[Tipster] Do You Need Blocks of Writing Time to Make Progress?

tipster post Apr 15, 2022

No. You don't.

Many discussions regarding productive writing center around carving out large blocks of time:

* 90-minute blocks (I've espoused this!);

* Half-day writing chunks;

* Writing days; and

* Writing weekends/retreats.

However, most of us have day jobs. We're not Ernest Hemingway, who could drink all day and then write when he awoke.

We have kids underfoot. We have yards to mow. And dogs to walk.

Blocks of time are a nicety, but you can make progress without them.

Bite-Sized Progress

By now, you know that there is no secret to making progress in your writing.

It's not one thing.

It's a lot of small things. Yes, you need the occasional block of time.

But impulsive moments of writing can be just as productive.

Impulsive means, "I have 15 minutes before I have to leave to pick up the kids."

Or, "I've got a 20 minute train ride home."

One Large Can of Foster's Lager

I run a small strategic marketing consultancy, and I often (pre-Covid) would ride the Metra (commuter train) into the city of Chicago for client meetings.

I live in the western 'burbs, and I enjoy not having to fight traffic on the Eisenhower, especially on a Friday afternoon. Train time is time to go brain dead.

Several times on the commute home, I saw the same guy open his blue backpack.  And pull out a 24 oz can of Foster's Lager, the Australian beer (which is made in Britain).

He boarded the train. Opened his backpack. And drank his way back to the 'burbs.

I could see the deep lines in his face relax after the first sip. He must have been a trader on the Chicago Board of Trade.

I imagine his train commute was around 35 minutes.

By the time he stepped off the train platform, he had made significant progress on that Foster's.

Progress in a Few Minutes

I'm not judging the man. Nor am I advocating for a Foster's Lager commute.

My point is: you can make progress with small impulsive writing chunks.

On my train commute home, I occasionally (not always) pulled out my laptop, exhausted as I was, and wrote a couple paragraphs.

It didn't feel like much.

I was always surprised, though, how often a short writing stint helped me break through a mental block or triggered a new story.

In one of our podcasts, we interviewed a writer who recalled sitting on the toilet, laptop on her knees, monitoring her four-year-old in the bathtub.

My guess is that she had less than thirty, very chaotic minutes to write.

It wasn't her only writing discipline, of course, but she found a way to write in the crevices of her life.

That's how most of us will complete our writing projects.