Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Cherie Reich's 5 Reasons to Write to a Timer

Please welcome Cherie Reich, a guest whose monthly word counts always awe and inspire me. Find out more about her methods here! 


Five Reasons to Write with a Timer
by Cherie Reich

1. Get your BICHOK on.

Making the time to write is sometimes the hardest step in this whole writing business. Using a timer gets you to actually sit down, pull up your document, and focus on writing (i.e. butt in chair, hands on keyboard = BICHOK).

2. The 100m dash.

It takes some time getting used to writing with a timer. Start small, anywhere from 5-15 minutes. These micro-sprints will train your fingers to fly. You’ll be so busy trying to write anything down that you won’t notice that glaring typo in line seven or how you used the same verb three times in paragraph four. These micro-sprints train your mind, though, and in time you will write better faster. And we all can find 5-15 minutes to write, right?

3. Why do you write like you’re running out of time?

Because you are! 525,600 minutes. That’s all we have in a year. We are running out of time every single second. The timer emphasizes this. As the clock is winding down, the word counts grow.

And to be honest, I couldn’t resist adding a Hamilton lyric and a Rent reference.

4. Do you salivate when the bell rings?

Writing by a timer can create a Pavlovian response. Repetition trains your brain and forms a habit. After I read through what I wrote the day before, I press the timer. It may take me a few seconds to start typing, but by training my brain to know its writing time, I actually find myself getting the words down more often than not.

5. Write more now.

Some days you will still be lucky to get any words down, but if you know you have to sit in front of your document for thirty minutes, then you’re bound to write something. It’s amazing how those words add up.

Since July 1, 2015, I’ve been using a timer to time my writing. Writing for a set time every single day has allowed me to clock in 418,778 words in fifteen months, so I must admit using a timer has been an eye-opening experience. It takes dedication and practice, but so does writing in general.

Have you used a timer before when it comes to writing?

Cherie Reich owns more books than she can ever read and thinks up more ideas than she can ever write, but that doesn’t stop this bookworm from trying to complete her goals, even if it means curbing her TV addiction. A library assistant living in Virginia, she writes speculative fiction. For more information about her books, visit smarturl.it/CReichWebsite.


From USA Today, Amazon bestselling, and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Ghosts of Fire, a supernatural anthology of ten thrilling tales. Meet paranormal detectives, imprisoned dragons, dark demons, cursed jewels, and handsome prophets. Explore shifting realms trapped in mirrors and a disturbing future where a president aims to rid the world of Otherkind.

Cherie Reich’s story “On Day 168” in Ghosts of Fire was written in twenty-four 12-minute increments last October. You can purchase the anthology at Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, Nook, and Smashwords.


40 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm going to have to try using a timer now!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love this! I think I'll try it for NaNo. I might even use it for NaNo prep - force myself to make decisions on what characters are going to do, where the story is going to go, etc. I do tend to dilly-dally. :)

Deborah Walker said...

That sounds wonderful. I love the feeling of energy!

Heather R. Holden said...

Wow, that's a lot of words! Congrats on having such impressive results with the timer, Cherie. I had one for my projects once, but it's already been years since I've last used it. I should figure out where I've misplaced it so I can see if it can help me accomplish more with my art!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome reasons to use a timer. Here's another reason. If you have something on the stove while writing, use a timer so you don't forget the stove when you get engrossed in your writing.

Crystal Collier said...

I haven't used an actual timer, but I did have a period of time where I was drafting with a required word count each day and limited minutes. It worked well. We really can train our brains into anything, eh?

Annalisa Crawford said...

I think I might find this frustrating - I'm an all or nothing writer. When I'm inspired the whole day and part of the night can be lost in a flurry of writing. When I'm not, I do housework :-)

M Pax said...

You are a testament to using a timer. It did help me develop a habit at a different time during the day... a must. I'll use it to retrain myself shortly.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Alex - Cherie makes some great points, doesn't she?

Madeline - me, too! I'm going to dust off an old story idea and Nano it with Cherie's methods. :)

Deborah - me, too!

Heather - I've found that using a timer is useful for a variety of tasks. I loathe household chores, but I can do them for 10 minutes a time and get a lot done.

Natalie - that's a great reason, and one reason I should remember to use a timer. :)

Crystal - yes, we can!

Annalisa - I have days like those . . . well, not the housework ones. However, I find the timer useful for keeping the writing going every day.

M Pax - Timers definitely help with re-training our habits . . .and that has me thinking of something . . .

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I could set a timer when I'm writing by hand. I go a little faster then.

Cherie Reich said...

Tyrean, thank you so much for having me on your blog!

A timer is worth the try, Alex!

Seeing the time count down can definitely help a person focus. I find it keeps me from check Facebook too much. LOL! Thanks for stopping by, Madeline!

Thank you, Deborah!

I use my Kindle Fire clock app for a timer. Smartphones and the internet have them too, Heather. :)

Haha! That's a wonderful reason to use a timer, Natalie! I'm not much of a cook, so I haven't had that problem yet.

Crystal, I've used word counts before, but then I was finding I was taking all day to write 1000 words. The timer makes it a little faster. :)

I miss those flurry of writing days, Annalisa. They can be quite thrilling.

I think that's what the timer did most for me, Mary. It created a habit.

A timer would work when writing by hand or dictating too, Diane. I tend to type more, though.

Nick Wilford said...

Wow, sounds like it's definitely had great results for your wordcount! I can see how only giving yourself a set amount of time creates pressure to write, in a nice way. I do try to write a certain amount in an hour, but I haven't used an actual timer.

Cherie Reich said...

The timer definitely creates a good visual reminder that time is ticking down, Nick. :)

Lynda R Young said...

Ok, I'm convinced. Now where did I put that timer?

Tyrean Martinson said...

Diane - I notice that I seem to get so much more done, either writing by hand or by laptop, when I have a timer.

Cherie - Thank you for stopping by!

Nick - it sounds like you write by a longer timer . . .

Lynda - I lost mine, so I use the timer feature of my laptop or the timer on my phone.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

What a great idea. It might keep me from getting distracted while I'm writing. Thanks.

Christine Rains said...

Cherie amazes me at how much she's accomplished with her timed writing. I want to start doing this myself, and I did a few sprints, but then it was fall break and now I'm editing and well, yeah, I need to practice BICHOK!

Cherie Reich said...

It might be hard to find a timer in the process of moving, Lynda, but there's always one on the computer. :)

The timer does work to keep a person focused, Beverly.

Yes, BICHOK, Christine! :)

Juneta Key said...

I like that acronym BICHOK. I have seen BIC a lot but like that one. I've that Write to Die program before which add urgency but I tend to do better without the timer although I do them sometimes. Great post.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Ellie Garratt said...

Using a timer has certainly helped you get your BICHOK-on! I need to try this myself.

Cherie Reich said...

I wish I could take credit for BICHOK. I've heard it several years ago, and it's stuck with me, although I probably spend too much time with BIC and not enough HOK. LOL! Thanks for stopping by, Juneta!

The timer has definitely helped. I know I wouldn't have written as many words without it, Ellie.

Lexa Cain said...

What a fascinating idea! I've heard of people on Twitter who do hour-long sprints and report back on how much they wrote. If I used a timer set for 5-15 minutes, I'd probably get a couple of paragraphs written and they'd suck. LOL! Thanks for explaining how well it works for you so others can try. :)

Cherie Reich said...

A little bit of writing is still a little bit of writing. It's hard to edit a blank page, after all. Thanks for stopping by, Lexa! :)

Denise Covey said...

Yes, I've read this. I think that timer would make me nervous and I wouldn't be able to think. But whatever works...

Jenni Enzor said...

I like this idea. I have found that if I tell myself I only have to write for 5-15, I end up getting a lot more done than if I set out trying to write for a long period of time.
So glad to finally learn your secret, Cherie!

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

It sounds stressful--is it? Or do you get use to it?

Cherie Reich said...

I can see how a timer would make it harder for some people to write. Whatever works. Thanks for stopping by, Denise!

I do the same, Jenni! I've discovered I can write more in a shorter period of time. When I was doing word count goals, I found it would sometimes take me all day to write a couple thousand words, but that was because I procrastinated and wrote a paragraph here, a sentence there instead of focusing on the document and writing.

I found I was more stressed when I didn't use a timer, H.R. The key was to sit down and write. Whether I wrote a hundred words or a thousand, it was all good. :)

Laurel Garver said...

Anything that will force me to ignore editor brain is worth trying. I tend to think of my train commutes as sprint periods, since it's a nice, small chunk of time that's perfect to spend with a notebook.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Do you want to know what's really spooky (just in time for Halloween)? I bought a brand spanking new timer yesterday! Now, what a coincidence, eh? Must be in the cards. Thanks, Cherie. Hi Tyrean!

Chemist Ken said...

As I've recently discovered, deadlines shut down the writing part of my brain. I'm afraid a timer would do the same thing to me. Glad it works for you.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Laurel - a train commute sounds like the perfect time to write!

Joylene - Wow! :)

Chemist Ken - That's too bad. I struggle with deadlines but I like timers. I'm not sure why. I guess that for hard chores, I can countdown to the end, and for the fun stuff, I can see how much I can accomplish.

Kelly Steel said...

Thanks for this post and awesome advice. I'm going to try a timer now.

Mark Noce said...

I like it:) What better way to add tension to both writing and the art of writing itself:)

Melissa Sugar said...

I'm glad you reminded me of timed writing. I have sort of been away from my novel writing and the longer I stay away the harder it is to return. I am thinking NaNo will be a good time to refocus my time and energy. I used a timer once before and it worked miracles. I actually got the idea from Chris Fox's book and I downloaded the app on my phone 5,000 WPH. You pretty much set the timer for 20 minute writing sprints and just write. I found that I wanted to write longer so I set it for longer times. Just writing against the timer gave me this surge of adrenaline and kept me going. I don't know why I stopped doing it. Thanks for the reminder. I'm going to use a timer during NaNo. Great idea.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Timers can be great incentive! Especially if someone has a hard time making time for their writing.

Jess@Fairday's Blog said...

I have been curious to try this since I first read about it on Cherie's blog. I have to give it a try soon. It sounds like it will help me get a lot more writing in! Great post!
~Jess

Patricia Lynne said...

I know someone who uses a timer to write, but I can't. I get too focused on the time ticking down and my muse shuts up.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I took a workshop last year on sprint writing. It's very similar to what you're talking about except you do it in a group using a facebook group. We all want to write faster.

LD Masterson said...

That would take some serious self-discipline but I'm going to try it.

mshatch said...

I haven't tried using a timer but maybe I will!