I was on a training course a few days ago and the trainer introduced the group to a writing concept called “Slow writing.” I had come across a version of this on my advanced writing course with Barbara Marsh so it was interesting to see how it originated and how to actually set it up.
Slow writing is about taking the time to think about writing. The writer is given (or self imposes) a topic to write about. Then there are constraints built into the writing. A constraint could be not using a particular letter of the alphabet or not using a particular word e.g. and. Then there are slow writing activities in which the writer must follow certain rules e.g. The writing must begin with a question. There can be up to seven rules involved.
Once the rules are explained to the writing group then the writers can get on with the process of writing within the time limit. This technique allows the writers to produce a “stream of consciousness” but to have certain limitations or constraints on it.
When the time is up, then the writers go back over their text. There could be a further set of instructions here e.g. add commas, change all verbs into the present perfect and so on.
At the end of the writing exercise the writers will have had the chance to write and rewrite their text. It could make the editing process of “free writing” less painful.
I have tried it out on some of my students and it certainly does help them to rework their writing.
There are a couple of useful website for anyone interested in using the technique with writing groups: