Imagine you have to go away for a week on vacation
Suddenly something intensely interesting happens with your planning. You have no time to waste. Facebook, Twitter and all other idiotic distractions never show up on your screen. TV watching becomes a luxury. Every moment of your day is focused on clearing your schedule so that your vacation is truly restful.
Incredibly, having less time causes us all to be truly productive.
And to be truly productive with article writing, we need a timer
But that's crazy, you say. Surely a timer isn't going to help. If a timer were the solution to the problem, every writer on the planet would simply buy that magic timer and voilà, the article would get written.
But let's put that objection away for a second and examine why a timer works.
A timer works on three separate fronts:
Let's start with editing…
Most of us detest putting out an article that's less than perfect. Of course, this is the opening chorus for chaos, as you can see. We write, cancel, edit, edit, write, delete, edit, edit the story is familiar to you, no doubt. But if you've got no time to edit, you do a cursory edit after you're done, because hey, you have no time.
And that's just the first reason. The second reason is simply the choice of topics.
Topics can be a menace
Usually, if you've done even a bit of preparation, you'll have about twenty topics to write about. But even if you have just two or three topics, you'll soon start a merry dance. You'll start writing one topic, decide that's too hard, go to the second, and then bounce away to the third.
This chomps into your time on any given day and leaves you frustrated. But if you have a timer, the message is clear, you have no time. This is your topic, now get down to work. This gives you a clear sense of focus, and what's more forces you to resort to the third point, namely, outlining.
Outlining becomes critical when a timer is involved
Without a timer, it's easy to just sashay into an article, get lost and start all over again. But when time is short, you need a checklist. And your outline is your checklist.
You are forced to spend the critical five-seven minutes creating an outline (if you haven't already done so earlier). And it forces you to make sure you don't dawdle over the outline either. It's all go, go, go. No time to waste.
Ok, so a timer may well help, but how do you set the timer?
Should you set it for an hour? Two hours? Three hours? When I first began my writing career, I used to spend two days writing an article.
Obviously I had not a clue about outlines or timers. And you won't fancy a two-day timer anyway. So here's what you need to do:
Step 1: Set a timer for the topic.
Step 2: Set a timer for the outline.
Step 3: Set a timer for the article writing.
Step 4: Set a timer for the editing.
Step 5: Ditto for the formatting.
The topics and outlines should ideally be done the day, or night before. If you're doing it all at one go, you're not allowing your brain to rehearse the article in advance. But let's say you don't do it in advance, set about 5 minutes for the topic/sub-topic generation, and pick one topic. Then outline the topic in no more than 5-7 minutes. Any longer and you're doing something wrong.
Writing should go on for about 60-90 minutes at best. Then you stop.
You edit for 10 minutes and format for another ten. Add it all up and you get about 130 minutes. That's a little over two hours for an article with a timer.
But isn't two hours a lot of time?
Yes it is. And that's the kind of time you need to put in to turn out an article. In fact, some writers may take as many as three hours per article it really depends how much command you have over the structure.
But that's just at the start. As you get more control over the structure of article writing, the same task can be achieved easily in under an hour.
Yes, I used to take two days to write an article. Today it takes me fewer than 45 minutes. And this means I can write 4-5 articles in a day if I choose to do so. Of course you can see how this helps when writing a course or a book.
You can now plough through about 4000-5000 words in a morning, without too much strain.
But newbie writers make the mistake of working without a timer
And the clock ticks away relentlessly, getting the writer more tired by the minute. You see, it's not just time that's being drained away, but also energy. The more time you spend, the more tired you get.
The more tired you get, the more cruddy the result. By the time you get to the editing and formatting stage, you're so exhausted that article writing seems like a chore to avoid. And eventually you decide it's too much of a misery and avoid article writing altogether.
This painful experience can be minimised if you get that tick, tick, timer going.
A timer forces efficiency. And it forces you to stop. It gets your editing mania under control, your topics and outlining in order. And when the buzzer goes off, it's time to finish the article.
But what if the article is unfinished?
Have you missed all your vacation flights? No you haven't, have you?
You finished your tasks, turned off the lights, locked the door and somehow made it to the airport. In a similar manner, you'll do the same with your articles. As you reach that deadline, you'll get the job completed, formatted and ready to go.
It might even end up being the key to your future vacations.