Do you ever struggle to start your writing projects? I do. Although I’m a demon about completing my projects on time, sometimes writer’s block slows me. When that happens, a tool that I bought at a dollar store in Montreal often comes to my rescue. It’s a kitchen timer.
Set a timer to bust your writer’s block
Even if I don’t feel like writing, I can squeeze out some words with the aid of my timer set for 15 minutes. I bet you can, too.
Here’s what you do:
- Set your timer for 15 minutes.
- Write for 15 minutes.
- If you feel like it, keep going after 15 minutes. If not, put your writing implements away.
In my case, I’m typing this blog post into WordPress as my timer ticks away.
However, you could spend 15 minutes freewriting, which means writing whatever comes into your head without editing or even correcting typos. That’s one extreme.
The other extreme is spending 15 minutes on a structured project for which you know exactly where you’re heading. For example, you might be writing a white paper based on a mind map that you’ve made of your notes.
Since you can write anything, this 15-minute technique can get you going on a writing project where you are stuck because you have no idea of what to write next—or even what to write about. It can also spur you to work on something that you’ve been dreading, even though your next steps are clear.
The beauty of busting your writer’s block with a 15-minute burst
Most people can stand to do just about anything for 15 minutes. Yet 15 minutes is long enough for you to build up momentum at your task. You may also discover the task is not as awful as you thought. Or you may find inspiration during that 15 minutes. You may end up writing for longer than 15 minutes. I completed a draft of this post during a session that I began with my 15-minute timer.
Fifteen minutes may become the start of an extended writing session. If not, at least you’ve made a dent in your writing goal. You can circle back again later.
What others say about working in timed increments
I learned about working in 15-minute increments from the FlyLady website, which recommends it for decluttering your home. The Pomodoro technique is a timer-based time management technique that uses 25-minute blocks followed by short breaks.
Doing research, I discovered that “Trollope achieved his incredible productivity by writing in 15-minute intervals for three hours per day,” according to “Be More Productive: The 15-Minute Routine Anthony Trollope Used to Write 40+ Books.” That post tells us that Trollope churned out 250 words per 15-minute session. Wow!
You don’t have to use an inelegant kitchen timer like me.
You may prefer a countdown timer on your smartphone or computer. I’ve used the Online Stopwatch website on my PC.
One of my writer friends says she uses a Time Timer, which more visually displays the passage of time and “well known in the ADHD world.”
Looking for more help with writer’s block?
Here are more tips for busting your writer’s block:
By the way, I also use a one-hour timer to help me focus for longer periods of time. I was inspired to write this blog post when one of my timers went missing. That made me realize how much I rely on them.