Twenty Minutes

I participated in the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s Winter Writing Festival this year, and it was great fun. I loved the support, the encouragement, and the motivation. But the best part? The chat roompintip sprints.

Here’s how it worked: you showed up at the chat room at a designated time, where a Ruby sister was moderating. After a few minutes of chatting, the moderator announced the beginning of a sprint (usually twenty or twenty-five minutes). Everyone worked furiously. At the end of the sprint, the moderator called time. More chatting. Rinse and repeat.

It was amazing how much work I could accomplish when I knew other people were doing the same thing. Moreover, writing can feel like a lonely, solitary endeavor… but the Ruby chat room sprints made me feel like the other writers and I were part of the same team. Like we were doing something together.

Sadly, the WWF is over now, but it’s taught me a very important writing tool that I can use the rest of the year: the twenty-minute sprint.

This tool is especially useful when I’m battling writer’s block. I set my timer and give myself a pep talk. It’s just twenty minutes. Twenty minutes is nothing. You can do almost anything for twenty minutes. Just write for twenty minutes, and then you can take a break/check your email/make some tea. Go!

It works every time. (Well, almost every time.) Although that first session may not be particularly productive, I usually feel more amenable to another session when the alarm beeps. And then another. And another.

Before I know it, I’ve made considerable progress on the scene, which makes me even more motivated to continue.

For me, writing can be a vicious or a rewarding cycle. The more I write, the more I want to write. The more time that has passed since I’ve written, the harder it is to get started. The key, then, is simply starting. The twenty-minute sprint helps me get past that hump. It forces me to write that first word or first sentence or first paragraph.

So thank you, Rubies, for teaching me this valuable trick!

What about you? What tools or tricks do you have for busting writer’s block? I’d love to hear your techniques. Let’s face it: I need all the help I can get. 😉