The Five-Minute Writer (by Margret Geraghty)

Margret Geraghty has written more than one book about writing as well as a number of other publications. I have two of her books, and have dipped into them both fairly often. But this year I was determined to read some of my writing books in full, so I embarked on ‘The Five-minute writer’ at the end of April…

It’s a series of fifty-eight writing exercises, each one designed to take about five minutes. I thought, when I started reading it, that I would manage a couple of the exercises every day (I even assigned a notebook specifically for it) and finish within a month. I finally finished it today after skimming the last few sections. It’s not that it’s uninteresting - far from it. But it’s really not the kind of book to read from cover to cover, and I found that I quickly became bogged down in the exercises, and the need to write something at times when I wanted to relax and read.

Each exercise is preceded by a page or two of explanation and examples, and I found many of these helpful reminders about writing styles, or triggers for short stories. The author covers such diverse topics as ‘turning points’ (looking at times when we changed direction in some way), using colours to help demonstrate emotional states, different ways of looking at characters, brainstorming names… something to suit almost anyone. I even picked a couple of the exercises that piqued my interest particularly, and adapted them to use in the local writing group that I belong to.

I thought the book was very well-written, and liked the informal but instructive style. Most of the exercises were thought-provoking and achievable, if not always in as little as five minutes. I expect I’ll dip into the book again when I need inspiration, or something to prompt me to write. But I’m not in that place right now.

Recommended to anyone wanting some ideas to get started with writing, and prompts to spend at least five minutes each day on something creative and, at times, unexpected.

Review by copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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