'Example of a Timed Writing Exercises to Improve Your Creativity and Output: I Remember/I Don't Remember' Essay

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?