Slow Writing

Slow Writing

Slow Writing is an idea dreamt up by David Didau and can be found on his excellent blog ‘The Learning Spy’.

“Over the past few years I’ve been experimenting with what, for want of a better idea, I’m calling Slow Writing. The idea is to get students to slow the hell down and approach each word, sentence and paragraph with love and attention. Obviously, they’ll write less but what they do write will be beautifully wrought and finely honed.” – David Didau

David talks about the need for writers, of all ages, to be aware that they need to think not only about what they write but also about how they write it.

He does this by giving them a series of questions around a particular theme or prompt.

“We have the ability to metacognitively engage with our writing and make decisions about what is likely to sound best. Often we do this at a level beneath consciousness; the questions we ask about our writing are automatic and so well stored in long-term memory that we’re not really aware of what we’re doing.” – David Didau

For many writers, old and young, we are sometimes so busy thinking about what to write that there’s little space in working memory to consider how it might be written. Having these sentence prompts frees up working memory so we can shape our work in a more sophisticated way.

So a set of ‘slow writing sentence prompts’ might look something like this:

  • Your first sentence must start with an emotion.
  • Your second sentence must include at least three adjectives.
  • Your third sentence must contain a simile.
  • Your fourth sentence must be exactly 15 words long.
  • Your fifth sentence must begin with a verb.
  • Your sixth sentence must end with the word ‘sleep’.

Another set might look like this:

  • Your first sentence must contain two adjectives.
  • Your second sentence must contain only three words.
  • Your third sentence must include speech marks.
  • Your fourth sentence must be a question.
  • Your fifth sentence must start with an adverb.
  • Your sixth sentence must be exactly 22 words long.

The scope of what you put into your sentence prompts is endless.

Photo Source

I thought I might try the second set of sentence prompts using this picture. This is what I came up with.

 I opened the dusty, old cabinet.
The hinges creaked.
“Hello young man,” whispered the fourth skeleton along.
“Why don’t you come a little closer?”
Hesitantly I climbed into the cupboard.
Long, slender, bony fingers wrapped themselves around my entire body and I felt myself go weak as my skin and tissue disintegrated.

This could be left as it is or be used as a starter and words added or changed to improve the story. I quite like the idea of using these six sentence prompts as a challenge in themselves.

Why don’t you have a go? Either write some slow writing prompts and leave them in the comments section or write a story using the slow writing prompts above.

Have fun!

Mike Jackson


  1. dante2730dp

    I believe these tools are necessary for editing rather than creating novels or larger works of fiction, in my humble opinion. It would be difficult for me to get an idea from these few sentences.


    1. Mike

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. My take on this approach is that it is an interesting way to get ideas down on that blank piece of paper. As somebody who enjoys writing flash fiction, it allows me to create that very short piece of writing.
      It was originally designed to give scaffolding to reluctant writers to get them to write something without being overwhelmed about where to start.


  2. theprimarybookcorner

    I have tried this and think it is a fantastic idea!! It really scaffolded my weaker writers, and ended up checking they were all confident with the grammatical aims for our year group!

    I’ve just reviewed The Secret of Literacy, where David Didau goes more into this. If you haven’t read it, you should definitely check it out – it is crammed full of ideas!


I look forward to reading your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s