at first may seem. If you get stuck and don’t know what more to write you can use attention shifters. These are questions that help you find new angles so that you may find new things to write. A few examples of attention shifters are: ‘What is the most interesting thing I have written so far?’, What would a really wise person think about this topic’, and ‘What would be a totally different way of looking at this?’ When people do this writing technique it often happens that they are amazed about what they have been able to produce within just 10 minutes of time. While they are writing one can often see a sudden smile on faces. When we ask afterwards what that smile was about, people often say things like: ‘I suddenly had a great idea’, or ‘I suddenly looked at the situation in a way I had never looked at it’.
I apply fast writing both in individual situations and in team situations. For instance, if a team is stuck on an issue, you can invite them to write for 10 minutes and afterwards invite some of their ideas. You'll probably have a few great ideas to talk about.


  1. Coert,

    I bought the book because I wanted to see how this man uses fast-writing. I used to do it all the time and somehow stopped. Now I'm back to using it again and I can say that it's one of the simplest techniques but also very powerful.

    I also think that simple methods like that can easily get overlooked for more sophisticated and complicated techniques unfortunately.

    So how do we overcome people's admiration of complex things to get them to regularly practice simple methods?

  2. Hi Rodney, it's a nice coincidence that just before I read this comment I finished a post about complexity and simplicity. Maybe it holds a key to an answer to your question?


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