Sprints in Writing, Not in Running

I’m sure you’ve heard of the “rule” that states: work for X amount of time, break for Y minutes, repeat. There are several different versions of this, of course, so mostly it’s about finding the balance of X and Y that works best for you. Each period of X time, I call a ‘sprint.’

In Randy Ingermanson’s post “Thoughts on Singletasking,” he talks about Eben Pagan, who recommends working for 50 minutes and breaking for 10.  Eben Pagan is an Internet entrepreneur who teaches people who to be productive. Sounds impressive enough, to me.

Randy and Eben suggest a timer, whether a physical kitchen timer, or a virtual one as a program or website. Well, time creeps me out. So I picked music instead.

Here’s what I do: I pick an artist or genre and create a roughly 50-minute playlist of similar songs. I try to keep a theme for each playlist (all instrumentals, all ballads, all energetic song, etc). That way, the songs flow into one another and I can select a playlist according to what emotion or tone I’m trying to portray.

Music Saves My Soul

Via photobucket

When the playlist is up, I take a break for 10-15 minutes. I converse with friends, get a snack, and, most importantly, do something physical! I’ll not give you the “healthy body, healthy mind” lecture, but spending a few minutes every hour just to stretch and do a light exercise or two does wonders. Spend your break doing something relaxing to ease your mind before you get into the next sprint. Even if I only have time for one sprint, I feel accomplished just by working straight through the 50 minutes.

I currently have five or six sprint playlists on my home computer.  Timing with music makes me feel much happier about the process, especially since my current living conditions are less than pleasant. The music helps me relax and focus on what I want to accomplish. I quite enjoy the process, and if you try it, I hope you do, too!

What methods do you use to concentrate?


Ishana Mayakashi
Stay Happy, Remain Beautiful

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on September 16, 2010, in Ishy Writes! and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This is interesting. I like the idea of using playlists and listening to music instead of a kitchen timer. Eek, I feel like if I’m really concentrating I’d be startled by the sound. Or I’d keep on checking so see how much time is left. As of right now I’ve been trying to focus by not writing at home. Mostly I write in the cafe at Borders or in Starbucks. Sure there are people around who are distracting, but I don’t have the internet to distract me (I write in my Moleskine while I’m there. The only downsides to that is that 1. They’re kind of pricey but I”m addicted and 2. Sometimes I get lazy about typing up what I’ve already written).

    • The benefit of being in a public place is all the people-watching you can do. You can get some great ideas for characters that way. I didn’t mention this is my post, but I tend to put my playlist on shuffle so I can’t keep track of time by what song is playing. I also have my taskbar hidden off-screen so I can’t keep track of time that way, either. Time really does give me the creeps.
      The Internet can be a heinous distraction, so it’s great that you found a way to ignore it. Even if you don’t transfer your handwriting to a computer, the fact is you wrote. The best way to get better at something, especially writing, is to do it.
      Thanks for the comment, Melanie, and happy Friday!

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