Friday, April 1, 2011

Writing Whenever You Can

Yesterday, I read the following suggestion on one of my favorite blogs:
I am lucky that I can open a document of an article or chapter at any time and do five or ten minutes of work on it. Many writers tell themselves they need at least an hour, or at least an entire day, or five hours, or a week without interruption, in order to get work done. Some writers say they need the semester to be over and have the entire summer in front of them before they are able to work. Or they know that significant work will only happen during a sabbatical. The problem, then, is that they don't bother with shorter periods of time at all. Because they have in their minds a minimum period, they will never even see if they can get lucky too.  If you have a minimum like this in your mind, then re-examine it. If you need three hours, see if one hour is enough. If you need a month, try a week. If you need one hour, try twenty minutes. Just try it once as an experiment and see what happens.
Thursdays are days when I teach, advise students, respond to emails and take care of administrative issues. There are several moments during the day when I just sit there in the office for 15, 20 or 25 minutes with nothing to do. So I decided to follow this piece of advice and at least try opening my file with the document I'm writing to see if I can add anything to it in those "empty" stretches of time. 

Today, I opened the file and discovered that it had magically grown by almost 650 words. This happened on a day of the week that I usually just give up on as one which is useless in terms of doing any writing. I have to confess that I had been pretty sure that this method wasn't going to work. I had convinced myself that I can only write if I have long, uninterrupted stretches of time ahead of me. It turns out that I was fooling myself. 

All I can say at this point is a surprised and delighted "Hmm . . ." Let's see if the method continues working for me.

9 comments:

Donna said...

I'm a member of the I-need-huge-blocks-of-time tribe, but you have encouraged me! I'm going to try snatching little bits of writing time. Thanks!

Jonathan said...

Yes. It really does work!

feMOMhist said...

I call it writing in the spaces and if you have kids it becomes the only way to get stuff done. The luxury of days for writing is something that passed with grad school for me.

profacero said...

30 minutes. I need 15 minutes to start, but then I can really get something done in the next 15.

Natalie said...

What a great inspiration! I too am of the "Whelp! Don't have an hour today, can't write!" club, so the idea of 15 minutes here or there making a difference is rather thrilling. I'm going to give it a go and see where it leads!

Pen said...

This is interesting. If give myself a time limit of any kind, then I find I actually can't write (if I do, then it's really not much). I get too distracted. That's why I take any time I can get. It's great to know I'm not the only one who works this way.

Clarissa said...

All thanks should go to Jonathan. I got the technique from him.

Jonathan said...

If you think you need 15 minutes to start, you might try writing for 20 minutes. Then you might reduce your starting time to 7 minutes.

Z said...

Trying to speed up all the time makes me get nervous and lose concentration, and I waste time then.
I say, you have to hit your stride and respect that.