The Twenty-Eight Hour Day

Sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that needs to be done. I’m feeling the pinch pretty hard right now between the day job, edits from my publisher, and finishing up this urban fantasy. My poor family doesn’t know whether I’m coming or going, lol. Hopefully they’ll remain understanding until my deadlines lift around mid-June. Until then, we’ve been living on Stouffers Pizza and take out Chinese food. 🙂

Since I can’t turn twenty-four hours day into twenty eight hours, I’ve had to be a little creative with how I spend my time. Sitting down for three hours to focus on one writing project isn’t very realistic right now. (I’m not sure if it was ever realistic, lol). So, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve developed something I like to call the “Ten Minute Method.” If you have ten minutes, then you have time to write.

Now, I know some of you are saying “I don’t even have ten minutes.” Let me tell you, I feel your pain. You can modify this rule to the “Five Minute Rule” or whatever time frame makes sense to you.

So, do you have ten minutes to spare today? Yes? Good. Then try following these simple instructions.

1) Unplug your computer from the internet.

This, I feel, is key. Favorite blogs, social networks and emails can easily double or triple your writing time. Even better — if you don’t need your computer, opt for the ‘ol pen and pad of paper. Unplug as much as possible to limit distractions.

2) Focus on one project.

For some of us working on multiple projects, this is hard. Characters from other stories like to visit me while I’m focusing on my current WIP. Tell them that you will get to them after your ten minutes is up. Then load up your manuscript, or open a blank word document. (If you are going to pen-and-paper route, then you obviously don’t need to do this. 🙂 )

3) Set a realistic goal.

For example: I will draft one page (~250 words)

If you write more, great! But we want to make sure we hit our goal. Once you do this a couple of times, you’ll know what you can and can’t do.

4) Set a timer.

Sometimes working against the clock gives you a sense of urgency and propels you forward in your WIP.

5) Write!

Don’t stop! Stay focused and keep going until the timer dings. If you feel your mind wander, look at your timer and tell yourself that you need to stay focused only for the next — insert time here — minutes.

6) When the timer goes off, give yourself a reward.

Congrats! You’ve gone ten minutes! Did you reach your goal? I think most of us will find that we will write/edit much more than one page if we focus our energy.

In short, it’s amazing how much we allow ourselves to be distracted. We have no time for writing, but we have time to socialize on facebook, or watch our favorite show on TV. One of my critique partners mentioned that she has become much more productive with her writing now that she has a day job. It didn’t make more sense — how can one be more productive with less hours? But through having a day job she learned that she used to waste a lot of time on the internet goofing around. Now that her time is more precious, she’s more focused — and more productive.

Don’t forget to give yourself a reward for hitting writing milestones. You don’t have to aim high. A little bribery goes a long way with me. If I know I can watch an episode of Trublood *only* if I finish my current chapter, it’s surprising how fast I can write, lol.

You don’t have to aim high. If all you write is 500 words a day, then in 6 months you can have a completed single title length manuscript. Push yourself and see what happens.

So tell me, have you ever felt that you don’t have enough time to write? Tell me about your tricks to stay on track! How do you meet deadlines and still stay sane? 😉 I want to hear about it!

2 Responses to “The Twenty-Eight Hour Day”
  1. Barbara says:

    I’ve learned to step back and look at my year. I know from experience that I have my most productive time (September through December) and my least productive time (May-August). During my least productive part of the year, I allow myself lower goals. During my most productive time of the year, I push myself beyond all reason because I know the dry spell is coming. LOL

    Your ten minute method would help me tremendously in the summer months when I have to write in quick spurts of time between all the kids’ activities. I’m definitely going to try it out!

  2. Susan Blexrud says:

    Great advice, Suzanne. I know so many writers who feel that if they don’t have a huge block of time to sit at the computer, they completely blow off their writing. Doing it in small increments works for me. In fact, sometimes the words flow best when I’m on a tight timeframe. Thanks for the great post!

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