A memory from my childhood, reinforced by my years commuting in Los Angeles, is a radio tag line: “You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world,” from an all news radio program. Turns out this was the third all news programming, started in 1924, making the radical decision to go all news in 1965. I kind of miss the all news radio programs, but that’s a topic for another time.
Time management people advise us to break down insurmountable tasks into achievable steps. When that doesn’t work, then only take on the impossible job for a short span of time: ten, fifteen, twenty minutes spent on sorting the mountains of old mail and newspapers on the table, or going through the junk drawers. We know this works, even when we don’t always do it.
When Susan Elizabeth Phillips spoke to LERA , she revealed her production secret: a kitchen timer, set to her personal time goal. For that period of time, she writes. Write or Die will help you stick to that time period, not allowing you to step away from the keyboard until your time or word allotment is complete. You do NOT want to upset Write or Die! Several of LERA’s amazing, prolific, award winning authors (we have more than one!!!) use Write or Die.
I bought my kitchen timer, and yep, wrote for those minutes. Until the timer disappeared in a pile of old mail, and my attention wandered off to other things. I tend to do that, all too often.
So yep here I am back again with another session of BICHOK, which is not a new breed of fuzzy dog. It’s Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. And with a bit more understanding of my own foibles.
Since the kitchen timer, once unearthed, did not work, I turned to my cell phone. Sure enough, there is a timer, so I had no more excuses.
Here’s how it works for me when I sit down to write. The family of dust bunnies I see in the corner, which has been in residence for longer than I want to admit, must be evicted NOW. If the refrigerator is not cleaned out immediately I will no doubt starve to death (an unlikely occurrence but still…) And I jump off my writing stool and take care of these issues. Before you know it, I’m out of time, and wondering where the day went.
Fifteen minutes, during which I do not answer the phone, the door, or any call of nature. I think only about my book. I write steadily, sometimes fast sometimes not. Sometimes strong emotional scenes, sometimes puking drivel. Fifteen minutes I give myself up to my story. Then I walk away and do something mindless.
Mindless might mean sweeping up those dust bunnies or washing some dishes. Maybe bagging the bulk box of chicken necks into
daily portions, for the Salukis. Gardening is a different level of consciousness for me. Not mindless, more of a Zen experience. I garden to be aware of what’s growing for me, and to help fulfill my love of color and beauty.
During those mindless times I realize Matt would never have asked Jess anything which might upset her until after she’s eaten breakfast, since she already tends not to take good care of herself. So I know when I go back to their story, I’m going to fix that scene. Which I can, because it’s now on the screen, not just in my head.
Because I gave myself fifteen minutes.