On writing sprints and the power of collective focus

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I am 34 years old. If I do not make it by 60 years, I will try for another 10 years. – Charles Bukowski

Such should be the spirit of a struggling writer.

Imagine climbing the mountain Everest or any mountain. The beginner’s enthusiasm loses steam. You are at the base camp at the mid-level – you cannot leave and you have to keep climbing to reach the top. The steam from the beginner’s expedition of embarking on the mountainous effort called writing evaporates. Your reading material includes writers’ block articles, books on fiction writing and interviews of accomplished writers. The evil ‘writers block’ keeps you from writing further.

Between a tyro and an accomplished writer is the mid-level-writer.

Writing is hard, especially if you are a mid-level or intermediate level writer.  It is an arduous task to remain at the mid-level but you are not alone. What do you do?

Writing Sprints:

Step 1: Keep your writing material like pens, paper, computer, ipad.. etc. ready.

Step 2: Switch off any electronic disturbance. Only keep your timer active.

Step 3: Time your clock to five minutes.

Step 4: Write whatever comes to your mind without inhibitions

Stop the clock.

Now set it to 10 minutes.

Repeat steps 1 to 4.

Now set to 15 minutes.

Repeat steps 1 to 4.











Power of collective focus:

Last year, I had joined a group known as ‘Just Write It : 40: 10.’ The sole purpose of the group is to gather on every Sunday, write for forty minutes and take a break for ten minutes. It takes place in a calm space in a coffee shop in Milwaukee. The ten minutes break is only for relaxing your mind and ensuring that your mind is read to be focused (grabbing a cup of copy and looking away from the screen is the best way to utilize these ten minutes) and  be ready for the next forty: ten session. You need not share your writing or read it aloud, you can discuss what you are writing though. The group meets every Sunday and does this for three hours. The advantage of such a group is that you know you are not alone and you can discuss your shortcomings. The disadvantage is if you are surrounded by a garrulous member of the group, their chatter might disturb you. It best to be seated beside someone who is focused and is present to write.

In my group, a few of them are screenplay writers, a few of them are poets, and a few of them are students who complete their school assignments. It is an interesting mix of people and the collective focus stimulates you to write better.

Since visiting them every Sunday is a challenge, I try to have a writing buddy and do this together by communicating on messages.

If you have no such group around you, you could take the assistance of a writing buddy too. Again, no electronic distraction while you are on the job except for setting your timer.

Caution: Do not move backwards while you are writing or edit it. Keep moving forward.

It works best when you have partnered with somebody and you compete with the other person. The idea is to write without pausing and thinking much. Take one to three days gap and then edit it.




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