12 Minutes of Writing Before You Have to Go

A simple exercise that leverages the urgency of a buzzer-beater deadline to help you get a flurry of words into the processor, leaving little time for all the usual distractions.

If you have 12 minutes before you have to get out the door but you wanted to get some writing done before you depart, that is a good thing, You are immediately up against a deadline. All other matters can slip away. Just you and your typing and the second hand clicking away.

There is no time to get up and get yet another cup of coffee, certainly not enough to make a fresh cup.

Have to take a leak? You can hold it. It’s only 12 minutes. The fact is, you’ll be typing so fast and focusing so hard, given the limited amount of time, that even if you have to go to the bathroom, the urgency of the matter will slip to the way side.

The same would go for those pangs of hunger that seem to creep into writing time and lead to all manner of creative cooking with the various ingredients you were able to cobble together by looking through all the cupboards and the back of the fridge, which looks so dirty that you also usually decide you have to do a thorough cleaning before you even think about getting started on your cooking, let alone writing.

Most importantly, there isn’t time to let thoughts of writers block, or the fact that your project sucks, or that it has hit a wall, or that you don’t know how to transition that one section to the next, or that your opening falls flat or that you don’t even know how it’s going to end. You just don’t have the time to let any of those thoughts filter into your process. You’ve got 12 fucking minutes and so you aren’t going to sort anything out or finish anything completely, but you are going to get a good number of words down on paper.

Nevermind all the spelling errors. You can fix those later.

Again, it’s not even going to occur to you that what you are writing is bad, or good. You’re able to set that completely aside. This is about 12 minutes of writing before the bomb goes off. 12 minutes before the end of the game. 3… 2… 1…

Laptop screen down over the keyboard. Slam.

When the 12 minute buzzer goes off, you are fired up. You grab your keys and wallet, throw on your jacket, and walk out the door, off to have some fun, hopefully, but possibly to get to work on time. Either way, you get to go wherever it is you are headed riding atop a glorious wave of pounding out some words — in the most focused and driven of ways — for 12 solid minutes of uninterrupted writing time.