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Keep the Pen Moving! Timed Writing Exercise: I Remember/I Don't Remember (Raw and Unedited)

Updated on May 2, 2012
Keep the pen moving!
Keep the pen moving! | Source

This exercise is unedited - typos have been fixed when possible so as not to distract the reader, but the content is left as it was written. I typically do timed writing exercises in a notebook with a pen and paper, but want to show the flow of writing automatically using a computer. This exercise is timed for 5 minutes. Try it at home! I remember/I don't remember is a great tool if you're new to automatic writing. The biggest benefit is learning to ignore your inner editor and getting words to paper.


I Remember/I Don't Remember - 5 minutes

I remember that day by the lake when your lips were on the edge of my jaw and my fists were frozen in a half-clutch, as if wishing there were potato chips inside to distract my mind - which was about split. I don't remember what you said right before you leaned in and the grass crunched under the shift of your hips. I don't remember what the day looked like, only that the sun was there at one point, and then the moon was, or was it? I remember when I saw you stand up for the first time and I couldn't figure out if I liked how you looked or not because you interrupted me while I was reading my book and though I remember the name of the book (it was The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve), I don't remember what book I read after that one, or before it, because I remember you began to fill my days.

I remember thinking I shouldn't like anybody. School is hard and I had stuff to do and I remember that I almost didn't care because maybe in twenty years, would I even remember you? I remember having lunch but I don't remember where and I remember thinking that the next time I write it will be about fruit loops and cheerios and maybe some Einstein, but definitely not about the tall man with the jeans that crunch grass because if you remember, we weren't supposed to like each other and we weren't supposed to hold hands and we weren't supposed to lean under trees in parks at night in the dark where the sun once was that I sort of, kind of, want to really remember. Because if you remember right, it wasn't our time.

And doesn't that always suck?

I remember the slipped notes under tables that were really whispers and not notes at all but they held the same secrets that notes should, folded up tight in complex ways with decorative corners and googly eyes that said "for your eyes only" only I don't remember being able to do that with whispers.

I remember studying my German while you admired my Greek books and thumbed the pages as if you could put your soul in them and I would take the pages out and see your soul laid bare and I could study them, with my Greek declensions, and pretend, like I did with Greek, to understand you.


5 minutes, 411 words - a snippet, a warm up, a pocket of creativity in my day.

Have you written today?


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    • BigSerious profile image

      Christen Roberts Comer 5 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      Do try! The hardest part is not pausing - the trick I use, just write "keep the pen moving" instead of staying still and thinking. Write the first thing that comes into your mind, even if it is just "I have no idea what to write, how in the world is this beneficial?" because it is. Eventually, it pours out.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Intriguing, I will give it a try.

    • BigSerious profile image

      Christen Roberts Comer 5 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      Excellent, Jester! And the more you do it, the faster it flows. Keep going!

    • Jester4554 profile image

      Jester4554 5 years ago from California, United States

      I have a feeling that this will be incredibly useful as I just tried doing it on my own the other night before I read this article. I'm beginning to understand why my mentors recommended I do my best to ignore grammatical and structure issues. So long as I can at least get the heart of my text on paper, I can go back later to reinforce it once the skeleton has been laid bare.

      Terrific hub, reminded me of the advice I'm constantly being given put in perspective!

    • BigSerious profile image

      Christen Roberts Comer 5 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      That's a great one. It's reminiscent of Anne Lamott's idea to "write an inch" - pick a 1x1 inch picture and write about it, detail by detail. Thanks for the idea!

    • kennynext profile image

      kennynext 5 years ago from Everywhere

      Taking a picture and writing a story about it usually cures any block

    • BigSerious profile image

      Christen Roberts Comer 5 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      Thanks for the votes, Pamela! Writing with a theme in mind is a great idea. I, too, have discovered many great stories in my writing exercises. Letting go releases some untapped creativity. Always a rush to see it. ;)

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      This is a great exercise. I do this exercise in writing sometimes and have good outcomes. The first time I did it, I chose the theme 'Memories of Grandma K'. So many untapped memories came to me. I wrote a story which took on a life of its own. I got it published that year. It's a great tool, this kind of writing. Voting up, awesome and interesting.