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Tuesday, April 17

Guest Author Christina Lee: Just Give Me Ten Minutes

By Christina Lee

Today's guest fits right in with how to be more a more productive writer, and in fact, her tip works for more than just writing. I put it into practice around the house when I first got this post a few weeks ago, and it's helped me keep up with my chores. I urge you to try it as well.

Christina Lee is a freelance writer for the Sun News and Young Adult novelist repped by Amy Tipton of Signature Lit. She blogs at www.write-brained.com and also owns a hand-stamped jewelry business called Tags-n-Stones, which requires her to stamp lots of letter and words onto pieces of sterling silver. Notice a pattern here?

Take it away Christina...

I was in a writer’s slump recently. On sub with one manuscript, another waiting in the queue to be read by my agent, and I had come up with no less than three new ideas. That in itself was not the problem. That was a goldmine. The issue was my floundering on getting any of them going beyond the first few pages.

I chose the manuscript that seemed most promising, but found myself staring at a blank page day after day. Writers should be energized by the very act of writing, yes? Yet sometimes—during these spaces in between—we have to motivate ourselves to get words down on the page.

I will admit that I’ve always wrestled with first drafts. I’m a much better reviser. In fact, I thrive on the very act of editing. I could alter, improve, master a sentence into infinity. But in this case, I couldn’t revise a thing unless I got words down on the page.

Then I remembered my late Grandma A. She taught me an easy concept that I used for many facets of my life. It was after I complained about the never-ending chore of cleaning my house. She said, “Why waste your family time on the weekends? Here’s what you do. Every Thursday night, set the timer for ten minutes. Clean what you can before the timer goes off. You’ll be amazed by the results. All you need is a solid ten minutes of concentrated energy.”

Once I took her advice, I used it for other everyday struggles. Huge cleaning projects (like the basement), working out, books from my TBR pile, or watching a movie on the maybe list. Most times the same thing would happen. I’d set the timer for ten minutes. In that short amount of time, I’d get into the groove of reading, cleaning, working out, or watching that movie. The timer would buzz and I’d sail ahead.

Grandma’s idea was simple, yet effective. Everyone had ten minutes to spare, right?

Once I remembered Grandma’s advice, I knew I needed to try it with my writing slump. But two rules were necessary. I had to write brand new words. And I couldn’t worry about grammar or punctuation.

And lo and behold, it worked! The timer hummed like a pesky bee and I blazed right on by. I used the timer every day until it was no longer required.

Do you need a timer in your life? You can borrow mine.