One of the best ways to move your writing forward when you feel stuck is to set a timer and just write your butt off for 15-30 minutes at a time. Don’t check your email, don’t stop to edit, and don’t even pause to think. Just let your fingers fly, no matter what words pour out.
When you’re done, take a short break — maybe 5 or 10 minutes — then hit it again.
This exercise may feel forced at first, but after a few rounds, your words will begin to flow. And, if you keep at it over a period of days and weeks, you may find that you want to use these “sprints” for virtually all of your writing. That’s certainly been the case for me.
In order to use this technique, though, you need a timer of some sort.
You could use a watch or an old-fashioned egg timer, but this is the digital age. Why not use something a little more high-tech, like a web-based timer?
There are plenty options available when it comes to web timers, but one of my favorites is The Marinara Timer.
The Marinara Timer features three different versions, all of which can help you reach your writing goals.
The Pomodoro timer supports the traditional Pomodoro method — work for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, repeat those steps three more times, then take a 15-minute break.
To use this option, click the “POMODORO” button …
… then “START POMODORO” …
… then write until the bell goes off.
If you don’t like the standard “Ding” alert tone, you have other options:
Sometimes, you don’t have two hours to devote to writing, or even neat 30-minute blocks. In those cases, you can use the Marinara Custom Timer instead of the Pomodoro option. To get started, click the “CUSTOM TIMER” button …
… then use the “+” sign to add your timed periods. Here, I’m alternating five-minute rest periods with two writing periods of different lengths:
Finally, click “START TIMER”:
You can also set your sequence to repeat indefinitely by checking, “Repeat timer sequence forever”:
Finally, if you just have one small block of time available to you, you might want to use the simple Kitchen Timer, accessed by clicking the “KITCHEN TIMER” button:
Then, enter your available time and click “START TIMER”:
You again have options to change the “ding” tone and to repeat your timer indefinitely.
Putting time boundaries around your writing sessions can do wonders for your word counts, but you need to make sure you’re actually obeying those boundaries.
The Marinara Timer will help you do that with no muss or fuss … and it’s free!
Also published on Medium.