Writing has always been something I’ve wanted to do, and do well.
There’s just one problem–writing is hard!
The whole darn process is hard, but the area I’ve struggled with the most is getting into the flow and writing consistently. I’ve tried setting a daily word goal, but I tend to edit as I write, so getting in a raw word count sometimes felt too difficult.
I’ve tried all of the apps with their different, opinionated writing styles. From WordPress to Svbtle to Medium; Draft to Scrivener to iA Writer; Pages, Word, Google Docs and many, many others, but none of them made much of a difference in either the quantity or quality of my writing.
But recently, I’ve tried something that feels great. It keeps me focused, gets me writing more (and feeling better about what I write), but most importantly, it has made writing enjoyable.
I have a Gilmore Girl to thank for this.
My partner Maria found this technique described in Lauren Graham’s book, “Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), told to Lauren by screenwriter Don Roos.
I love it. It’s simple to follow, tool-agnostic, and easy to get started. Here’s how it works:
- Open two blank documents side-by-side: one you want to write your article/etc in, and one that acts as a journal or notepad.
- Make these documents full-screen and turn off all notifications (your phone, the internet, etc).
- Set a timer for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
- During the time period you’ve set, you’re free to write whatever you want. Write what you planned to write, or jot down unrelated notes in your other document. Be productive, be silly, or write nothing at all-you’re allowed to sit there and space out. But you must stay there, without distractions, until the time is up.
- Optional: If you plan to write consistently, decide today how long you’ll set the timer for during your writing session tomorrow. Your only task is to keep the writing appointment. Don’t worry about word counts or anything else. Just show up.
Here’s what it looks like when I write (in Evernote):
The most noticeable thing I found with this method is that it completely takes the pressure off. Though I still attempt to write what I set out to write, I’m free to write anything, related or unrelated, or nothing at all. It’s freeing.
It also, in my case, guarantees that I finish the session feeling successful. If I make progress on my task, great! If I jot down notes, ideas, or write a journal entry, splendid! And if I write not a single word, I’ve still been disconnected from my phone, social media, and the reactive mindset I usually find myself in for a rare, unbroken stretch of time. That’s fantastic.