Monday, May 4, 2009

Timed Writing

I'm sitting here this morning thinking about all I need to get done, but wondering when I'm actually going to get to it all. Many times, I join in a chat room where we do writing challenges for 20 minutes at a time and then at the end, we report back how much work we finished. These challenges have really helped me get a lot done. In fact, I written two books in chat challenges.

Timed writing can work even if you are writing by yourself. Just set the timer and see what you come up with at the end of 20 or 30 minutes. You can amaze yourself at just how much you can get done when you are focused like that.

One of the main things to remember is that in this short time of writing, you're not supposed to edit yourself. Just write. Don't think about anything but what comes next. You can always go back and edit later. Once you turn off your inner editor, you can get a lot more done.

Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn't, but even if you're sitting there writing junk, you never know when a pearl will show up in your writing. If you get stuck, skip that section and just write "add later" and keep going. If you need more research on something specific, then you can type in "fill in when researched" and move on. Just don't forget to go back in and fill that in once you have the information you need. This is one of the big concepts of the fast draft notion. The point is to get it all down and not lose momentum.

Have you ever tried timed writing? It can be a lot of fun and you can surprise yourself at how productive you can be. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Happy writing!


Debra Kayn said...

It works for me if I time myself for 10 minutes, any more than that real life (named hubs and kids)invades, lol. I do find that it helps when forums, blogs, and emails are distracting me. It will keep me focused.

Margay said...

I don't usually respond well to timed writing - I spend too much time worried about how much time I have left. It doesn't usually boost my creativity.

Sierra Wolfe said...

Debra, 10 minutes is good. Whatever amount of time works for you. :D I understand completely about the interruptions. No matter what I do, I always tend to get them.

Margay, yeah you have to be able to forget about the clock. I personally do better in a chatroom, where I'm not the one having to worry about watching the clock. Someone else can tell me when time's up. Also, if you don't set a goal for the time, you just wait to see what you come up with may help. Then you're not really racing against anything, just using that time for writing only. I dont' know if it will help you or not, but it's a thought.

Tierney O'Malley said...

I suck at timed writing. Maybe because I am a slow thinker. LOL I don't do writing challenge with friends anymore because of the kids and husband. However, I sometimes time myself. Works fine with me.


Carrie said...

I did timed writing in classes. It kind of sucked because I had to use pen and paper - talk about hand pain! My arthritis makes me a slow pen and paper writer, so when I actually can accomplish any lengthy amount of writing that way, I'm always impressed that even though my handwriting is so bad from trying to write fast that I can actually read it and know what I was trying to say!

Yes, I got some really great nuggets out of them. I like word count restrictions too, such as those you'd find with Flash Fiction and so on. You have a set number of words (must be that number or little less) or a particular range.

It's nice because for something that short, you focus on one moment in time or one thing and try to describe it as best you can in the required number of words.

If you have them themed to a particular story you're working on, that may be a way of getting a certain scene just right.

Restricted words also force you to make the best word choices you can. You'll use one word instead of five because those other four words may be needed elsewhere.

I hate time limits for test because I am slower thinker, but I don't mind it for writing because, with practice, it can help you learn how to work through moments many of us call writer's block.

Hope this helps!


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