Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All About Time and All About Writing - Guest Blogger Greenwoman

Greenwoman was one of my first "fans" for my blog. She kept hounding me to get my blog going. I'll not give the phrase she said, it is a bit, risque. She has a whole guest blogger thing going on over at her blog. (Which gave me the idea of having guests for my blog.) I believe she is the source of the Meme's that are going around! I am happy she agreed to swap blog posts. So Thursday has arrived on Wednesday. You can read my post over on Greenwoman's blog. I'll also be on Cherie's blog this Friday.

Take it away Greenwoman!

SO, Dean has this fantastic blog all about writing, and time management. This is a good subject!

I have a confession to make. I'm TERRIBLE at time management. It isn't because I don't know how to do it--I've read an entire self-help section's worth of time management advice. The problem is that I am undisciplined. No, that's not true. It's worse than that. I'm REBELLIOUS.

"Well then," you're probably saying to yourself, "it's a good thing she doesn't have to work for someone else."

Well yes . . . and no. No, because it means I have no one to feel rebellious toward besides myself. (I imagine there's medication for this. I'm afraid to take it. It might make the voices in my head go away.)

SO, in order to get my writing done, I have to trick myself.
I figure I can do anything for 15 minutes at a time. I can even listen to my kids talk for 15 minutes. So, I employ a timer and a reward system to stay focused. (The reward is usually something like spending five minutes goofing around on twitter or making another cup of tea. I am a simple creature.)

I started using the timer method during NaNoWriMo ( a few years ago. My writing buddy and I would have "word wars": 15 minutes on the clock, type as much as you can, the one with the most words wins. Okay, so you don't win anything, except an opportunity to feel smug. But you take what you can get. After a session was over, we'd spend some time chatting and comparing notes, shake out our wrists, and then do it again.

I wrote 100,000 words in 30 days--all in 15 minute increments. And the thing is, my family barely even noticed I was participating in NaNoWriMo. With short bursts of intense focus, I managed to get my daily writing done in one or two hours instead of sitting in front of the keyboard from morning 'til night.

Over the past two years, my writing buddy and I have inched our sessions up to 30 minutes. Longer sessions are a good idea when editing--it's hard to get editing done in 15 minute increments. And these days, sometimes our check in will go like this:

Me: "Time! How'd you do?"
Laura: "Good! I'm getting this chapter rearranged. You?"
Me: "Good, I'm on a roll. Want to jump back in?"

And off we go again. Sometimes, we even work WITHOUT a timer. Like when we write at a coffee shop or the library.

But sometimes when I'm working alone, I need to go back to 15 minutes. It's a way of psyching myself out. "Yes, I have 4500 other things I also need to do today. So I only have to concentrate on writing for 15 minutes. Then I can do something else."

Usually I only need the timer once. Because usually the real issue is getting my butt in the chair to work, and once I'm there, I don't want to stop.

I use a simple kitchen timer, but there are some options out there for writers like Write or Die (

The great thing about living by the timer is it makes everything feel more like a game. Sometimes I even use the timer for less pleasant tasks than writing. Tasks like cleaning. But let's not talk about that: I'd rather be writing.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trade Dean! This was fun. :)

J. Lea Lopez said...

100k words in 30 days, in 15-min increments? you, my friend, are EPIC! lol That's awesome. I maybe have to try the timer thing. I suck at time management too (as Dean can attest, since I still have not managed to write the guest post I promised him... lol)

Anita Grace Howard said...

What awesome ideas! I mean, having a writer buddy to hold you accountable on time accrued. And timing yourself to begin with. As lapse as I've become with getting in my wordage lately, I might actually have to give this a go. Thanks Michelle!

Precy Larkins said...

I can agree with this. On twitter, sometimes I participate in a #wordrace with writer friends--15 min increments. And guess what? I can pump out at least 500 words in that short time. Which means, in 30 minutes, I'm capable of spewing out 1K.

I love the timer concept. I may have to do that when I'm by myself and not racing with my tweeps. Great post, Michelle!

Hi Dean, thanks for being a guest blogger for me. :)

Dean C. Rich said...

Thank you for having me on your blog Cherie!

Suzanne Payne said...

I use the timer for cleaning and sometimes for writing just because I have so many other things I have to do. Good post Michelle! Hey Dean, maybe you can guest on my blog too! ;)