August 10, 2011

Forcing Time to Write

For a control freak, I'm surprisingly bad at managing my time. During the years that I've been writing "full time," I've repeatedly set up a writing schedule, stuck with it for perhaps as long as a month, and then regressed to my normal inclination to do anything other than write.

You see, I very much enjoy having written. More often that not, I enjoy writing while I'm in the process of doing it. But I almost never believe that I will enjoy writing. As a result, my struggles with writing are largely struggles against avoidance.

I've blogged before about using a timer to trick myself into writing. Part of my latest productivity scheme involves scheduling blocks of time for writing and breaks. I write -- and only write -- for 50 timed minutes, take a break for 10 minutes, and repeat. So far, it's working well (I say with complete awareness of the pattern discussed in the first paragraph).

I'm using a Mac application called Alarms to keep track of the 50/10 sessions. It's a neat little app, and I recommend it, but of course there are plenty of options for timing yourself. What I like about Alarms is that it easily lets you schedule multiple alarms at once.

I've found that if I know the clock is already running on the next block of time, I'm less likely to bargain with myself for "a few more minutes." With all the alarms pre-set, I stick to breaks of only 10 minutes. I also stop writing after 50 minutes so that I won't lose my break. This means I'm more likely to leave off in the middle of something interesting, which improves the odds that I'll pick right up with typing once the break is over.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Randy Susan Meyers at Beyond the Margins shares passages from writing guides that contributed to My Homemade MFA: "On my bookshelves are over 90 books on writing... I read all, highlighted most, and drove the facts into my brain by writing papers (for myself) on them."


Richard Scott said...

When I saw the title of this post I shuddered. Then, bravely went on to read it, knowing that you could be pinning me to the wall with your words. Wrong again.

I'm very much the same way, and I've got no real excuse. My book is done, save for an important re-write, it has a good future, and some people in the know have shown strong interest. And still, I do almost anything BUT work on it.

Since I've tried just about everything else, I'm going to give your suggestion a shot. I will have to search out a timer for the PC like you describe (heh, so I can avoid writing a bit longer)

Curse you, Lisa! You've almost put me back on track.

(grin). Thank you.

Lisa Eckstein said...

Richard, good luck (and sorry)! I hope it works for you!

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