Monday, July 25, 2011

Prime Your Writing Pump

In the days when people had to pump their household water, they learned a little trick to get it flowing well. Pour a little bit of water into the pump and it seemed to inspire the darned thing to spew forth quicker and with a good flow. One of my great aunts lived on a farm in the southwestern corner of Minnesota. As a small child, I delighted in the pump on her kitchen sink. At home, in the big city, we had a boring faucet we turned on and off. But this pump thing fascinated me. I stood on a kitchen chair and Aunt Jane showed me how pouring that bit of water in it made the pump work better, and then she let me work that pump handle up and down. Small things amuse small children. As true now as long ago.

Writers would benefit from priming the pump a little, too. My friend, Linda Carlson, introduced me to the perfect website to do exactly that. It's called One Word and takes only one minute of your time. Each day a new word is posted. You are given one minute to freewrite anything that pops into your head after looking at the word. When the minute is up, a bell rings, but you're allowed to finish the sentence you're writing at that time. Then you push the submit button and your minute-write is posted.

You may never do anything with what you've written, but it can serve to prime your pump. It gets the writer juices flowing, so take advantage of that and get right into a writing project. Or, you might want to use that one minute freewrite to start a new project.

You do have to register and set up an account at One Word, but it's free and fast so don't shy away because of it.

How about the rest of you? What writing exercise or advice do you have for priming our writer pumps?


  1. Several times I have used a word or phrase overheard in a conversation. For instance, you hear people say, "I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning", meaning it's their excuse for being in a lousy mood. I would twist it around and write about the impact of getting out on the right side of the bed.
    Thanks Nancy, for that memory. I too remember priming my grandparent's pump.

  2. I like the idea, Barb, of taking the positive side of a saying that may have a negative connotation.