During our months-long stay-at-home, many of us are thinking this might be a good time to do some writing. You may think–I always meant to begin my memoirs, or try writing a murder mystery, or wax philosophical. But there seem to be distractions and reasons not to begin.

Our son, Joseph, introduced us to an effective way to overcome such creative inertia. It is referred to as the 750-Word Exercise. There is one simple rule. Begin writing about a topic of interest to you and keep writing about it in one sitting, non-stop, for 750 words—no more, no less. If you are like most writers you will find that the first 250 to 300 words will represent your current thinking but following those initial words you should enter a freestyle writing where you don’t know what will come off your fingertips. But keep writing anyway until you reach 750 words (approximately 3 pages). Then take a break and come back to it in a day or two and see what you have. You may be surprised at where your free thinking led you, and hopefully you have something worth developing further. It might serve as a section for a coronavirus journal, or the beginning of a piece of fiction, or a more reflective piece.

We encourage you to try this 750-Word Exercise. And let us know what happens if you do. (Note this blog posting is only 233 words. Oh, well.)


  • Julie Ritter says:

    Norm this is a great suggestion! Thank you for giving encouragement and a guideline!

  • Ingrid Ault says:

    I have a commitment to write a piece and have been having trouble jump starting. This is just the encouragement I needed. Thank you!

  • Janet Kreger says:

    What a very good idea. I’ve been writing up a storm, and drawing tiny abstract pictures, and having virtual dinner zoom calls with friends, and reading, and getting adequate sleep. I know we’re in a global pandemic and there is suffering all over the world. While I know this, I still allow myself to realize what a fruitful time it’s been for me personally.

  • Hugh says:

    Great advice Norm. It works. I used a version of this strategy to complete my PhD according to schedule. I would make myself write something everyday. Sometimes it would be stuff pertaining to data analysis, literature review, or just my reflections on what I was doing. Bottom line is I wrote most days and I am happy that I did.

  • Susan Van Allen says:

    This is super advice! I am writing a few articles for a genealogy newsletter and this will definitely help! And speaking of the newsletter, I would love to reprint your blog with correct attribution. Are you comfortable with this? Please let me know when you have a moment. Thanks and stay well!

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