What Can Get Done in Twenty Minutes

I’m always astonished by the patently untrue things I’ll internalise about writing, given half a chance. For me, the big one is the myth of time, which manifests in the belief that it’s not worth sitting down to write anything unless I’ve got a significant chunk of time to devote to the effort.

It leads to some pretty weird decision making. Give me a two hour gap in my schedule, and I’ll consider filling it with writing. Give me a fifteen minute gap in my schedule, and I’ll consider filling it with Facebook on my cell phone.

In my head, writing requires an long stretch of time and energy to make it worth while.

Which is odd, ’cause I know that’s bullshit. I even have the data to back it up, courtesy of the novella diary I kept back in May of 2013, which largely constructed a draft out of ten and fifteen minute writing bursts of a couple of hundred words. It was a month where I’d be all, “eleven minutes spare at the end of my half-hour lunch break? That’s two hundred words mother-fucker,” and then I’d sit and write the two hundred words.

I can get way more done in ten minutes than I expect too.

I also get way less done during a one-hour block than I expect too, largely cause I spend a chunk of that time staring into space or, these days, nodding off in a fit of unexplained narcoleptic sleep for a few minutes with my finger pressed don on the J key.

I’ve been thinking about this ’cause I slept through my alarm yesterday.

I’ve done that a lot in January, ’cause my sleep schedule is still crap after the Xmas holidays, and it frequently means that I’ll find myself with fifteen or twenty minutes spare in the morning instead of the usual hour and a quarter I give myself on days when I follow the schedule.

Most days, since I’ve gone back to work, I’ve looked at that twenty-minute gap and figure I’ll do something other than writing. Answering email, for example. Or writing a quick blog post. After all, I don’t have the time to get some *real* writing done.

Yesterday I sat down and worked on the novella for twenty minutes and racked up 402 words. That’s about 25% of the daily wordcount I need to hit in order to hit my Sustainable 600K Year goal.


Despite subs-consciously flagging that twenty minute gap as “not serious writing time.”

One of these days, I’ll learn to trust the data I’ve accumulated instead of the bullshit I decide is true just to get out of work.

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