How it Works

Each week, for half an hour, we get together to write. A subject is chosen by plucking a folded strip of paper out of the heart-shaped box—a container filled with strips of paper about the size of a fortune in a cookie, each with a word or phrase written inside. Jane makes these strips up about once a year, choosing words and phrases at random, and keeps a running list of subjects we’ve written about.

After a strip has been chosen, we set a timer for fifteen minutes, read the word on the strip and begin. The only rule is to write—don’t ponder or reread, just write. Our focus is on process rather than outcome. At the end of fifteen minutes, we stop writing (we allow ourselves to finish the word or sentence we are putting down at that moment) and then share by reading aloud—the one who chose the word that day reads first. Writing practice pieces aren’t meant to be changed in any way and generally, after reading them to each other, we don’t read them again.

This is a valuable technique for accessing levels of awareness that usually remain hidden. And although it can be done alone, the additional feature of writing with a friend offers its own rewards.

The Heart-Shaped Box filled with strips of folded paper
The heart-shaped box, filled with folded strips of paper containing word prompts.