What’s a Ten-Minute Topic?

One of my biggest issues with the blank page: where to begin? That hardly makes me a snowflake – most authors are, I think, in the same boat. Whenever I have tried maintaining a blog, I inevitably run out of things to say in relatively short order. Often, when I have something to say, the same rampant pseudo-perfectionism that has caused delays in my books sneaks into those pages as well. As a result, the blog lay fallow for a long, long time.

Then I joined Toastmasters, and was introduced to Table Topics.

In Table Topics, the meeting’s leader asks a particular question. Anyone in the room can volunteer to speak to that topic, but they are only given 1-2 minutes to speak – and no time to prepare.

It’s designed to hone your ability to speak in an impromptu manner. I enjoy doing these exercises well enough, which is why I’m surprised it took me so long to apply it here.

Moving forward, when I have something timely to say – an honest inquiry, an upcoming event or release, or a piece of current events I can’t hold back on – I’ll certainly work to craft some eloquent response.

On the scheduled days that I have nothing current, I will share a Ten-Minute Topic.

I have a list of over 300 prompts to keep me going. Using a random number generator, I select one for the day, then type out as many words as possible on that topic in the next ten minutes.
These topics range from the simple “What’s your favorite song” to the more complex “What would life be like with a 40-year average lifespan” or the more revelatory “Who is the one person you cannot forgive?”

I’ve been crafting a number of these lately, and it’s exciting on a number of levels.

First off, of course, it’s a way to limber up my writing muscles. I’ve been using this as an exercise to get my fingers moving and my mental voice in order.

Secondly, it’s a bit more of a game than a real assignment – what will I be asked today? How should I respond? Can I get more words than I did yesterday?

Thirdly, it’s a confidence boost to see I can average 500 words in 10 minutes when I don’t overthink it – and a reminder that maybe not overthinking the first draft is a Very Good Thing for my productivity.

Finally, it’s a bit freeing.

I’m sometimes given to reserve. I’d like to sound as if I’ve given a great deal of thought to any particular question put to me, whether or not that is true; and I prefer to appear polished when I appear before others. With ten minutes to write and a self-imposed five minutes to edit the post, I can’t be too careful about what it is I say, how eloquent I sound.

So with that, I welcome you to the first of our Ten Minute Topic posts. They’ll be tagged on the menus for easier access and viewing.

Oh, and as to the topics – I reserve the right to put any questions sent in from readers or audience members into that list of 300+ for my number generators. Nothing urgent or really important, of course. Your kind attention is worth more than ten minutes’ ramble, but I do enjoy a bit of back and forth, so feel free to lob the questions to me.

Sound fair?

Then let’s go have some fun.