20 Minutes To Success

Do you sometimes have a hard time getting started? I don't just mean in the morning when you crawl out of bed, but when you're supposed to be in front of the keyboard and writing

I confess that sometimes I just can't get those words flowing and the fingers moving on the keyboard. I'd rather be doing anything - even cleaning house - than writing. Writing's my job so I can't afford to idle away the hours playing Free Cell or cruising the net in search of entertainment.

Secret Way To Get Moving

You'll probably think I'm the biggest goof in the world or the most undisciplined, but here's a method I created that works for me. Especially on Monday mornings when I have contracts due during the week for dozens of articles on esoteric subjects about which I can't find a dram of enthusiasm no matter how many cups of coffee I ingest.

I set my oven timer for 20 minutes. For those 20 minutes, I play a mind-dulling computer game. I just give myself permission to goof off. When the timer buzzes, I get up and reset it for another 20 minutes. Then I deposit my behind in the chair, open my writing file and dive into whatever I've been procrastinating on. I type away, giving myself permission to write garbage as long as my fingers are moving. I work until the timer bleats again.

When I have to rise to turn the timer off, I usually don't reset it because that 20 minutes of writing is enough to keep me going. My brain has been engaged. My writing skills are at the ready, and I'm no longer writing dreck.

If for some reason I'm still rebellious, then I reset the timer. Only this time I increase the writing time by five minutes. I've never had to use the timer beyond two blocks of goof time.

20 Minute Rule

I call this method of tricking myself into doing something I don't want to do the 20 Minute Rule because you can do anything for 20 minutes if you've got a reward at the end - goofing off for another 20. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I use my 20 Minute Rule for housework too because I'm never enthusiastic about domestic chores. When I use it for housework, I have to keep resetting the timer. Ironically, my goof time in between cleaning always involves writing as my reward. Weird, huh?

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes you have to trick the brain into doing what needs to be done.


  1. Course, there's good old fashiong writerly procrastination, also known as staring at the screen, doing laundry, reading the paper, working the crossword, cooking, and reading other writers' blogs....guess which I'm guilty of at the moment!

  2. Yup, tricksy sometimes works well. ;) I like that method idea... I might have to try it, as some days my self-discipline is just non-existent. O:)


  3. Let's not mention blog reading, or I'll have to confess how much time I spend doing that i.e. following you back to your blog and discovering Lisa Romeo Writes. Well done, Lisa.