Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Writers Need A Time Limit

Writing is tough. It’s like trudging up a muddy hill with a backpack full of bricks. And once you reach the top, you realize you climbed the wrong thing.

Even Bukowski struggled. The big difference between him and Joe Schmo from the coffee shop?

He didn’t start out thinking he’d do great. In fact, if you read his early work, you’ll see he was mediocre. Just like the rest of us.

Do you know how he got great?

Tonnage. Just like any other prolific writer, he put in a dizzying amount of hours.

Does that mean you should write all day?

No. Nobody writes all day. Not even the best. It’s torture.

You need a set time that doesn’t drive you mad. 

Start with an hour. Just sixty minutes where you don’t have to write, but where you can’t do anything else besides stare at an empty page.

Eventually, ideas will start showing up. Ideas that you’ll want to refine, edit, and kick around.

Don’t. Resist that temptation.

Otherwise, the editor stops the creator and your hour of work will net you no more than half a page of writing. Not exactly a haul to be proud of.

To be satisfied with your work, you must separate creation from correcting, because doing both at the same time is impossible.

So write in phases.

First, free your inner author from judgement and crank out as many words you can. Then, once you have enough, break out the sledgehammer and go to town.

Just be sure to have a time limit. Because if you don’t, your brain will resist ever getting started, just like it would resist hiring a personal trainer who has opened-ended sessions. 

To start, your lizard brain needs to know when the torment will end.

P.S. You don’t have to stare at an empty page. You can also seek inspiration from the ideas and observations you jotted down in your notebook. Don’t have one? I recommend you get started.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach