Thursday, January 12, 2017

FINDING TIME TO WRITE: The Kitchen Timer Method

Dear Kim,

Am I allowed to share all of your good news because your restraint is KILLING me? At least you've shared the STARR FALL BOOK TWO launch with us, but you failed to mention all you have in the works with your SCBWI grant, your VALENTINE'S DAY anthology, and (THIS ONE REALLY KILLS ME) how you find time to write entire drafts in three days.

Do you know someone?

Like a TIME-STEALING fairy godmother who snatches extra time from others (me) and feeds it to you in your writing cave? Or are there other secrets that I don't know about? Frankly I think it is time for you to tell us how you do it all!

Where do you find time to write?

Not going to tell us, eh?

Well since the start of 2017 (I know, 12 whole days) I've found a few things to keep my writing time on track. While not as impressive as your completed draft in three days or your time-stealing fairy, I think these tricks might just help me reach my goals with this new WIP.

One VERY nice person sent me a copy of Lauren Graham's memoir this past holiday. I read it from cover to cover over the span of two nights. (I apologize to my entire family for not being more accessible during the holidays but this book was too much fun.) There's a part in the book where she talks about doing the work--the writing work-- and wonders, like all writers, how to fit it in.

In TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN Lauren wrote about a strategy for keeping writing time honest called the Kitchen Timer Method. The strategy, a secret passed from screenwriter Don Roos to Lauren, grew from the Pomodoro technique of breaking down any task into manageable blocks of time. What I like about the strategy:

1.) I do not have to steal your TIME-STEALING fairy causing a rift among the INKSisters.
2.) It requires nothing more than a timer and a computer (or notepad).

Here is how Lauren does it. (Like I always say: If it's good enough for Lauren Graham, it's good enough for me!)

1. Use a timer (kitchen, app, or otherwise) and set it for 60-minutes. 
                    Check and check. ✓✓

2. Decide on Monday how many hours of writing you will do on Tuesday (and so on.) 
                    I decide on the entire week, but whatever, I am only 2 weeks in so I could decide to pull back and go day to day.

3. During the hour NO: 
                    Phones, texts, or Internet (even for research). 
                    Reading, pencil sharpening, tidying, or organizing. 

Note: "This is your writing time." 
This is no different from BUTT IN CHAIR advice, 
or asking your INKSister to do a writing sprint at 5:30am with you. 

These rules are simply another strategy for organizing our 
CRAZY, TIME SUCKED, CREATIVE minds in our desperate attempt to "FIT IT ALL IN".

4. Open two documents on your computer: your journal and your work in progress. 
                  I open two writing projects: my novel and my Lady Liberty project. I also have a legal pad at the side of my computer.

Note: "An hour consists of time spent keeping your writing appointment."
Switch between the two (or three) open documents until the timer goes off. Just keep swimming. 
I mean, writing.

Note: "It is infinitely better to write fewer hours every day than many hours one day 
and none the next." 
Some days this is the only writing time I have—one hour on the timer. Other days there is revision time and more writing time. Those are dreamy days filled with rainbows and unicorns.

5. When the hour is up, STOP.  
                  If you have scheduled another "appointment", give yourself a break before beginning again. (Could be a multi-hour go to your real-job sized break ⏰)

Note:  "If you fail to make your hours for the day, you have scheduled too many." 
So far I've only scheduled one hour appointments and some days the appointment comes at midnight so it's technically butting into the next day but I've got to give myself permission to do this or, as previously mentioned, steal your fairy.

6. When you’ve fulfilled your commitment: CELEBRATE. 
                   Celebrate? Sure. I actually told my boss my total number of words last week during our status update. Was it awkward? Maybe.

He was all, “And the budget…” And then, “Okay, anything else?
I said no at first. Then said, “I wrote 4500 words last week. Okay, um, bye.”

I should mention we were on the phone for this update and that I really did focus on the first part of the conversation. You know what else I should mention? It felt great to share this accomplishment with him. (And now you.)

Kim, I know this strategy isn't totally new but it is new to me for this NEW YEAR. I am sticking to my appointments and getting words on the page. I've also signed up for a class with Sarah Aronson to help keep me going (more on that later). I think between these two commitments: my Lauren Graham appointments and Sarah Aronson lectures I've found a rhythm for writing in 2017. AND NOW! I've said these commitments out loud (well, online) so that too will help keep me honest about my writing time. 

Please tell your fairy godmother I said HELLO!
Much love,