1. Set a kitchen timer for fifteen minutes. Begin to write about a childhood event that influenced you greatly. Don’t overthink this exercise, just let it rip. No editing along the way!
2. Read the piece out loud. Whenever you get interested, as you read, highlight the paragraph that pulled you in. (It’s essential to read out loud—you’re switching from a writer’s viewpoint to a reader’s.)
3. Contract (condense) the paragraph into one sentence, as short as possible, without losing the essence of the larger paragraph.
4. Now expand this one sentence into five new sentences (a new paragraph).
Which was easier for you, expansion or contraction? Think about whether this short exercise helped you see anything about your natural tendency as a writer.
Read the new writing out loud. Can you notice the difference in flow, in music, in pacing?