The Page a Day Writers Group

Posts Tagged ‘timers

In a romanticized world writing is supposed to be an organic, let-it-flow, take-all-the-time-you-need process. Ideally, yes! And oh, how we love it when hours of writing time stretch before us. Hours to luxuriate- or wallow- in constructing one sentence after the next. But many of us don’t have hours a day to devote to writing. Or we might have hours but find ourselves puttering around the house/garden/bookshelves/Internet, chatting with the dog or accepting invitations to coffee from other procrastinating writers, running “essential” errands, only to put on our writing hats with a mere 25 minutes left. Sigh. Guilty as charged.

But last week I remembered a day-saving gem tossed into the discussion at one of our Page a Day group meetings, many moons ago. Trish Wilkinson said that she uses a timer to keep herself on track. At the time I thought, “Oh dear, that sounds way too tick-tick-tick for me.” I tried it once and it was too tick-tick-tick for me. Then I remembered that in this techie age I have options. It’s not all tick-tick-tick when it comes to timers!

Cell phones have a reminder alert option; your ringtone is usually more palatable than a constant tick-tick-brrrrringggg! But my favorite is the iPod timer. My mom gave me her old iPod (she’s much more technologically sophisticated than me and has moved on to the next generation device) and the timer has a lovely selection of chimes. Lately I’m using the marimba chime. Looaddlelooaddlelooaddleahh. Ahhh…  This is a much gentler option for me than brrrringggg!

So if I have two hours to work, I might break it down like this:

30 minutes- Read; reading primes the pump and is as essential in the process as writing practice. Chime!

30 minutes- Journal or other writing practice; writing exercises from my craft book of choice or simply freewriting. Chime!

60 minutes- Writing devoted to my novel or short story. Chime!

The beauty of the timer is that I can read read read or write write write until my gentle marimba wakes me from my world on the page. No need to glance at the clock. Beautiful elixir! If the timer is on I feel like I need to stay on task. If there’s no timer, I find myself entering the lounge of ambiguous Maple Syrup Land- a sticky and tempting place to greed out on time-eating this-and-thats rather than spotlighting my goals for the day.  I feel much better about myself in Marimba Land. Thank you, Trish, for the spark in changing my time-frittering ways.

For extra coziness during these winter months I’ve also taken to lighting three candles during my writing time. One for heart, mind and soul. I know it might sound too New-Age-y or ritualistic for some, but it’s so nurturing. Try it! Of course, I can’t take candles with me when I’m at a cafe to write (maybe I should attempt it to see if anyone stops me…) but when I’m at home the act of lighting candles is one more physical cue that I’m committing this time to writing. And it really is cozy. It makes writing time feel sacred. So far I’ve never thought, “Oh, crumb! Time to light the candles again!” Maybe it’s from birthday candles- it reminds me that time is passing and that time to write is fleeting. It also reminds me of fun. Chime!

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

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The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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