writers tips / writing

Writer’s Tip #18: Yeah, You Have to Force Yourself to Write

writers tipsWhen you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Practice makes perfect.

This is from Chuck Palahniuk. I do this, too, so I want to share it with you:

Two years ago, when I wrote the first of these essays it was about my “egg timer method” of writing. You never saw that essay, but here’s the method: When you don’t want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings. If you still hate writing, you’re free in an hour. But usually, by the time that alarm rings, you’ll be so involved in your work, enjoying it so much, you’ll keep going. Instead of an egg timer, you can put a load of clothes in the washer or dryer and use them to time your work. Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don’t know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come.

Please add comments with your favorite editing fixes.

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4 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip #18: Yeah, You Have to Force Yourself to Write

  1. You are so right, Melissa. Because I’ve done that for so long, it’s almost never a problem to sit down to write. Which isn’t to say I don’t have problems along the way, it’s just not getting started.


  2. I tell this to anyone who is starting out with a story and doesn’t know what to do. You have to write every day. Even if you don’t feel like it, just sit down and try your best. Once I get going, it’s smooth sailing after that haha. The timer really is a great idea. I will keep that in mind. 🙂


  3. Mostly, what I get out of the egg timer is that it forces me through the sticky starting point. Once I get going, I’m good. then, the challenge is stopping! I love summers when I can write for ten hours a day. When I’m back to teaching, I have withdrawal for a few weeks.


  4. Love that quote from Palahnuik by the way. Merging everyday necessities like doing the laundry or washing the dishes does mess with the creative process.

    I’m going to have to try the egg-timer method, but knowing me I’ll be back to my bad habits again! It’s so hard to write when you don’t feel like it. I managed to get into a routine once and I found that it got addictive. If I didn’t write, I felt grumpy all day.


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